Anjali Pindoria is a Project Surveyor at Avi Contracts, she is the proud recipient of the Constructors Prize from the Worshipful Company of Constructors and you can find her speaking at a number of Construction events about her experience as a woman working in the Built Environment.
Namaste and Hello. I am Anjali Pindoria, a 90’s baby, devotee of Hinduism, aspiring black belt in Taekwondo and wishful for equality and inclusivity of minority groups across all levels in construction. I am a Project Surveyor working for Avi Contracts - a family run subcontractor who specialise in Carpentry and Joinery works. The story behind me working here is like a flash mob – it happened so fast I wanted to slow down, take a step back and see where all the life changes were coming from.
Summer 2012 - I was already pondering on whether University was for me, but following school norms the naïve and confused 17 year old in me followed protocol applying to Brunel University to study Business and Accounting. I landed early from a family holiday on A-level results day. Standing in Baggage Reclaim at Heathrow I receive a text citing “Your application at Brunel University has been accepted”. What should have been a joyous moment, felt empty. Something was still not right and after 2 weeks, my Dad and Uncle (Directors of Avi Contracts) decided to take the plunge and let me join the firm. Without hesitation I withdrew at Brunel to begin work in “a man’s world”. It was a scary period and everything happened in a rush without me realising how much I was about to grow up.
Monday 15th October 2012 – my first day at Avi Contracts and interview for the College of North West London where I was going to undertake a HNC in Construction and the Built Environment on a part time day release basis. Though I was 4 weeks late, and my A level results made me “over qualified” for the course, I was still accepted. I started college the next day which was one of the most daunting experiences. Sitting amongst 30 boys who knew so much about construction to then hear I had an exam the following week, my jaw dropped. Are they barking mad? I cried in my head of course and thought, what had I signed up to. My life had just changed gears without me even using the clutch.
Life 1 – Anjali 0.
July 2014 - I achieved Distinctions in all 12 units of the HNC. Life 1 – Anjali 1. Though I was reluctant because of my past, I was older and knew I had to take the plunge at the University of Westminster. 3 years of hard work, sacrifices, struggles and mental battles was the challenge that I had blindly signed up to. But as I stepped into my final year, there was a feeling of pressure put on myself. It is a feeling that you can't explain nor can anyone relate to. A constant battle with your mind to relieve the pressure but stress and anxiety take over.
Life 2 – Anjali 1.
Employers, universities and even family and friends do not acknowledge these pressures and the strain that part time students go through. I get it, it’s a decision we took, but when there is less support, the same expectations for the level of work, dedication and time to put into your studying whilst being made accountable for a 9-5 job, you get weighed down. Before you know it, you're clock watching your day, ingesting more caffeine and shamelessly having a cry when it gets too much. For anyone reading this, I want you to know this isn’t a sign of weakness, but a sign of dedication. Never forget “the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled” – Plutarch.
Even on my last day, I didn’t want to exchange my library card for freedom. Construction is a subject that you find yourself building walls that will create memories and lives for others. You are holding the key in an empty room just having been fit out, for 100's of users to walk in and walk out daily. Powerful it may seem, being a female and holding that key is another pressure itself. 11th July 2017 I waved proudly at my parents from the stage at Royal Festival Hall as my name was called – I was graduating with a 1st Class Honours Degree.
Life 2 – Anjali 2.
A degree isn't for the faint hearted yet it never fails to amaze me the number of graduates looking for a job. Is it their superiority of knowledge that threatens employers, or the youth they ooze that describes their character as yobbish. I am yet to be decided.
My adventures as a subcontractor QS have just begun although I feel I have achieved a lot so far.
Being an Asian female in our industry is and will continue to prove difficult, to gain respect, but my work needs to be the tool to prove a point in the industry.
Part 2 of Anjali's blog will be available next week, don't forget to come back to read the rest of her story!