What does your job entail?
I’m in charge of HR and health & safety across the group, which spans 7 countries. I oversee everything to do with the internal fabric of the organisation from my base at our York headquarters. I support the business in resourcing, recruiting, on-boarding and developing the right people to support our growth. I also look after employee relations (including union relations), reward and learning and development planning.
My goal is for this to be a great place to work for our 1750 global employees, providing an outstanding experience for them all. We strive to attract high-calibre employees and then develop and empower them to reach their full potential, so that if at some point they should leave Portakabin they talk positively about their time here.
We’re a 21st Century, state-of-the-art manufacturer and installer of modular buildings. That means we provide schools, hospitals, surgeries, offices and just about every other kind of building you can think of, both for sale and hire. This includes structures for very short-term use, right up to huge permanent projects, such as a new £40-million campus on the River Thames.
How did you get into manufacturing?
I came to this role over eight years ago after working in the utility, consulting and financial services sectors.
What’s unique about manufacturing is that we make something that you can actually see and touch, that ultimately helps people. For example, we provide interim buildings that help shelter people. And of course, we provide service and community support beyond just the fabric of the building so we have a tangible impact.
I was particularly attracted to the different challenges in manufacturing. Looking at how we can keep driving growth and keep our different production facilities going.
Of course we are a for-profit company, but we see giving our customers the very best service possible and the highest quality products on the market as the key to our success.
What challenges have you overcome in your career?
When you work in a head office support function, such as HR, you often find that your value is questioned as you’re sometimes seen as a ‘cost’ to the business. I’ve been fortunate in my career in that I’ve worked in businesses that have seen the value in what I do. At Portakabin in particular, I’ve grown the HR team considerably, so there is clearly a benefit to the business that they recognise and support.
What advice would you have for women thinking of a career in manufacturing?
I personally haven’t experienced any problems with working in manufacturing as a woman.
With any industry that’s male dominated, you should approach your difference as an opportunity to bring something different to the table and make an impact. Any strong leader will recognise that diversity on their team is a positive thing as you’ll bring different experiences, skills and perspectives.
Just make sure you work in an organisation where you feel comfortable and, if you don’t, find a company where the culture is a better fit.
Visit our Women in Manufacturing campaign page to find out more.