For Part 2 of this Careers Series post, I asked Anjali some questions about her and her role as a Project QS working for a Contractor in the Built Environment.
What is your job and what does it entail?
I am bewildered at the fact that in a world where society is breaking norms, becoming inclusive to different types of personalities and cultures why such a large industry like Construction still falls short of inclusivity, when we are progressing on other fronts like technology. We need to be open to the prospects that maybe one day females will be running our industry. Though we still have a long way to go, acknowledging the problem is key to change.
By job title I oversee the project management and financial status of multiple projects that we undertake. Duties include, traditional off the drawing ‘take offs’, onsite measuring, monthly project valuations, pricing, cash flow forecasting, onsite project management, QA sheets, sign off sheets, cross checking of schedules with deliveries and organising deliveries. However, due to the size of our firm I have taken on other wider duties such as: Health and Safety - completing all accreditations (CHAS, SafeContractor, SMAS, ConstructionLine) and working with our external auditor reviewing and auditing all site safety. Sustainability duties include retaining our ISO:14001 accreditation as well as clerical accounting duties.
How did you get into Surveying? What is the typical route? Are there any other paths to getting into your field? And how would you recommend getting started?
There are many routes to get into construction, but in an age where the skills shortage is beyond an overnight medicinal cure, we need to see a bigger intake in students from sixth form and college level.
For those who want to get into construction but see it too broadly I would say, close your eyes and think what do you want to do. Imagine yourself in the different roles and think if you can see yourself in that job. Work out your strengths and play to them. Do not let anyone else tell you what you should be because then you are letting opinions influence you.
If you are practical, explore the apprenticeship schemes for skilled work. The gap for entering this market currently is huge, and what you will gain from these schemes and courses will be beneficial for your future.
If you are willing to make sacrifices and feel positively challenged by University and working simultaneously then consider a similar route to me. Benefits here are the possibility of companies sponsoring you for University and the bonus of being able to save your money compared to paying off educational debt, which in the long term will prove helpful. It is a tough battle but the life experiences you learn are inexpressible.
What do you like about your job?
I absolutely love construction. Simply for the fact that every day is different. It’s a cliché but in construction you are learning something new every day. Sometimes something new about yourself. A new problem is so joyous (once resolved of course), but you don’t realise your limits and what you are capable off until you resolve that problem halting project progression. I love my job because I surprise myself more than it surprises me. In an environment of team work, you are constantly working together compared to other industries where the culture is more competitive and the dog eat dog world is more apparent.
What is the best and worst thing about your job?
Working for the family firm, I get the sense of fending for my family and not a corporate organisation. It can hinder parts of my job and judgement as I always see it as my own especially in terms of money, but that’s when you learn to be more versatile. You learn you have to wear both good cop bad cop boots. Even after 5 years though, I am still trying to prove myself in the firm and prove to people that I wasn’t handed this position but I have worked for it.
The worst part about being a subcontractor, is that some (and I only mean some) of the main contractor staff look down on you. Your thoughts and opinions can be shunned by that site manager who thinks he knows better than you, so you bite your tongue for the sake of working relationships. I think the hierarchy created and perception of different status for the supply chain partners is something our industry needs to work on
How did you find working and studying simultaneously?
Coming from the subcontractor background and being a part-time student meant I had the status of a person working for a main contractor, but the knowledge level of a full time student. I was clueless, and that was partly the reason why I spent 9am till 6pm every Saturday and Sunday in the library making it my second home.
If you could give any advice to anyone looking to get into construction what would it be?
If I could give vital advice to anyone considering to enter construction I would say simply, hard work pays off. There are no short cuts to succeeding but there are short cuts if you work hard from the offset. Seize the moments and be patient with your learning. Nothing gets built in a day, and nothing for sure is perfected in a day!
Change; it’s inevitable in construction therefore we can’t resist it. The one thing I wish for is the change in perception of women on site. You can be walking on site and receive thousands of glares. Popping in to Tesco in your PPE and the public stare. I can not wait for the day that women on a building site become the norm. The day we do not put additional attention on females and those from BAME backgrounds entering construction will be our industry’s validation of a job well done. Until then, we have a long journey ahead. As you read this right now, there will be a small population trying to find their way in the macho world of construction. I hope to continue to be a role model to those who want to joint the industry, no matter what colour, race, religion or gender.
Life 2 – Anjali 3.
As the famous humanitarian once said “ Be the change you wish to see in the world “ – and that is exactly what I will continue to do!
Anjali regularly speaks at construction venues across London so look out for her at upcoming events!
If you have any questions regarding a career in construction, please get in touch via email, the website or follow me on Twitter @jesstabibi and Instagram @girlonabuildingsite