Fortune Favours the Brave!

Brenda is our first female site management trainee. She was a physiotherapist in the NHS … until she fell out of love with the mundanity of it all and decided to take a leap into construction. Here we ask about her story:

YOUR JOURNEY INTO ARJ 

After I left the NHS, I worked in the events industry for a short time, but sadly Covid-19 hit and the industry came to a standstill. I have a friend who is a quantity surveyor and she suggested I look at employment within the construction sector. I took her at her word and joined an employment programme with Women in Construction, then a 3-week work placement with Quantam Vantage. These opportunities gave me an insight into construction, along with a CSCS card and an asbestos awareness certificate.

Looking for potential construction jobs online proved fruitless as they all required experience. I made the decision to visit local sites and enquire in person. I tried two, with no luck, before arriving at the ARJ site in Crimscott Street, Bermondsey.

When I approached the demise, I was escorted to the temporary site office and introduced to the senior contract manager and senior site manager. Seeing a stranger at their door, they immediately assumed I was there to complain! However, they listened and within two weeks I had been put forward to the construction director, interviewed and offered employment. I still can’t believe how quick the process was!

HOW ARE YOU GETTING ON?

I absolutely love being on site! I am involved in so many activities from daily inductions to ordering materials, and everything in-between. I also set up our site office from scratch. It was a former butcher shop adjacent to the site, so I learned so much in my first few weeks.

Everyone has made me feel incredibly welcome and I feel so comfortable on site. I feel I can ask any question, however simple it may sound, and I get an answer that helps me understand. ARJ have been extremely positive and very supportive. They took a chance on me and believed I had transferable skills and I hope I am proving them right!

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOUR FUTURE HEADING?

It is very early days, but I am very excited for my future. I have quickly learned that construction is an extremely broad industry. I believe I am the first female management trainee within the company (outside of quantity surveying) and am just starting my Construction HNC at university. All being well, this will lead me onto a degree programme. I very much see myself staying within site management, but who knows! I am just grateful to be here and very much look forward to continuing to grow with ARJ.

WHAT HER NEW COLLEAGUES SAY

Our initial reaction to Brenda was instant, we knew she would be a fantastic addition to the site. She was confident, eloquent and had ‘gumption’.

Brenda has an incredibly positive attitude, she’s engaging, great to be around and very well liked on site. We fully support her journey within ARJ and would love to see more women in the industry. They say men and women think differently, so working alongside each other means we should be able to cover all bases!

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