I took a very non-conventional route into construction. I wanted to come into this career field, but society said, ‘no, it’s not for you’. Initially, I didn’t have any career in mind other than the one I thought I should have as an Asian female – a lawyer, accountant, or dentist.
Growing up, my Dad used to bring home A1 drawings, and we’d grab the pens and help him do takeoffs – the way you traditionally measure materials on-site. That was my basic foundation of what construction was. But I followed what was expected of me, and took up my place at Brunel University to study Accounting & Finance. After two weeks, I felt like a clone. I got a call from my dad and he said I could join the family business. So I battled society, did an HNC in construction and a degree part-time.
As it’s a small, family business, I have to be an all-rounder. I specialise in quantity surveying, health and safety, and sustainability and also help out with project management and accounts. I love going on-site to see our projects emerge; that’s my main motivation. And I love working with my brother. I think we strive more as a family. We help each other out.
The industry is evolving. There are so many exciting new opportunities emerging, especially with the use of technology. I want to help educate people to know what construction’s really about. It’s about professional, skilled careers, and a sector in which you can make your own choices about what you want to do. It’s so much more than you see on building sites on the train home.
At first, my wider family just thought I’d failed university and had to work for Dad’s firm. We’ll walk past one of our projects on the high street and see them evolve. Now they understand that it’s more than pieces of paper and drawings. It’s about building environments, schools, hospitals and whole communities. Collaboration and integration – everyone on a project is working to one end goal and in one direction.
Work means more than a day job. It’s fending for my family, for me and my future. The beautiful thing about construction is that a lot of people start their own business, which becomes a family firm, passed down to generation after generation.
Our society is constructed out of conventional roles. I’m determined to change perceptions. We think people should fit in somewhere because of their exterior, but you should do something driven by your interior.
If you want to work in construction, be persistent. Let your guard down, and don’t give up. You can still believe in your tradition and your culture, in fact, I’ve gone back to my heritage more by challenging my belief systems. You don’t have to try and fit into a mould. The industry needs different people and diverse role models. We need more people to come forward and bring their ideas forward, too.
I live in the moment. I want to continue working in my family business and see where that takes me. I want people to see they have a place here. Construction is open. It’s a place you can be taken seriously. So, find out the truth, don’t believe the myths. I’m proud to be paving the way for change.
Funded through the investment of the CITB levy.