Tell us about your career to date. Your dissertation has been something of a springboard for you.
My entry into construction has been far from conventional. I started studying business with accounting but two weeks into my course I felt lost and unhappy. I took the plunge to join the family firm – Avi Contracts Ltd – and I haven’t looked back. I have grown at the firm from a trainee surveyor to project surveyor, most recently working on the prestigious Russell Hotel.
I graduated from the University of Westminster last summer and took with me the wise words from my tutor Rob Garvey: “Write a dissertation that will go beyond the walls of this University.”
My dissertation research on the skills shortage and the perception that the Y-generation hold of construction opened the initial doors for me to make a real change in this industry.
Using the dissertation as a platform I have spoken at numerous events in association with the CIOB London Hub, Willmott Dixon, London BIM Region and Newable, continually sharing my research findings and experiences as an Asian female in construction.
“If I’ve felt this accomplished in under a year, I’m excited to see what further change I can bring to bear on this industry.”
I am the 2018 Construction Prize recipient from the Worshipful Company of Constructors and have been sworn in as a Yeoman.
I have been named as one of this year’s UK Construction Week Role Models, been photographed for the Image of Women in Construction project run by NAWIC and will soon be becoming an Ambassador for the London Build Expo.
You’re building on your dissertation with more research. Tell us more.
I have carried out an extension of my initial survey to understand student perspectives on construction. With a population of over 100 students I have gauged a comparison to see if change has begun to take place as a result of industry efforts to promote construction.
I hope this research will shed more light on the low Black Asian and Minority Ethnics (BAMEs) participation, currently standing at 5.7% – in comparison to females who represent 13%.
I hope this research will enable the industry to have a clearer insight into what the Y-generation actually perceive the industry to be like and have a clearer understanding of the root problems.
What are your ambitions?
My passion lies within promoting the construction industry positively and ensuring that the truth is conveyed to the public instead of myths about our industry.
Perceptions from home influence the youth and in some cases the pressure from parents wanting their children to be in a stereotypical career has steered many away from industries like ours. This has driven me to raise awareness of the numerous opportunities within construction to inspire the next generation.
My goal is to try break traditional mindsets of these parents by visually representing BAMEs, females and the youth. These are three tick boxes that I represent, currently neglected but can help reduce the skills gap. There is a clear need for a voice and I want to be just that, asking for the change.
Less than a year since I did my first presentation the support I have received from the industry to help me continue raising the platform of awareness has been immense. If I’ve felt this accomplished in under a year, I’m excited to see what further change I can bring to bear on this industry.
What more can the industry be doing to address diversity issues?
We have come a long way but we have started preaching to ourselves rather than the public who are the real audience who need to be educated on our industry.
We need to be more active with the youth and have national awareness projects where schools are given material to promote construction honestly.