STEM sectors receive a lot of criticism for a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity and other demographics. Have you noticed a diversity problem in your sector? What are your thoughts on this and what’s needed to be more inclusive?
I think that, as in many sectors, there is a lack of diversity in the construction industry. However, I do fundamentally believe that the roles for women exist, and I am proof of it. I have received nothing but encouragement throughout my entire career, and I can’t stress how important this has been in my own development. I have doubted my ability for certain roles before, but I truly believe that it is our responsibility as women to fearlessly say yes when a career opportunity comes our way. I have learned that you have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and empower yourself to take the leaps of faith when you need to.
It is no secret that boards need more women and, in my experience, that is something that resonates with business leaders, and the appetite exists to make this happen. I suppose the fact of the matter is that, given the lack of women on boards, it is very possible that in many organisations, there are no female role models for female employees, and it makes some roles difficult to perceive as possibilities.
Who is your role model and why?
My parents. They instilled a work ethic in me, and they taught me that the magic formula is to work hard, be personable and be respectful of the people you work with. You have to build meaningful relationships with the people who support you and who you support. It’s the platform from which your opinion and your presence will be valued. They also taught me to take the untravelled path and have the confidence to do the things that have never been done before. This has to be coupled with having conviction and being able to deliver the things you say you will.
What books have you read that you would recommend?
Books about emotional intelligence are the ones that are closest to my heart because I really have learned so much from them. Daniel Goleman’s Working with Emotional Intelligence would be a particular favourite. As a member of a leadership team, the most important skill you need to master is to be able to understand your own behaviour and actions, and to be able to identify the same in others.
What are the essential tools and resources that get you through the working week?
My iPhone and videoconferencing. Videoconferencing in particular is massively underutilised. I have teams who report to me from all corners of the world, so I couldn’t do my job without it.
Herbal teas, exercise, Google and LinkedIn – I am a passionate supporter of fearless networking. Finally, my team of course and my colleagues. I am lucky to work with a fantastic bunch of people in Kingspan.