Pathway into Construction: Stacey Turner

Stacey Turner is one of GKR’s Contracts Supervisors. Not many people are aware of what the job entails. As a new member of GKR, I was keen to learn more about her job and how she discovered that the construction industry was right for her. I was able to get some great insights into the hectic life of a Contracts Supervisor. As well as being able to discuss her somewhat unconventional route into the industry.

After being on the tools, Stacey decided to come into a more management based role. Since then she has worked on various high-profile projects. In fact, one of Stacey’s first projects was the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium! In her few years here at GKR, Stacey has been able to adopt a successful management technique. She has a great mutual respect and rapport with everyone on site and in the office.

Whilst with Stacey, I had the opportunity to speak with her in detail about her role. We spoke candidly about her role at GKR, the challenges she faces, as well as how the industry has evolved since she began.

How did you get into the construction industry?

“I fell into construction; I was personal trainer before and enjoyed being physically active. One of my friends was a scaffolder and would always tell me ‘I bet you couldn’t do it’. I began working for him on a Saturday to prove him wrong, after he said he thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. It was only meant to be for 6 months, however, 7 years later I am still in the industry!

I soon began to really enjoy the job. I liked the fact that I knew how much money was coming in. I didn’t have to work weekends if I didn’t want to and I had a much better work life balance. The working environment was really friendly, and I really enjoyed the banter.”

How did you become a contracts supervisor?

“I made the transition from being on the tools around 2 and a half years ago. I wanted to remain in the industry as I enjoyed it so much. I was lucky to be able to make the transition that I did. 10 years ago, that move wouldn’t have been possible. I wouldn’t have the same respect or the relationship with the boys that either.”

Do you feel that the industry still needs to evolve?

“Of course! Whilst I look back at how much has changed since I began scaffolding, I still feel that there is a long way to go. Having said that, I believe the industry has come on leaps and bounds and I am lucky enough to be in my position because of this. I appreciate the need for diversity in our industry. However, I do not want to be viewed as a ‘woman scaffolder’ or ‘woman contracts supervisor’. My ability is not defined by my gender.”

What is your day to day life like as a contracts manager?

“There is always something to do! We are responsible for organising labour, making sure everyone is on time and where they are meant to be and then we must brief everyone, set them targets and deliver toolbox talks. Throughout the day we must make sure everyone is working safely and wearing the correct PPE. We also complete mangers scaffold inspections. Whilst on site we also attend meetings and progress meetings with clients.

We meet with clients and price new works. There is also the logistical side of the job, planning delivery and clears to jobs as well as planning labour and lorries for the week. There are also other bits of work to do like pricing AWI sheets, responding to emails and updating valuations for each job.”

Your job is extremely demanding, what would you say are the biggest challenges you face day to day?

“The biggest challenge is juggling the demands of all the projects. You need stay in control. I have learnt a lot about time management and how to cope if something suddenly crops up unexpectedly. Managing labour can be the biggest struggle. You must make sure that there is enough labour on each of your projects. You may plan everything, but if the client’s demand changes it can mean that you have to reorganise everything.”

“When I first started, I needed to build a good relationship with everyone, especially on site. There are still a few people who are more reluctant to accept my position, but I have just learnt how to approach and manage them. The challenges of my role change from week to week.”

How do you find balancing your time on site and in the office?

“Balancing time in the office and being on site can be difficult, it is crucial to be on site to develop relationships and be visible. I work a lot better on site. I feel that I can see for myself what is going on. It can build relationships a lot better and gain respect that I would not otherwise get if I was just dictating to them from an office. I also feel that it is vital to take everyone out for breakfast or for a beer, just to say thank you and that we appreciate their hard work”

One of your first projects was the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, what challenges did you face on such a large-scale project?

“Whilst it was great project to work on there were also a lot of challenges that I came across. Managing everyone, logistics and labour was a struggle. Towards the end of the project we were pressed for time and I learnt a lot from this high-pressure situation. I was glad that I was able to be a part of such an amazing job. The challenges that I came across taught me many skills. That I can use on projects now. It was a very busy project that was 24/7, we had lots of nights and for around 7 months we had 100 men every day! The demands of the job helped my progression a lot and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work on such a monumental project”

How do you feel about how the construction industry is promoted for young people and what advice would you give to people looking to come into the industry?

“Unfortunately, it can often be seen as a ‘last choice’. People aren’t aware of the job progression that is possible, and they don’t really know what the industry is all about. Before I even started, I doubted myself. It is a demanding job, I questioned whether I was physically and mentally strong enough. But I just got out there and did it!

I soon realised that I was just as good as the guys, I got over the mental battle and realised my potential. If you are questioning whether construction is right for you, I’d say just go for it! What have you got to lose? There is so much more behind the scenes that people don’t realise. Just go for it and get stuck in”

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