International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women's Day, a few of the many inspiring women at Ryder spoke about the construction industry, personal achievements and what it's like working at Ryder.

Jodie Carson, PlanBEE apprentice, Newcastle

Why the construction industry?
I chose the construction industry because of the constant element of innovation and opportunity for evolving design as part of a bigger picture.

What could be done to make working in the built environment more inspiring to women?
A lot of the time, I think we are drawn into any career in part by the experiences of other people. I, for one, feel motivated by other people and their enthusiasm.  Therefore, interaction with women who have established careers in construction can act as inspiration for young women looking to find their place within the built environment.

I recently had the opportunity to take part in an NE1 event for young women which brought together a variety of career paths to share experiences.  Although I had already made my decision to enter the construction industry via PlanBEE, listening to the experience of women already working in the built environment was incredibly valuable.

What’s the best thing about being involved in PlanBEE / working with Ryder?
My decision to join PlanBEE was inspired by the value I believed would come from the unique chance of working amongst those with careers already established.  Having the chance to crossover into different disciplines within the construction industry allows me to experience the various roles of my mentors first hand, as well as collectively as part of a team and establish a much broader view on career routes available to me.

Tan Lam, senior architect, Hong Kong

Why the construction industry?
The construction industry is extremely fulfilling to work in, especially when it allows me to share my experiences with those just beginning their careers.  Being an architect has made me much more self aware socially and professionally of the regulations which impact directly on the built environment.

What could be done to make working in the built environment more inspiring to women?
I think it’s incredibly important to keep an equal balance of female participation in senior management in the building industry, but also to provide support for both male and female in the form of flexible working which benefits both parties.

Do you have a personal role model?
Yes, there are a number of people who have stood out in my career.  They are masters such as le Corbusier, Ando Tadao, Toyo Ito, as well as my first boss and current co workers.

What advice would you give to any young woman who is about to start a career in architecture?
Be passionate on being yourself and inquisitive about the environment around you.  Remember to trust yourself and your creativity but be critical enough to voice your opinion.  And perhaps the most difficult, be persistent and patient.

Mary McBryan, project coodinator, Glasgow

Why the construction industry?
After a childhood spent building with Lego and designing houses on graph paper, I knew from an early age I wanted to be an architect.  It seemed the ideal career direction, given my love of art, design and mathematics.

What could be done to make working in the built environment more inspiring to women?
Many women (and men) are looking to maintain a balance of career and family life and there are many ways to achieve this – flexible working hours, work from home and gender neutral benefits / policies.

What’s the best thing about working for Ryder?
Being a part of a greater network.  You’re never at a loss for support, be it from your team, your office, those who share the same role or even those in the company whom you’ve never met.  I love seeing how so many people can work together with the common goal of creating a better environment for the world around us.

What advice would you give to any young woman who is about to start a career in architecture?
I would give the same advice to any young woman or man - work hard, maintain your passions and don’t underestimate the importance of each person you meet and relationship you create.  Creating beautiful architecture that makes a difference to people’s lives is a team effort.

Sarah O'Connor, associate, Newcastle

Why the construction industry?
I’ve always had a passion for architecture and the built environment, playing a part in shaping that environment is a very rewarding process.

The role we have in terms of working alongside clients to develop a brief and realise the design whilst collaborating with so many other disciplines is an incredibly rich and engaging environment.  No two days are ever the same!

What’s the best thing about working for Ryder?
The people! Working alongside such great people makes coming to work so enjoyable.

Annelise Tvergaard, design strategist, Newcastle

Why the construction industry?
Ever since I was little, I’ve been amazed by watching construction projects rise out of the ground and become places where people live or work.  We are all affected by the built environment, whether we are aware of it or not, and there aren’t many industries where you can positively affect quite so many people.

Do you have a personal role model?
Zaha Hadid may have divided opinion but I feel her death was a real loss to the industry.  Not just the creativity she had left to give but as a strong female figure in the construction industry.

Proudest career achievement?
I always feel proud and happy whenever I see people move into their new offices after an office move or refurbishment.  They are excited to explore their new ‘home’ and feel revitalised and valued.  It’s not always an easy journey but it’s worth it.

What’s the best thing about working for Ryder?
One of the things that has struck me, working at Ryder, is how thoughtful and considered the design process is.  People are very passionate and open to new points of view, which creates a very stimulating workplace.

Elly Williams, associate, London

Why the construction industry?
For me, it’s a perfect opportunity to use a wide range of skills every day.  I originally decided on architecture because it was a mix of craft and science; visual and mathematical; emotional and analytical.  It meant I didn’t have to pick one thing to be.  You can add historical and technological to that list, although I didn’t realise that until later.

What could be done to make working in the built environment more inspiring to women?
There some terrifying statistics – attitudes and treatment in the workplace, lack of women reaching senior levels, pay parity, work life integration – and you really don’t have to look that hard for the numbers.  Our efforts would be better spent making the industry a better place for the women already working it – calling out the archaic attitudes that still exist and being honest about where we could be doing things better.

Do you have a personal role model?
Not consciously ... I can't say I've ever looked at one person and thought "that's who I want to be".  I do try and take inspiration and encouragement from as many people and places as I can, but nobody's perfect, so you have to be realistic about it.

Proudest career achievement?
I’m not sure I have one – I like to celebrate the wins as they happen and move on.  Enjoy the moment, but always ask how you can do better next time.

What would you tell your younger self?
Panic less.