I hadn’t originally planned on a career in the construction waste industry, but when my father died unexpectedly in 1985, I, along with my siblings had to step up to continue the legacy he had created – I was only 17 years old.Entering an industry that was, and still is in some areas, predominately male at a young age was not without its difficulties, but I quickly learnt to adapt and demonstrate that I didn’t just deserve to be there, but that I could flourish. I often found that I wasn’t taken seriously, with many clients demanding to speak to a male senior member of staff whenever I answered the phone. Rather than let it affect me, I began handing phone calls to one of the staff members I had personally trained, confident that I was delegating effectively. When starting out, many of the men in the company presumed I wasn’t savvy about certain regulations or equipment. I would ultimately surprise them with my knowledge of safe working practices, which I have strived to enforce during my time here. A key achievement for me was when I took over the safety and training of O’Donovan’s HGV drivers, even creating my own driver Certificate of Professional Competence course –one of the first to be tailored specifically to the exact training needs of drivers working across the waste industry. When you make up such a small proportion of the workforce, the most important first step is to observe how the company operates – not just the professional working practices but the relationships and dialogue between team members, and how you can be involved in that. You can also learn a lot by trying out different roles – for instance even if you enter at a managerial level, I would suggest spending a day with the contact centre or sales team and immersing yourself in the environment. Ask questions about their role and understand their daily tasks. Read more female-based articles:
- Where in the UK can the nation’s hardest-working women be found?
- We’re declaring war on antiquated prejudices holding back women
- We tend to be harder on female leaders when they make mistakes
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