We’re celebrating the many female members of our team here at Howard Civil Engineering today, but we caught up with our Assistant Estimator, Sophie Henderson, and Accounts Assistant, Sarah Callaghan, to discuss the various routes into the construction industry available for women in light of National Apprenticeship Week.
Sophie Henderson joined HCE five years ago at the age of nineteen and has since become a STEM ambassador and a member of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE), supported by HCE. Initially pursuing a career in Health and Safety, Sophie began her journey with HCE on-site, but soon realised this wasn’t the avenue she wanted to pursue: ‘While I gained a lot of experience spending a year on-site, I wasn’t enjoying my education in Health and Safety. I spoke to HCE and they were really supportive in offering me other positions in the business that would be more suitable. A position opened up in Estimating, and I’m much happier in my apprenticeship now.’
‘Although I’ve been given a lot of responsibility from an early age, HCE always take time out to make sure I understand what I’m doing and offer further support where it’s needed,’ she says. ‘HCE are definitely a company who nurture their apprentices whilst also giving them breathing space to learn and grow at their own pace. Compared to my peers at college, I feel like I’ve been offered a lot more opportunities as an apprentice at HCE, and my work experience definitely exceeds that of university graduates.’
Sophie also discussed her commitment to broadening the minds of young girls considering their future career options. Supported by HCE, Sophie trained to become a STEM ambassador and has been invited into secondary schools to chat with pre-GCSE students about their career goals. ‘A lot of girls think working in construction has to be working on-site, getting dirty and doing a lot of hands-on work, when in reality construction has a variety of other areas that girls may not be aware of. I’ve always had really positive feedback from events such as these, and it’s empowering to be enlightening young girls of the options available to them in construction.’
Sophie is a member of WISE (Women in Science and Engineering)
Sarah Callaghan joined HCE eight months ago, and quickly took to her role as a Data Administrator. Sarah demonstrated unmistakeable talent with a hunger to succeed and was promptly promoted to Accounts Assistant. Upon speaking to another member of the Finance team, Sarah was struck with the idea of pursuing a career in accountancy.
‘I left school with no qualifications,’ said Sarah, ‘so the idea of starting an apprenticeship as an adult was a little bit daunting. I asked our Finance Director, Gerard Howard, if HCE would support my decision to start an Accountancy Apprenticeship and was instead offered full funding for my education. I thought I was too old and I that I was past being able to learn – it’s been a really good confidence boost to know that HCE do see potential in me and that they believe in me.’
Sarah is due to start her Accountancy Apprenticeship with Leeds City College in April 2019 and will stay in the course for a minimum of twelve months. Upon completion, Sarah will have earned a Level 2 qualification in Accounting. When asked where she is hoping this apprenticeship will take her, Sarah expressed her desire to continue her journey to become a fully-fledged accountant: ‘It could take me three years to get where I want to be, but hopefully this will propel me to new heights within HCE.’