The industry isn’t as male-dominated any more
I first realised my passion for heritage assets after joining a national built asset consultancy. I’ve always had an interest in buildings, but what I loved about heritage assets was the design work, and the challenge of making things work within the confines and restrictions of some incredible structures.
During my time at the consultancy, I was seconded to the National Trust’s office. For me, a huge appeal of the Trust was the variety of the portfolios and the assets it owns and when the opportunity came up, I joined as a Building Surveyor in the East Midlands region.
In terms of my favourite property at the Trust, it will always be Belton House, as it was part of the portfolio in my first role. My favourite project would definitely be the Ride Development in 2012, which included the Trust’s first indoor play area. This was a really challenging project with a lot of components, and I’d decided to do the majority of the design and specification myself alongside all the contract administration and project management! But at the same time, it was an ideal opportunity to gain lots of experience and really push myself on a project.
More recently, I’ve enjoyed being involved in the Renewable Energy Investment Programme. It’s been really interesting to learn about renewables, and knowing my projects are contributing to the 2020 Grow Your Own targets is incredibly rewarding.
I’ve always looked forward to coming into work, and would have to say the best parts of my job are definitely the variety and challenges that our properties offer. And working at the Trust feels like a constant learning curve due to how unique our buildings are.
There’s also a fantastic range of in-house expertise and knowledge available from specialists across the Trust. I’ve learnt so much from my colleagues, and it’s really important to take advantage of all the knowledge that you can. For example, my old colleagues from the Midlands still get a call every now and then for help!
Regardless of whether you’re female or male, confidence is so important in this industry. But equally you need to be able to admit when you don’t understand something. I’ve also found it really useful to gain some practical experience like knowing how to plaster or tile; that way you can have a more constructive conversation with a contractor and really understand the challenges they face.