In the past, few women even contemplated a career in construction. Happily, times are changing, and we’re delighted that the number of women on our team at Gallagher Group is growing rapidly. To mark International Women’s Day, we asked some of them to share their thoughts and experiences, and advice for girls and young women considering a construction career.
Debbie Porter joined us last year as our Document Controller and Office Manager, but has spent her entire 30-year working life in the industry. “When I started out, you needed a skin like a rhino!” she remembers. “These days, men are very accommodating with women in the industry; we can bring a softer approach and a calmer, clearer perspective to situations. You need to be open minded and not let anyone stop you achieving your goals.”
Our Finance Manager, Catherine Cade, worked in manufacturing, travel and legal services before changing to construction 15 years ago. “I didn’t specifically choose to make the move early on, but I’m glad I did,” she says. “I like the diverse, interesting projects. As women, we’re naturally nurturing, patient, balanced and level-headed, and good at multi-tasking, adapting and persevering – all really important qualities in this often challenging environment.”
Udeshika Weerakkody is a more recent entrant to the industry. A former university lecturer and researcher, she joined us as an Environmental Scientist in 2018. “Construction is rapidly moving towards a greener economy for its longer-term sustainability. I love having an opportunity to get involved in very technical operations in such a demanding field, “ she says. “Getting used to a construction site with heavy operations and rough handling was challenging; you still don’t see many women out there. But for girls and young women, particularly graduates and school leavers considering a STEM career, construction provides great opportunities in fields like engineering and environmental solutions.”
Emma Nimmo moved to construction around the same time at Catherine. She’s currently in her third year with us as an Aggregates Sales Representative. “Construction is a really diverse industry when it comes to skills and career path, and I wanted a challenge,” she says. “When I first joined, I found it difficult be accepted by ‘old-fashioned mindsets’, who weren’t sure about asking a woman about concrete! But it’s changed massively: most men aren’t fazed by a woman advising on construction products and materials. Woman tend to have very strong communication and people skills; we also know what we want – and will go out and get it!” Her advice? “Go for it! It’s a brilliant industry to be part of; challenging at times but very rewarding. You can’t help feeling you’ve achieved the best you can on a day-to-day basis – as long as you put the work, time and effort in, of course!”
When she left school, Philippa Golding tried a couple of different career options, but nothing interested her enough to take them any further until she joined Gallagher in the Accounts department in March 2018. There, she found out about surveying, and is now working towards a degree in Quantity Surveying. “I enjoy the variety within the job and being able to get out and see exactly what’s going on. The men on site are always surprised when I say what my role is, but they’re encouraging too,” she says. “I haven’t found there to be any real barriers to stop women getting involved in construction other than misconceptions and stereotypes. There’s nothing a man can do that a woman can’t – and how do you know you won’t do well in it unless you try?”
We’re always on the lookout for committed, talented people to join our team. If you’ve got what it takes to work alongside amazing women like Debbie, Catherine, Udeshika and Emma, we’d love to hear from you.