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This International Women’s Day, we’ve spoken to some of the amazing women who work in various roles in Glenigan and elsewhere in the Byggfakta UK Group.

We asked them a number of questions, such as; what drew them to want to work in the construction industry, how they feel women are represented in the industry, and what advice they have for women wanting to join the sector, and the answers are incredibly insightful.

As construction continues to evolve and revolutionise, it presents new opportunities to increase gender diversity and open up new progression pathways for women. It’s an exciting time for an industry looking to revitalise its workforce, investing in new, diverse skill sets and ways of thinking.

Vicci McEwen, CEO, Glenigan

Vicci is an expert in running data intelligence and sales optimisation businesses in competitive markets, with a long-standing career that focuses on B2B with extensive experience and success in leading data-rich subscription models.

How did you get into the industry? “In a twist of fate, I took a temporary job after my gap year and was hooked immediately.”

What led you to want to work in the industry? “The built environment is a fascinating space, ever-evolving, and ever-innovating. Construction is at the heart of our economy, and the unique view that Glenigan provides allows insights into emerging and declining markets, helping the industry to focus on growth opportunities.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed? “The industry has come a long way since I joined it 23 years ago. In the early years of my career, it was rare to come across another female in any construction organisation!

“Even if we look at the evolution of Glenigan, I was the first female board member in 2005, the first female Managing Director in 2018, and the first female CEO in 2020. The board was predominantly male until 5 years ago, we now very proudly have a 42% female representation at board level and 63% overall.

“We see many more talented women in the industry now, operating at all levels and it is getting better and better each year.

“The perception is shifting in the right way, however, I do think women still have to work harder and ‘earn their stripes’ in our industry if they want to have their voices heard. We’re getting there, but there is still work to be done.”

How could the industry attract more women? “Engagement in the latter school years is where I would focus, educating our future workforce, we are always looking for opportunities to work with schools, colleges, and universities to bring construction to life and educate on the opportunities the industry has to offer.”

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Go for it, it is a colourful, interesting, exciting industry with great opportunities.”

Joanne Keit, Commercial Director, Glenigan

Joanne has a business background, with 15 years’ experience in the construction industry. In her current role, she leads a dedicated commercial department with the goal of providing a world-class customer experience. 

How did you get into the industry you're in? “By accident! I used to work in finance and when the global financial crisis hit in 2007, I wanted to move away from that sector, as a lot of people did. I was introduced to Glenigan, loved the principle and vision for the company so I made the move. At the time I knew very little to nothing about construction, so I learnt.  I started as a Trainer, learnt the industry, worked to understand the pain points in the industry, specific to our product offering, demonstrated my knowledge, and as that grew so did my role and responsibilities until I ended up in the position I am now, Commercial Director.”

What led you to want to work in the industry you're in? “Chance more than anything but as I understood the industry, I realised just how diverse the sector was and how many opportunities there were. The industry is always changing and that makes it interesting. Over the last 15 years sustainability has become a hot topic with more construction projects requiring environmentally friendly and sustainable materials, and that leads to innovation and constant development.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry you're in? Have perceptions changed? “When I first joined Glenigan 15 years ago I rarely spoke to a female decision-maker, the industry was heavily male-dominated and female voices were rarely taken as being credible. I do remember hearing a fair few ‘Hi darlin’ in answer to my phone calls!

“This is changing, we’re now seeing more directors and senior female leaders in construction, though there is still a way to go to have women evenly represented across lower levels, not just at a senior level. And with that change in representation has come more respect and equal footing. At Glenigan we have a female CEO and a board of directors and managers which are evenly split, that’s meant female voices are heard and perception has changed.”

How could the industry you're in attract more women? “Construction and tech are two industries that are historically male-dominated. The industry needs to demonstrate they are open to female salespeople, marketers, estimators, engineers, and managers so women at all entry levels can see the opportunities open to them. More showcasing needs to happen to show women can, and are, being successful in the industry.”

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Knowledge on the industry (any industry) can be learned, what matters are your skills. Be confident, speak up, be heard - your perspective matters.”

Kirsty Bolingbroke, Content Operations Manager, Glenigan

Kirsty joined Glenigan straight from university, and quickly became an indispensable part of the business.

How did you get into the industry you're in? “This was completely by chance, following my degree I was looking for research/analytics jobs & Glenigan were hiring for a research executive to join their Content team.”

What led you to want to work in the industry you're in? “I’ve always been interested in analysing data, whether it’s in an Excel spreadsheet or a book that’s a hundred years old. I’ll admit that I didn’t think there was a place for me in construction and I never considered the data/analytics side of the industry. But I’m still here 6 years later.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry you're in? Have perceptions changed? “With regards to perceptions, I can talk from personal experience, when I was a kid I always presumed that women wouldn’t work in construction. Whenever I walked past a construction site it was always male dominated. Joining Glenigan helped change that perception, every customer I talk to is in the construction industry, and there hasn’t been many calls/visits where a woman hasn’t been present. Those roles have varied from operational, analytical, and on-site roles. I’m not sure women are fairly represented, there is still the stereotype lingering that construction is a male dominated industry, but from my recent experience that isn’t the case.”

How could the industry you're in attract more women? “Showing people that the industry is more than just the site works they see out and about.”

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Look at the roles and responsibilities of any company advertising for positions, if you think you can do the job don’t be frightened to apply just because you think it’s male dominated. I did it and was pleasantly surprised by the results.”

Tina Pringle, Director of Technical Information, NBS

Over the last 25 years, Tina’s experience has taken her from construction product manufacturing to built environment consultancy, major capital project development to asset management and master planning. Her work now covers the digital dimension of the built environment – working with platforms, products, and customers to deliver the digital construction information and data requirements of the future.

How did you get into the industry? “I started my career nearly 30 years ago in product manufacturing, going on to run a company that designed, built, and fitted-out hospitals and schools. As BIM developed, I made the move to NBS to work on construction specification, model integration, and construction products.”

What led you to want to work in the industry? “I really enjoyed seeing the building design landscape develop. As the industry has become more digitised, I saw the importance of information and data sharing and the potential for that data to revolutionise the way construction assets are built and managed.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed? “I think the number of women in the industry has massively grown since I started my career. I see more women in both onsite and senior project lead and management roles than ever before, which is great.”

How could the industry attract more women? “Opportunities in the construction industry need to be highlighted in schools and careers talks. This is the time that many young women are evaluating what skills they may need for their future careers, and it’s important that they have access to role models to show them different and diverse career paths.”

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Get yourself a mentor in the industry and see if you can shadow someone even just for the day! Research what different types of jobs there are in the built environment, you would be surprised.”

Helen Frame, UK Group Director of Product, NBS

Helen has 20 years’ experience in a FTSE100 tech company: eight years in technical support, sales, and product training, people and project management roles; as well as 12 years in a commercial marketing environment managing product sets through multiple channels from acquisition to retention.

How did you get into the industry? “I wanted to apply for a role in a larger organisation in the North East that was well-known, a tech leader with great brand awareness, where I felt there would be good career opportunities. I started in a technical support role, slowly building my knowledge of the products.

“I carefully selected, applied, and was successful in various roles that grew my skillset, and now have a strong commercial and product background that enables me to hopefully work to add value in any business or industry.

“I chose NBS because it was on a journey to becoming a commercially focused organisation and there was opportunity to use my commercial and product skillset to influence the direction, support others and make a real difference.”

What led you to want to work in the industry? “Technology is everywhere, in personal and work life. It’s used in most businesses from infrastructure to software and to support their everyday business processes. It can massively impact business efficiencies and accuracy, and be revolutionary at times. It’s exciting to see the change that businesses go through, be part of their journey and support them with it.

“Also, from a business point of view, and certainly being in a product role, it requires a skillset that enables you to collaborate, influence and work with pretty much everyone across the organisation which whilst challenging at times can be very rewarding.

“You don’t have to be the most technical person to work in a tech business either, different roles require different skillsets. I work closely with a Technology Director and our skillsets complement each other - he makes sure our technology stack is secure, modern, and futureproofed, while I make sure it solves customer and market problems, is aligned with our business strategy, and has a clear return on investment.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed? “I’d say the tech industry is still weighted more towards men filling roles than women, but I’m a firm believer in the right person for the role regardless. We just need more women to apply for them!”

How could the industry attract more women? “Have more forums led by women in tech roles, giving women additional confidence to join in. It’s vital to hold events like this so that pre-existing perceptions can be countered by real women in real jobs.

“I think it’s a mistake to go down the women only route for these groups or forums – it’s important to have men speaking out about the brilliant women they work with.

“We need to start early with the next generation, and continue to change the perception in schools that boys are better at science and tech, and girls are more suited to the arts. Let’s offer more opportunities for young people to learn about different industries and career pathways beyond higher education routes.”

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Go for it! If you’re interested in tech, make sure you have the skillset or identify what you need to get you there and set yourself some personal development goals. Jobs are rarely given to people who have the complete skillset, everyone has room to grow, so don’t be put off if you don’t think you tick all the boxes.” 

Lindi Teate, Chief People Officer, Byggfakta Group

Lindi has been working in the people and culture space for over 20 years, operating across several sectors, but she is currently on a mission, along with her team, to create exceptional colleague experiences that will both attract and retain the best talent across the Byggfakta Group global footprint.

How did you get into the industry? “My route into the industry wasn’t a direct one – I think I was attracted to the idea of a role in an industry I didn’t know much about! My career has allowed me to pivot through multiple sectors, so I was open and excited to the industry’s challenges.”

What led you to want to work in the industry? “It was a pretty big pivot for me, but the opportunity for change and transformation in a rapidly moving industry was a real pull factor in my decision to change direction. Almost seven years later I’m still very happy with the leap of faith that I took to join NBS and more recently my role as Chief People Officer at Byggfakta Group.”

Do you feel that women are fairly represented in the industry? Have perceptions changed? “I’m really proud that Byggfakta Group is an almost 50/50 employer across our global footprint, however, we do still have a distance to travel for fair representation in the industry, particularly for Board and senior management.

“Nonetheless, the understanding, intent and call to action for change is authentic, at least in my experience. I also don’t think our industry stands alone in this challenge. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by lots of incredible women within our global business who are hugely competent, proud and ambitious trailblazers in this industry, changing perceptions, and standing as role models for all the right reasons.

“My experience has been one of support and advocacy from women in the industry and a genuine allyship from wider colleagues to take responsibility to ensure we improve our representation and create a culture with pathways that support all colleagues, including women, to thrive and build careers.”

How could the industry attract more women? “We need to go back to basics and ensure that our hiring processes are absent of bias and that our employee value proposition is balanced on the talent pipeline we want for our future workforce.

“We also need to get comfortable in challenging each other to impact change from the ground up. The construction industry has years of history to unwind to be positioned as an industry of choice for women but I’m hopeful that we can change perceptions through visibility of role models, flexible and family-friendly benefits for all colleagues, pathways to progression and routes to join our industry that are absent of bias and welcoming to all.”

What's the one piece of advice you would give to women thinking about pursuing a career in the sector? “Don’t be put off by any historic perceptions or bias, come and join us and judge for yourself! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the progressive changes that are being made to ensure we create fantastic experiences and careers for all colleagues across the construction sector.”

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