Women In Construction Week

CAREER SPOTLIGHT: KAREN BERRIDGE, PLANT HIRE CONTROLLER

Joining award winning housebuilder over thirty years ago as a local school leaver, young Karen Berridge would probably not have realised that her first job was the first step in making the construction industry her career. Or that, as time passed she would become not only a senior member of the team, but an important cog in the wheel of a business.

Plant is a small word covering a large and vital function when it comes to housebuilding and where William Davis Homes is concerned it is the department that literally keeps the sites running; supplying, servicing and delivering everything from the largest JCB 16 tonne tracked excavator down to the smallest drill.

Karen’s explains: “I was definitely destined for this role. After my first job as an accounts clerk, I moved into Payroll, which really appealed to me as it gave me more interaction with others. However, due a change in circumstances I was presented with an opportunity to move into the Plant Department, which needed help in administration and because it would be something completely different and an area I knew very little about, I thought why not?”

It was not long before Karen was embracing what has turned out to be a fascinating and at times, challenging role.

Karen says: “Dealing with site managers, plant mechanics and other team members on a daily basis is what I love best. It’s our job to keep things moving, if an essential machine breaks down on site, everything stops and that impacts on production, delivery of new homes, even people’s wages. Understandably, dealing with people under pressure, can present challenges but generally it’s a vibrant, buzzy atmosphere and we do our absolute best to resolve things quickly and efficiently, so the site teams can get on.”

Karen was delighted when she was promoted to Plant Hire Controller in 2007 and says garage manager Paul Tooley, has been instrumental in supporting her developing role in the business.

“From early on I realised it takes time to build trust and instil confidence, especially when there’s a stressful situation, such as a machine breakdown and urgent assistance is required. I worked hard to establish myself as a sound point of contact and always try to be firm but fair when dealing with people. Diplomacy is another skill worth cultivating, that and a good sense of humour.

“The construction industry can be very challenging but it’s a really great business to be in and the more diverse the workforce becomes, bringing together different skills, attitudes and cultures can only be for the good.

“I’ve made many wonderful friends during my career and it’s very rewarding – working in construction is definitely a career for life and that’s something very special these days.”

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