What is your current Job Title or Role?
Director | Chartered Architectural Technologist
What advice would you have for young women who are interested in a STEM career or job?
Don't ever be put off doing something that you want to do - whether that is in science, technology, engineering or maths. There are so many very different opportunities within each of the areas that you should engage with those around you to find out which element you'd like to proceed with. You may find that you swap between each topic as you delve deeper into the subject but there is nothing wrong with this.
How did you get to where you are today?
Back in 1988 I wasn’t even aware that architectural technologists or technicians existed. I had just discovered that I had a real love for technical drawing and I wanted to see if there were careers out there that enabled me to draw for a living. All through my early years I was inspired by my dad who also loved technical drawing but only as a hobby. I had originally planned to follow him into the Navy as a draughtsperson but the entry qualifications were out of my reach as I wasn’t a natural academic. I mentioned this passion to my careers advisor at school and they suggested I apply for the BTEC OND in Building Studies at Plymouth College. This gave a good grounding to the construction industry at that time (although it has changed significantly over the past 25 years or so!. Passing this course gave me the gateway to joining The Company of Designers in Plymouth as a Junior Graduate Technician. The Company of Designers later became LHC Design following a management buyout and I am still there today. Over almost 3 decades of working at LHC Design (in Plymouth, Exeter and also now in Cornwall) I have been helped, supported and mentored by some fantastic colleagues. The opportunities provided (and taken) enabled me to gain experience and become an invaluable member of the team. Having thrown myself into my work I found that I was developing a strong reputation in the business. I was being asked to work on numerous high profile and award winning projects which meant being given an insight into a different part of the architectural world. My enthusiasm and ability saw me promoted through the business and made director in 2008. During this time I have continued to develop and deliver projects for our many clients. On a personal level and much more recently my own goal was recognised when in June 2018 I was made a shareholder. I could not have been happier to have been provided an opportunity to continue shaping and developing the business over the next 20 years!
What do you do on a daily basis in your work?
I trained to become a technologist where detailing, drawings and design would come first. I still try and retain this ethos and am very hands-on with project work albeit in a different capacity. I predominantly now undertake technical reviews on work completed by others and a ‘red pen’ is never far away for checking work! However, I do keep my hand in with CAD work and have also received training on Revit to move myself into the BIM era. Our clients appreciate this experience and in particular the input that I have on projects so we ensure that, as Directors, we all take on Project responsibilities. Becoming a Director for LHC Design has given me a far broader understanding of the architectural business and our market sectors. Although I do miss spending all my time on the ‘drawing board’ (or PC as it is now!) it does mean that no two days are the same.
Who or what inspired you to get into STEM?
Other than my dad when I started my career I haven't tended to have a specific role model but I do have a lot of respect for strong people who are able to control situations, engage with others and develop an understanding with those around them. Being able to listen to those around you and respect others decisions is key for me and I like to think that this has had an impact on how I live my life. Those kinds of people inspire me to better myself and keep me striving to do something a bit different.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Definitely seeing projects come to fruition whereby clients and customers are moving into their buildings and loving living in them. I do miss being on the tools everyday but also appreciate and enjoy meeting with clients and working through their designs with them.
What do you like to do outside work?
Outside of work, field hockey is my passion. Having played the sport for 35 years I have now had to 'hang up the stick' but continue to be involved through umpiring. I am also Chair for Cornwall Hockey Association and have taken numerous committee positions at Club level where I am currently secretary for Caradon Hockey Club based in Liskeard. I also enjoy cycling and walking - both of which have meant raising money for various charities whilst undertaking ridiculous challenges!