With both International Women’s Day and National Apprenticeship Week being celebrated today, it’s the perfect time to look at a young woman’s successful career in UK housebuilding.
Emma Foster is planning director of Spitfire Bespoke Homes, an award-winning housebuilder with headquarters in Coleshill, Warwickshire and a portfolio of high-specification homes across the Midlands and beyond.
After studying an undergraduate degree in Geography and Environmental Planning at UCE – now the University of Birmingham – Emma then completed a Masters in Property Development.
Emma says: “I was the first in my family to go to university and my interest in the industry developed from enjoying geography at school, which led me down the path of planning. Alongside my degree, I also gained some valuable work experience at a planning consultancy in the private sector. Following my work experience, I was offered a job there starting as an assistant planner and worked my way up to senior planning level.”
Emma joined Spitfire in 2014. “When the opportunity arose in my career to join Spitfire, I jumped at the chance to head up the planning team,” she says. “I originally joined as planning manager, helping the land teams for the Midlands and Southern sites. Since then, we have expanded massively as a company, and I have been able to grow the team here, including recently taking on a graduate.”
Her senior role means 32-year-old Emma has a lot of responsibility as well as engagement with a wide variety of contacts within and outside of Spitfire: “Engaging with local planning authorities, members of the public, key stakeholders and on-site teams is a huge part of my job. A lot of the time, it involves educating a range of people on our brand, company ethos and ultimately, what we always strive to achieve. In the planning team, we look at a range of new and upcoming sites as well as assisting on live sites, which we see all the way through from start to finish. I love being able to witness a project come to life and the nature of Spitfire’s product makes me really proud.”
With women across the UK housebuilding industry severely outnumbered by men, does Emma think more of them should consider the sector for their career ambitions? She says: “I would definitely recommend a career in the housebuilding industry to younger girls. The construction environment is predominantly male; however, I have definitely noticed more females branching into different roles within the industry. I personally work with Women in Property, a networking group involving women at various stages in their career, including many young female professionals which is excellent to see. Ultimately, communication is key and everyone at Spitfire works together to strive towards the same end goal.”
Come to listen and talk about housebuilding careers – apprenticeship, diversity, training and leadership – at our New Homes Debate in London on Thursday 15 March 2018.