International Women’s Day: Nicola Burley, Director
09 March, 2021
Author: Pick Everard
Nicola Burley heads up our project management team in the West Midlands. She is responsible for the overall delivery of project management services in the region, ensuring that our teams have the resources and skills necessary to meet our clients’ requirements. With more than 16 years’ experience in the industry, Nicola draws on expertise gained working in both the private and public sector to deliver considered advice to her clients and successfully manage project teams.
Why is International Women’s Day important to you and how do you ‘choose to challenge’ in your role?
I think International Women’s Day is important as I believe it gives us the opportunity to take the time out of our busy diaries to acknowledge, promote and celebrate the importance of equality and female’s contribution at all levels within the workplace.
In terms of how I ‘choose to challenge’, I am fortunate to have a fantastic team of both men and women that I aim to support and mentor as much as possible. I am a big believer in making sure that my team is aware of all the opportunities available to them so that they can grow and develop as individuals to progress in their careers.
What challenges have you faced during your career as a female in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and have you seen change towards gender equality throughout your career?
I am asked this quite often, but I have never seen myself as a female in a male-dominated industry, but rather a member of the team that’s been lucky enough to work with colleagues who have never treated me any differently to anyone else. While I have had the odd occasion in the past where someone has assumed I am a secretary because I am a woman, those times have now changed and it is very much the norm that women are in senior positions.
My very first job was working on a construction site, where I was one of, if not the only female member of the team. In the past 20 years, I have seen the number of women in the industry grow enormously, so yes, I believe that the industry is moving in the right direction, towards positive gender equality.
How do you think we can achieve gender balance in the industry, and what do you think this will achieve?
Educating young women on the wide range of career choices available within the industry is vital to pushing gender equality forwards. When I was a young girl, I didn’t dream about working on a building site. It very much appeared that building jobs were the likes of bricklayers and plumbers, that were never presented as an option for girls. However, the reality is there are a huge number of opportunities in the industry we were never made aware of at school.
Construction has in the past had a reputation for doing things ‘the way we always have’ and not being quite as progressive as other industries. But this is something that is now rapidly changing, and I believe part of that change is having that more balanced view at all levels within the industry.
What advice would you offer to young women who may be considering (or discounting) working within the construction industry?
Try and speak to people who do work in the industry and get their view – personally, I love working in construction. It is an exciting area of work with countless opportunities, where no two days are the same. I work with a varied range of people, including teachers, police officers, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and even politicians.
There really is a sense of achievement when you can look back and reflect on a completed project that has benefitted individuals, businesses and/or local communities.