I know I’m fortunate to work for an organisation that encourages and promotes pushing your professional development and supporting you to be the best you can be in this industry.
After completing an architecture degree at Sheffield Hallam University and entering an architectural practice, it dawned on me that this wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to get hands on and see the site. I changed tact and entered the Wates Graduate scheme in 2016. Whilst doing my degree, I had been working towards Chartership with RIBA but now that architecture was no longer my calling, I didn’t want to lose that focus and I began my PDP route to CIOB membership in January 2017.
Then life took over. Although my company encourages Chartership, the day job still had to be priority and my work load is fast paced and demanding. It was difficult to carve out time to complete my assessments outside of work but I was so thankful to my assessor, Bruce White. He encouraged me, checked in with me on a regular basis, and essentially pestered and pushed me across the finish line and what a relief it was. Although tough, the sense of pride I got by overcoming that final hurdle, to see MCIOB after my name, was all worth it.
I’ve been a member now for a month, but I got involved with the work of the CIOB before then. I’m an active part of the Novus young professional network in Manchester, which has given me opportunities to invest in my development through events and being on the committee. It’s important to recognise that your working environment can only push you so far and being part of a professional body like the CIOB can help you tackle the areas of development that you can’t in the day-to-day of your job. For example, being a site manager, you don’t often get to use the professional skills of presenting and leadership on site but I want to be prepared with those skills for when I need them. CIOB events provide that chance to learn, as do the CIOB Academy courses.
As a female member of the CIOB and in this industry, it’s important to acknowledge the changes needed in diversity in the built environment as you still need some grit and a determined attitude to get by. There is still a feeling that, as a woman, I have to work that bit harder to prove my worth. That was part of the reason I wanted to get my membership as being MCIOB has definitely boosted my confidence and the belief that I deserve to be here. But things are changing! At our Manchester Novus Committee meetings, the women outweigh the men 5 to 1. I’ve also been able to see how I’ve changed the views of those around me. I’ve had many conversations on site, many with men asking me ‘what made you do this’. These conversations give me a chance to explain; I love this industry just as much as they do and now I’m not treated any differently. I’ve had the opportunity to change the working environment too as I seem to bring a calming influence to site. There is a lost passion and a missing praise culture in this industry and we need to be celebrating the successes more and throughout the job, not just at the end. We have a tendency to be quick about the negatives and ignore the hard work and value we bring to the public with our skills and expertise. I have different tactics for managing people, focusing on those positives and praise, and that seems to have challenged the status quo and shown there are different ways of dealing with situations and people professionally that can bring pride back into our work.
Becoming chartered has also made me feel like I stand out, for the right reasons. There aren’t many MCIOB in my team and many believe, wrongly, that it’s not for them or that they can’t do it. I hope that by seeing me, a young female, accomplishing this that they are inspired and encouraged to follow suit. It’s also made me feel that my voice is valid and welcomed. I believe it’s important to give back and contribute to our industry, and I think I have good ideas to contribute so I’ll be using my membership to speak out and make a difference.