Rhianydd Jenkins is a development coordinator for RCT Homes Ltd, which became Wales’ largest social landlord when it took over the ownership and management of the entire stock of nearly 11,000 homes from Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council in 2007. Prior to this she was a development surveyor for Newydd Housing Association. Rhianydd is a working mum and is also a school governor.
“…There are lots of contractors who will take on work experience placements. Drop them an email go and try it even if it’s for a day…”
Rhianydd, please can you tell us about your career to date and what got you interested in property and surveying?
It was strange actually as I started working for a housing association as their receptionist when my daughter was 11 weeks old. It was a part time job, close to home that suited my mummy duties.
I was lucky enough to be seconded to the development team and work with three great guys who really inspired me to build a career in the construction sector. They fully supported me to gain hands on experience as well as professional qualifications that have quite frankly enabled me to do the job I love doing today.
Not only are they all really successful individuals within the industry but they are three genuinely lovely guys who I think the absolute world of! And that’s where it all started – I got the construction bug and I’ve never looked back. I’ve put a conscious effort into networking and building my contact base over the last few years, and it’s something I’d wholeheartedly recommend as its created great opportunities for me.
What are your the responsibilities in your role?
My role is to oversee the construction programme from land appraisal stage right through to practical completion of build. The job involves managing large teams and really co-ordinating the whole development process – it’s challenging but highly rewarding. There could be a variety of projects ranging in value, tenure and complexity, so every day is different – one day I could be dealing with planning matters the next rigger boots and hard hat on and be arguing with contractors!
What is the split like of male and female in your area of work and how is this changing, if at all?
I’ve seen a small but noticeable change over the past couple of years, with more women sitting on project teams on both client and contractor sides. However in my experience the roles women are completing are the more community engagement roles rather than construction specific roles such as engineers or architects.
Obviously there are some amazing ladies out there working as engineers and architects, I’ve just not been lucky enough to have them work on any projects with me!
On all projects I manage we place a huge emphasis on engaging with schools, making sure girls and their parents are aware of the potentially amazing careers they could have in construction.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome in pursuing your professional dreams?
It’s tough working in a very male dominated environment, it’s turned me into a very determined and resilient person. The toughest part is undoubtedly having that feeling that I need to prove myself to others, showing that I’m capable and have the ability to do my job. This overwhelming need to ensure my male counterparts treat me as equal, yet also see me as competition to them has driven me to ensure I am always delivering the very best projects – nothing else will do.
Of course being a busy wife and mum adds challenges to any working woman’s life! Because of my ‘control freak’ approach to my work, there are times that I’m riddled with ‘mummy guilt’, and I can’t always be there to see my children because of work commitments. I’m very lucky to have a very supportive husband to share the load with, but it’s still a big challenge.
What advice would you give you girls and women who are interested in property and construction related roles, and which are the best organisations to approach for help?
There are lots of contractors who will take on work experience placements. Drop them an email go and try it even if it’s for a day.
How did you become a governor and how have you been able to apply these skills in your job?
I’d been considering it for a while, but another commitment wasn’t ideal for me – I was busy enough. But I was curious to understand the logic behind certain decisions being made by the school, and I thought well instead of moaning about it maybe I should help shape the decisions made. And so it began … evenings in the staff room drinking Kenco.
It’s been great for me as I sit on finance, health and safety, HR and facilities boards so relatively linked to my day job. The biggest learning that I take away from being a governor is how to run a business, managing budgets making tough choices is all part of the role. And as it happens these are critical skills for my day job, which is rather helpful!
What is next for you?
It’s a really exciting time within the sector as a whole but also within RCT Homes as we are just embarking on a large programme of construction works! So a busy couple of years ahead. I’m also just starting a Construction Futures Wales course, building on my leadership and management skills, which I’m really looking forward to.
In the long term I’d love to set up my own consultancy business, something that will enable my husband and I to maybe live and work abroad in the future.