Anna Etherington-Smith, our Head of Project Management, has shared some of her thoughts with the Women in Construction website about the importance of building a diverse project team and and the value of allowing individuals to work to their strengths. Read on for an extract, or view the full article.

Projects are human endeavours, and what is more, every project and every project team is unique. The range of skills, both technical and behavioural, required to successfully deliver a construction project are extensive, and a good project leader should have an appreciation of the diverse set of skills needed when they are building their team, and an awareness of how different people operate. 

On joining the industry straight out of university, I quickly became accustomed to being in the minority as a woman. In the early stage of my career I tried to emulate the behaviours of other women around me – those who appeared to embrace the sometimes confrontational nature of the industry as a way to progress. I quickly learnt that this approach simply didn’t suit me, and I began to understand that it was important for me to be my authentic self in the workplace in order to thrive. Shouting the odds and trying to demand respect wasn’t for me.

Having now spent over 15 years working in construction – as a structural engineer, construction manager and now as Head of Project Management at Clarkson Alliance – I have worked on a range of projects and have seen the value in allowing individuals to work to their strengths. For example, one person may be good at detailed analysis but less good at communication – this individual may thrive when considering options and developing solutions but struggle in a large meeting environment or when asked to present to the wider team.

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