Call the team on: 01257 483 940
    image image image

    Women in Construction – Jo Murray – Sales Manager

    Jen: We’ll start on basically how long you’ve been in the construction industry and where you’ve started?

    Jo: Okay, so this year has been 21 years.

    Jen: So, did you start straight from school?

    Jo: I did, so I joined when I was 16 and I joined a company at the time, and I just wanted to get a little bit of money over the summer holidays. I was actually waiting for my GCSE results at the time, and I joined as an office junior, so I started at the bottom, and it turns out I quite liked it and was doing all right. And yeah, they wanted me to stay.

    Jen: So how did you start off then? How did you like fall into that role? Is it just something you applied for?

    Jo: I just found the job. It was just it was a completely fell into it. I had no idea. It was quite local to me at the time, and I had no idea what it was, to be fair, but they were selling and what the whole company was about until I got there. Then I learnt on the job really, which is what I like doing. I like being hands on and learning as I go. Perfect. And what is it you’re doing now? So now I’m a sales manager and I’m the manager of the sales team as well as looking after an area. So, I was quite keen on as well as progressing my career into management. I wanted to keep that contact with the customers as well. So, I look after the North currently and we have some other externals across the country, and I have had my happy little team. Oh. How do you find going from managing your own area to then taking on your own team and that transition to managing? It’s busy, but it’s interesting. I think the best thing about it is that I am actually physically doing that role as well. So, I understand where they’re coming from, when they’ve got issues, or we’ve got challenges to overcome. We do it as a team and we share information with each other. What’s happening in different areas, I quite like that because I’m there and I’m on the ground. Sometimes you can get management level that have never actually done the role themselves. So, when you’re trying to address a better way of doing it or a smarter way of working, I can help with that because I’m doing it myself.

    Jen: When you were leaving school what was your dream job?

    Jo: So, I didn’t really have a dream job, but I was heavily in to sports at school I was on every single team, every single hockey team! I quite liked the teamwork of it all and at such a young age I love the competitive side to it too. I have kind of carried that on to this day really, I’m still in a hockey team and I ran a marathon last year and my own children are now into football which I love, and they also have that competitive streak so you can blame me for that!

    I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do hence waiting for my results to come through and at the time there wasn’t a lot of direction if you like sports other than becoming a teacher, but I didn’t want to do that.

    Jen: yes, that wasn’t the same opportunities as there are now.

    Jo: Exactly so that’s what I wanted to do, and I don’t regret wanting to do that because I’m still the doing sports side now and the whole team ethos is embedded into me now and that’s part of working within sales and also running a team too.

    Jen: So, when you’re a young female 16-year-old going into an industry where it’s perceived as being a very male oriented industry. So as a young 16-year-old how did you feel going into the industry, did you feel intimidated or was it something you were really comfortable with?

    Jo: I was a 100% comfortable and the people that I was surrounded with were brilliant and they wanted to help bring up younger people and they wanted to pass their knowledge on. I used to sit in the sales meetings not really understanding all of it but that doesn’t matter the more you hear something the more you understand it and I grew up with that. It’s funny you say perceived, the construction industry is pretty much seen as a very male dominated industry especially the on-site part the bit of the actual construction, the muddy boots, and the bit about being outside. Now I do go outside myself I’ve got the boots and the hard hat, the hi vis in the car and I quite enjoy that side of it and that is the male dominated side. There is so much more to the industry before you get to that point and that end building for example because there is the whole planning process of it there’s the whole estimating side of it and getting it through to that point. So, there are a lot of different roles within that industry that can be explored that aren’t necessarily males. There were civil engineers that I grew up with and they were all male at the time, but you are starting to see more and more women coming through.

    Jen: so even now 20 years on, you are going out on site, in that environment do you think you are coming across more women on site?

    Jo: Yes

    Jen: Have you noticed the difference from 20 years ago to today?

    Jo: Oh yeah. I mean I didn’t go out on-site too much when I was younger and first joined but i did go on days out at that point, now I just go out by myself. It is mainly still men, but I do see a lot more women out on site and a lot of people come out from the office to view the site as it’s being progressed as well. So, it is good to see that side as well, it does make you feel more comfortable, however the men on-site do really go out of their way to help me as well and are really good with me and they walk me around the site to take me to the right place and that’s really comforting.

    Jen: there is a lot of talk at the minute about us trying to bring in new talent into the construction industry whether that be someone that’s leaving school, or they’ve just graduated or even that they want to transition so they could be working within retail making that transition into the construction industry. Do you agree that there is a shortage and what are your thoughts, what do you think we need to be doing?

    Jo: Yeah, so when I first started in the industry there was myself and another colleague that were the young ones that came in at the time and we were still those young ones 10 years later, so I like to think! But there was no one that came in after us we were the young ones at that point still. But it does need to evolve we do need to be telling people what the industry is all about because I completely fell into that role, and I know a lot of other people who have fallen into it as well and once they are in there, they love it. There are so many opportunities within the industry once you are in and you start learning whether it be sales or anything like that, there are a lot of transferable skills so as long as you are good with people and as long as you are confident in what you are doing and have the management and the learning behind you just go for it is what I say! It is up to you about how you lead your life and if you want to get higher and higher and higher it is up to you to climb that ladder just have the confidence in yourself and just go for it.

    Jen: from an employer’s point of view or even from us as an industry how do you think we drive these people in and accept these people into the industry. There has been a common theme from speaking to people that have fallen into the industry, but how would you think that we could overcome this so that people don’t just fall into the industry, we are educating people, but we are also welcoming people from the outside the industry. I know a lot of it starts with going in speaking to schools, what are your thoughts?

    Jo: I think you are right with the education side of it. People just perceive the industry as being on-site all the time which is what you kind of think of when you re growing up, construction playing with the diggers as a child, but it’s so much bigger than that and we know that because we are in that industry now. Other people outside that industry don’t understand it because they haven’t had that exposure and they are only going to get that exposure from people inside the industry educating those externally whether it be in a youngster coming out of school starting a quantity surveying course for example and seeing where they can take their own career from that path or moving into buying.

    Jen: but there so many things you can do with that qualification isn’t there and so many different avenues you can take.

    Jo: Yes definitely. Especially sales. Like I said I started internally within sales and then I grew to be going out on the road a little bit with my manager at the time doing a bit of key account management work. I then had my children and then I did go part time at that point for a couple of years but just because you are having children doesn’t mean you can’t carry on with your career so I went down to 3 days for a couple of years and within those three days I carried on the career path that I was on so you can do both which is great.

    Jen: I think that is important isn’t it. I think one of the things as well is employed being more flexible. I know you’ve touched on that you went part time after you had your boys, I was the same when I had my boys and obviously, I have been here for ten years now. Jo and Gareth were brilliant I was so lucky I was able to work term times only, so I was able to spend all holidays with the kids but also working and building my career at the same time. So, I really strongly believe that employers need to be more flexible so that we can keep people within the industry as well but also make it so that it is a flexible industry, you can still have a family and build your career at the same time.

    Jo: Exactly. It isn’t one or the other. Even the men now have equal rights in taking more maternity leave which does allow the women back into work if that’s how the family dynamic is set up and I think it does teach our children as well that you can do more than one thing. For me I joined the industry before I was married before I had kids, this is my thing and it’s always been something that I am passionate about and I have put all my effort into this and I am proud of where I’ve got and I’ve climbed the ladder from the very bottom and I’ve done that myself with the support around me from amazing managers and amazing companies in that industry now I want to give back to the industry in being a manager myself passing that onto other people and evening passing it onto the young generation let’s bring them up through the industry and attract new people in.

    Jen: So, we’ve just had national apprenticeship week and I know I spoke a lot on LinkedIn it is something I am so passionate about is the apprenticeship side of things. I started as an apprentice, and I just think they are absolutely brilliant. I know you’ve done your qualification yourself when you were in your first role, what is it that you did your qualification in?

    Jo: Yeah, so like I said joining the industry fresh young and not knowing much about it I started off as an office junior, I had the knack for talking to people on the phone even if it was just taking messages at that point, it doesn’t matter it was still showing a willingness to learn. So, off the back of that I was put onto lots of internal sales courses, and I did go to university as well, so I was on a college course to get onto my university course at Salford University which I did part time in the evenings whilst also working. Because I did it through the Chartered Institute of Marketing It was a marketing diploma that I did and although it is marketing it wasn’t just about glossy brochures and website design it was about the market and through CIM it was all to do with the role that you were in currently. So, all the essays that I wrote were about the place in the market, the product, price, mix everything like that. It just opens up opportunities and understanding within the industry and how it all knits together, so I graduated cap and gown from that as well. I was just really pleased to have that opportunity to learn something specific about what we do in everyday life. It just goes to show if you don’t know what you want to do after you leave school there’s always options to get in with a company and if you find that support just do everything that you can to grow yourself.