‘People go out of their way to make me feel welcome as a woman in construction’

Puja Bhardwaj

Puja Bhardwaj, Site Manager, BAM Construct UK

At school, I had no idea what career I wanted to go into. I did a placement in a civil engineering firm where I found my passion for the practical side of being out on site. I went on to study construction management at Salford University. Now I visit schools to speak to children about the opportunities in construction and to inspire young women – for me, it’s been a very fulfilling career so far.

A more attractive industry for all

The construction industry has always been very traditional. The culture suggests you need to be first on site and last to leave to get on in your career. And the perception is that while you’re on site, you’ll be having to endure dark, dank, uncomfortable cabins. We need to change these perceptions because this is not what I experience.

In a competitive job market, we aim to have the kind of sites that both men and women want to work on and we hope to offer a lifestyle that allows everyone to work around family and other commitments.

I helped to set up the London Health & Safety Forum, and am currently part of a group which is looking into improving the wellbeing of site-based colleagues. Our site cabins are now fully insulated, double-glazed and climate controlled and we’re looking to go a step further by introducing recreational activities for everyone to enjoy some downtime together too. We want our site to be the site you want to be on.

Hot desks make it easier for us to work from anywhere, helping to reduce commuting time and helping us to get more done. As we continue to move to cloud-based technology, working from any location will become the norm.

Women in leadership roles

The industry has come a long way – but there’s still a way to go. One thing that will ultimately attract young women into construction is seeing role models they can identify with in senior positions. This is where I see myself one day and I hope I can inspire the next generation to follow in my footsteps!

People have only ever gone out of their way to make me feel welcome as a woman in construction.