Q&A with Josie Britton winner of the Women in Construction Award at the National Building & Construction Awards 2021
Why is winning this award so important to you and how does it feel to be recognised within your industry?
It’s an amazing acknowledgement and one I’m pretty blown away by to be honest. The NBCA is a fantastic platform and recognises talent across the UK so to even be considered as a finalist was an accolade but to be able to take home an award was definitely more than I could have hoped for!
What has been your biggest career achievement to date?
Joining the board at Modus, without doubt. The business always tries to promote from within so it was always something I had my eye on but didn’t think it would happen for a long time, if at all. In hindsight, 6 months before a major global pandemic hit and everyone was questioning the future of the commercial property market might not have been the easiest time to have made this step, but no one tests a boat in calm waters and I’m still here so I’m feeling very optimistic about the future!
Biggest learning curve from the last 18 months?
I think that the overnight adjustment to fully remote meetings was harder than any of us give ourselves credit for. So much of what we do is people-centric; whether it’s bouncing ideas around and learning from each other’s experiences, or just picking up on social cues and adjusting our tone of voice and body language accordingly. Losing this interaction was really unnatural and added another layer of complexity onto what was already a challenging time. Not being able to read the room or just intuitively knowing when there’s a problem before it happens, it felt like losing one of your senses. I think coming out of it has given everyone an increased appreciation of these little interactions and whilst flexible working is now accepted and encouraged in many companies, I don’t think that VC meetings will ever be a complete substitute for the in-person meeting.
Do you think that Women in Construction is a category that should celebrated in 2021?
Oh that’s a tough question, and a big topic. I think that everyone should be recognised purely on merit, so to have a category which celebrates one group of people could feel on face value like we might be taking a step backwards. However, looking at the statistics, women represent between 11 – 14% of the construction industry depending on which survey you read, which is just astonishingly low! I think that if we’re not careful, that this social bias will become self-perpetuating because even with all the equal opportunity policies and corporate governance that companies have in place these days, if there is simply not a diverse pool of talent to recruit from then not only are we missing out on a huge pool of potentially brilliant people but the industry will not move forward. So, by actively recognising women in construction then hopefully, that pre-conceived notion of what the industry is will change and we will see those statistics start to shift.
Words of wisdom for anyone looking to get into the industry?
D&B is full on, it’s fast paced and it’s not for everyone, but once you find your groove, it’s hard to beat. Don’t be put off by your educational background or experience- some of our most senior members of staff started off in completely unrelated fields and worked their way up. It’s an industry where hard work, talent, and drive are recognised and encouraged - everything else can be learned. Find a company whose ethos and culture is a good fit - if you enjoy your work and the people you work with, then everything else will follow.