An early passion for construction and teenage dreams of making buildings has come become a reality for Sarah Frith, who loves her role as technical manager for housebuilder Lovell.
To realise her dreams, Sarah read architecture at Cambridge University, then worked for different architectural practices while she continued her studies to qualify as an architect. She then switched to a technical role so that she could be more closely involved in the detail of the construction process.
“Last year I stood on the top of a ten-storey building and thought: this is the best thing I’ve ever done,” she says, 18 months after joining the company as the only woman of four people in her role. Since then, she has seen things change dramatically, playing a big part in recruitment that now sees a 50/50 balance between men and women in her team.
She looks beyond traditional images of what a builder should be and looks for a wide spectrum of qualities for her team, regardless of gender.
She says: “When recruiting for my team, I look for good technical knowledge, strong organisational skills and the ability to work effectively under stress; people must be outstanding communicators and team players too. Gender is irrelevant, but the women I recruited were the best candidates and have since proved extremely effective in their roles.”
Sarah’s role sees her working on three large projects around London from concept through to construction. Her duties range from working on bids, appointing consultants and securing building control approval to the day-to-day management of a team of design co-ordinators , as well as the challenge of on-site troubleshooting.
With figures from the Office for National Statistics showing the current construction industry comprising just 13% female staff, Sarah is delighted that Lovell are bucking that trend and seeing a more diverse and equal workforce.
She adds: “This is a brilliant job for women. You need to be robust, prepared to speak out and thrive in a high-stress environment with tight deadlines. But it’s a truly collaborative role and there’s enormous satisfaction in building homes and making a difference to society.”
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.