In this blog we speak to Simone Codrington, Asst Sustainability Manager.
Simone Codrington spends her days supporting a large housing and commercial contractor to have a better environmental impact.
Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:
After choosing Environmental Science as a GCSE, then Environmental Studies for A Level, I felt like a degree in Environmental Science would be a perfect start to a career in the environmental and sustainability profession. I then joined Willmott Dixon as a management trainee, which allowed me to get a taste of many different areas of the business before graduating my scheme to become an Assistant Sustainability Manager.
Tell us about a typical day in your career:
Most of my time revolves around supporting project teams, this could be helping them comply with environmental legislation but also offering sustainable solutions for the buildings and during construction. This can involve reviewing the ground, tree and ecology surveys required prior to construction and advising the teams based on the conclusions, or visiting sites and checking their paperwork and doing checks during a walk around. It can also involve helping the business meet our Group sustainable development strategy regarding important issues such as carbon and waste.
What made you choose this career/industry?
I’ve always been very interested in the environment, and after having a really enthusiastic environmental science teacher at school I became more and more passionate about the subject. This led to me pursuing it further in education and choosing the construction industry where I knew I could have a larger role in reducing human impacts on the environment.
What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?
As I learned more about the environment, the more I wanted to do to stop damaging it and I wanted to help those around me with this too. I’ve always been very ambitious and conscientious, but with the growing urgency of environmental issues, I was even more determined to do all I could to assist with reducing the impact of an industry that historically has had a very large impact on resources.
What’s great about being a female in your role?
Females in construction are still quite a rare thing but getting more common every day. I’m not particularly intimidated by being a female in a stereotypically ‘man’s world’, but it is very rewarding when I can surprise people that have been in the industry for much longer than me with my knowledge and understanding to support a team and earn their respect.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
Being recognised for my passion and enthusiasm for driving sustainability in the construction industry with the G4C Young Achiever of the Year award.
Take every opportunity to learn.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?
Take every opportunity to learn and develop. Sometimes I think about how lucky I am to have achieved what I have so far in life, and while I’m so grateful for it all, I have to remind myself that I’ve got to where I am through working hard, by being driven by a passion for something and wanting to achieve. However, I also recognise that the opportunities that I had aren’t always accessible to everyone, so I think it’s important to use all available resources to you in order to get where you want to be. For example, I did as much as I could during school, sixth form and then university in order to reach the next steps in my career path, including volunteering, extra-curricular activities, attending CV workshops and applying for work placements during the holidays.
Have you ever felt that your gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career?
On the whole, no. However, it can sometimes be difficult to get respect from those that have been in the construction industry a while, often males. Having a young, enthusiastic female come along and tell them to change the way they’ve always done things can irritate a few of them, but this is a challenge I expected and was prepared to deal with.
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
- Give something back
- Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to shout about your achievements
- Know your own strengths and use them
What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given?
Always do your research!
Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance?
Not enough businesses. Some businesses are doing great things to address gender imbalance, with increased research into male/female psychology, which can help ensure recruitment is more inclusive and the correct candidate is chosen. Willmott Dixon are doing a lot in terms of addressing gender imbalance from a younger age, for example we promote construction careers at all-girls schools to show them that there are all kinds of careers available for them in the construction industry. But there are many businesses that still have a lot more to do to address gender equality.
You don’t have to know all of the answers to be a great leader
What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?
You don’t have to know all of the answers to be a great leader, you just have to know where you can find them. During my final year on the management trainee scheme I was asked to lead a small project in a local community, which really showed me how true this is and the importance of having a great team around you. I didn’t have the answers a lot of the time, but I knew who I could speak to in and around the business to get the answers.
Thank you Simone! If you have enjoyed this blog, then please read more here!