QPANI sets out to make the construction materials industry and wider construction sector more appealing to women by highlighting the important role they already play.
As in many walks of life and across many industrial sectors the important and valuable role played by women is regrettably underestimated.
Yet the career opportunities for women in construction materials industry are endless, ranging from environmental management, to engineering, and marketing. Here’s a look at some women in construction who have forged successful careers –
Compliance Manager, McQuillan Companies
As Compliance Manager with McQuillan Companies, Laverne’s responsibilities include maintaining and effectively promoting the companies’ integrated management systems on safety, quality and the environment, ensuring compliance with product specifications, licencing, statutory obligations and industry best practices. She has worked within the construction materials sector for over 12 years. Early in her career Laverne worked in the agri-environmental sector and was able to transfer her skills and knowledge of policies, regulation and stakeholder engagement to the quarrying industry working on environmental and sustainable development projects with various government departments, councils and NGOs.
Commenting on her current role, Laverne said, “For me, the attraction of the industry is that it is always demanding, dynamic and goal oriented. The numerous highways and construction schemes we work on and their individual project life-cycles means you are regularly working with a variety of talents and professionals from our own engineers, quarry technical and logistics teams to the supply chain and sub-contractor trades we employ.
“It is very rewarding to be part of an industry that contributes to the built environment and sustainability. I also enjoy the benefit of being both office based and outdoors visiting sites, constantly keeping up-to-date with latest developments and regulatory requirements.”
HGV Driver, FP McCann
There are over 300,000 HGV drivers in the UK at present but only 2% of these are female. Laura Nelson of FP McCann is helping to grow this statistic.
Laura completed her category C HGV exams earlier this year and has now commenced her driving career with FP McCann at the company’s Knockloughrim Quarry depot. Laura recently married Kyle, who also drives for HP McCann, operating a ready mixed concrete lorry from the company’s Mallusk depot. She comes from a construction/farming family and has always wanted to drive large HGVs for a living.
Accounts Technician & Office Manager, Lagan Products NI
Lisa has worked in the construction industry for 25 years and joined the Lagan Group in 1992. Her role has grown along with the company and Lisa has gained a wealth of knowledge across various Lagan businesses in Ireland.
Lisa is an experienced Accounts Technician within Lagan Products Northern Ireland head office which involves all aspects of accounting. This however is only part of her role. Lisa is also the Office Manager and Team Leader at Lagan Products – a varied and challenging position which involves coaching and mentoring members of staff throughout the business on systems and processes, and helping staff collaborate and communication across Lagan Products’ various sites and across the wider Lagan Group.
Due to Lisa’s vast knowledge and experience within the industry and the company itself, she is often called upon to contribute ideas and solve issues for a variety of working teams.
Lisa said, “I really enjoy working for the Lagan Group and working within the construction industry. No two days are the same and I am lucky to work with a great team of colleagues and customers.
“I have worked in various roles across the Lagan Group and, during that time, moved to different locations and met new people. In my experience I have found that, if you have a positive attitude, work hard, and above all else enjoy your job, the opportunities are there to progress and achieve your goals within this fantastic industry.”
Despatch Controller, Creagh Concrete Products Ltd
Angela joined the Creagh in 1984 as one of the first female members of staff; this has now grown to over 50 female employees.
Angela has worked for Creagh Concrete for 33 years, of which 28 years has been in a despatch role; both for local deliveries within Ireland as well as organising specialist haulage to England and Scotland. Efficient and organised despatch is key to the success of this position in Creagh and, as part of her role Angela downloads and records all driver’s tachograph information, and produces comprehensive reports for the Transport Manager on a weekly basis.
She has extensive; geographical, product and transport/fleet knowledge; and these key skills are crucial to a job that Angela has down to a fine art. By ensuring on time delivery for thousands of customers throughout the years, Angela epitomises the emphasis which the company puts on customer service and the ‘can do’ attitude which is encouraged at Creagh Concrete.
Agricultural Sales Representative, Creagh Concrete Products
Aine graduated from University of Ulster in 2004 with an Honours Degree in Leisure Events & Cultural Management and after spending time travelling in Australia, she joined Creagh Concrete in July 2006, as a Despatch Controller in the company’s Dunloy office.
A year later she became the first ever woman to join Creagh Concrete’s agricultural sales department, where she travels throughout the UK and Ireland to meet current and perspective customers to discuss Creagh’s wide range of agricultural products.
She is continually involved in product development and innovation – assisting in the development of new agricultural products and initiatives in response to customer needs.
Aine is passionate about customer service and is heavily involved in organising the despatch and installation of all agricultural products, often being onsite to oversee same. Customers regularly comment on her impressive technical knowledge. As well as championing her role as an agricultural sales representative, Aine also holds a NEBOSH in Health and Safety and is an Appointed Person (lifting operations). She also holds first aid and Level 3 in Education and Training, Unit 1 Understanding Roles, and Responsibilities and Relationships in Education and Training.
Credit Controller, Creagh Concrete Products Ltd
Rosemary McLarnon has worked as a credit controller for Creagh Concrete Products Ltd for 32 years, having joined the company in 1985. The role of credit controller is a key position within the company and she has a natural ability to build good relationships.
Being the Credit Controller is only a part of Rosemary’s role at Creagh, she is also part of the Ireland sales team for readymix concrete and blocks.
Having been an integral part of the company over the years, Rosemary played a key role in the implementation of the company’s first computer system. She is an extremely popular member of staff, not just with her colleagues but also with the extensive customer base at Creagh who have gotten to know her well over the years.
Her daughter Annmarie also works for Creagh within the accounts and payroll department; as does her granddaughter Erin.
Rosemary said, “I really enjoy working for Creagh Concrete. No two days are the same and I am very lucky to work with a great team of people and customers.”
Company Solicitor, Creagh Concrete Products Ltd
Catherine qualified as a Solicitor in 2009 and joined the company in 2011, having previously worked for a firm of solicitors in Belfast specialising in mainly commercial and property matters.
Creagh Concrete is a family-owned business and Catherine works with her father, three uncles, five cousins and her brother-in-law. Her role in Creagh Concrete as Solicitor and Company Secretary is varied and involves, commercial, debt, property, planning, transport and compliance matters.
Catherine is also involved in the management of the company’s Ireland Sales Department; this encompasses a wide range of products and sub departments and includes the company’s Ireland flooring and local aggregates, blocks and concrete division. Working with colleagues, customers and drivers regarding a wide range of issues in particular health and safety on a daily basis no two days are the same!
HGV Driver, RTU
For almost two years Lucy Hurrell has been enjoying life on the road, driving for RTU in Monkstown.
Her ambition was always to follow in the footsteps of her truck driving father and Lucy, from Randalstown, passed her HGV test at 18. At the time, she was thought to be the only woman in Northern Ireland who got behind the wheel of a cement truck every day for a living.
“I deliver all over Northern Ireland and I really enjoy getting behind the wheel of a truck”, said Lucy. “Every day is different and I could be anywhere. Most of the site workers, who are usually guys, are very welcoming and couldn’t do enough for me when I arrive on a job. However, there are a few who whisper ‘she shouldn’t be driving a truck’. I just laugh it off but it does add to the pressure when I realise all eyes are on me when reversing or tipping at a site.”
Lucy added, “I always wanted to be a truck driver and was one of the youngest in Northern Ireland to pass the HGV test. With no experience and high insurance costs, it was difficult to find a job in the beginning. Companies were not so keen to take on a young inexperienced driver and one who is female. But I saw a job ad for RTU and sent in an application and thankfully got the job. I am always up for a challenge and this job certainly gives me that. I love it!”
Despatch Controller, Northstone (NI) Limited
Dympna Owens joined the former Hadden Quarries (subsequently R J Maxwell & Son Ltd and latterly Northstone (NI) Limited) at its Carrickmore location some 28 years ago; just as the Hadden business was acquired by the group. As a Despatch Controller, Dympna fulfils the vital role of greeting customers, dealing with telephone/e-mail enquiries, despatching product, organising transportation and delivering the levels of service customers have come to expect. It takes a special type of person to undertake this role, as the job requires a wide range of competencies including selling, technical knowledge, organisational ability, communication skills and much, much more!
Over the years, Dympna has definitely become the customers’ ‘go to’ person for arranging product deliveries and dealing with their many and varied queries.
She said, “I always aim to provide a prompt and efficient service to our customers, as I do not like to let any of them down. It is also important to have a polite and efficient telephone manner as it is vital that as much information as possible is obtained from them to ensure the delivery goes according to plan.”
Tender Administrator, Northstone (NI) Limited Materials Division
Being a farmer’s daughter and well used to working in the dust and dirt, didn’t put this relatively young lady off working within the construction industry!
Patricia joined the former Farrans Group as an Estimating Assistant after completing her University Degree and having fulfilled various roles at a number of different locations, she has been working at Northstone Materials’ Division Head Office at Croaghan, just outside Coleraine, for the past 10 years in the Estimating Department.
It has been the variation of roles over the years and working alongside all levels of personnel within the company that has helped Patricia gain a wealth of knowledge. Her can-do attitude and positive approach to her role, supports her to strive to meet the strict deadlines required.
“I thoroughly enjoy working within the Estimating Department and can say that no two days are the same. It has been a privilege to have been asked to cover the various roles and work with so many colleagues (past and present) and meet some of our customers.”
Administration Officer, Robinson Quarry Masters Ltd
Charlene started working for Robinson Quarry Masters as an Administration Officer in 2011 – varied role that coves everything from answering telephones to producing quotes, invoices and statements for customers.
This role also involves assisting in the despatch office during busy periods, which has helped Charlene to build relationships with customers alongside improving both her product knowledge and understanding of current projects. As a result she is able to see the bigger picture and can advise customers on their needs when required. Having come from a retail background, this current role was a complete change direction for Charlene.
She said, “From her my time working here I feel like I have progressed a lot and have a better understanding of the quarrying industry and products available. I thoroughly enjoy my work at Robinsons, and look forward to progressing further in the future.”
Despatch Manager, Norman Emerson Group
The role of despatch manager is pivotal to the efficient running of any haulage or delivery business, and requires particular skills and planning abilities. This is certainly the case for Norman Emerson Group Limited, whose Despatch Manager, Emma Kerr, has ensured on time delivery for thousands of customers during her 10 years with the company. Emma joined Norman Emerson Group in 2006 as an Administrative Clerk, and has worked her way up through the ranks to the position of Despatch Manager in the company’s prolific haulage division. Emma’s job entails looking after all the planning and logistics associated with scheduling more than 200 deliveries on any given day, and requires a cool head and logical, rational thinking.
On a weekly basis, Emma downloads and records all the tracker and tachograph information, and produces comprehensive reports that are shares with senior management and the company accountant. She also line manages more than 16 drivers, checking working hours, holidays and training requirements, and produces weekly, driver specific reports.
Emma’s role is crucial to the day to day running of Norman Emerson Group, and she is highly regarded by staff and management alike.
For more information on careers within the construction materials industry and wider construction visit www.goconstruct.org/working-in-construction/women-in-construction or www.careersinquarrying.co.uk