Megan Robinson is a technical co-ordinator at Barratt Developments, the nation’s largest housebuilder, and is also co-founder of Built by Both – a campaign to inspire young women to embark on careers in the built environment alongside their male counterparts. Based on a large-scale construction site, Megan works in the Technical Department and is responsible for managing design and delivery across a multi-million pound project in central London. Working with Built by Both and other accredited organisations, Megan aims to promote diverse workforces with a positive image for the construction industry and housing sector.
“…Millennial men are definitely more in tune with gender parity in the workplace, however they are not the only ones. More and more men across the industry are showing their support for gender equality and this has been evident to me in multiple ways…”
From LEGO to London
Construction has always been something that interested me from an early age – from my obsession with LEGO as a young girl to working on busy sites today, the passion has always been there. I have real awe for how the built environment influences how people use spaces and build communities.
I started the road to my career in the construction industry by graduating from Loughborough’s School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering after studying architectural engineering and design management. During my education and industrial placement, I gained experience in both residential and commercial project management and decided to venture into development after joining Barratt London on their graduate ASPIRE programme.
I graduated from the programme and was promoted to a technical co-ordinator on a multi-million-pound construction project in central London, which I am working on currently (Nine Elms Point).
Keeping me on my toes and learning something new every single day
My role can differ day-to-day, which is something I love about my job as it keeps me on my toes. I work in the Technical Department which is the only department which truly allows you to get involved in all aspects of a project from design and engineering to planning and cost management. Day-to-day my responsibilities are primarily to maintain an overview of the architectural and structural design to ensure technical compliance with building regulations through to delivery.
One of the reasons I chose to transfer from Bristol to London was because this meant I could be based on site, seeing the daily physical progression of our designs being built first hand and ensuring continuous communication between the design and delivery teams. Due to this I learn something new or develop my professional and personable skills every day. Seeing young professionals, new families and mature residents all making use of the schemes I have played a role in providing is wonderful. It is great to see people making memories in the buildings I once saw in 2D or in CAD [computer aided design].
STEAM powered creativity
STEAM roles are vitally important and it is wonderful to also see that the ‘arts’ are being recognised as important to our industry and employers. Creativity is one of the most important personality traits to succeeding in your career in my opinion, so I am very supportive of pushing these roles in schools and universities.
Moving forward however, I also believe that there is a growing emphasis on the communication and performance gap between design and delivery. This is something I deal with every day, but believe there is much more room for improvement across many industries and sectors, whether that be construction, mechanical or industrial design.
Any sector which requires the end product to start with a design process and then go through an element of manufacturing should enlist in people whose jobs are to close that gap of error. This is easy to eradicate when the function is done robotically such as car manufacturing, however buildings are built by people and therefore there are opportunities for human error which can lead to delays, cost implications and quality irregularities.
Managing the relationship between design and delivery – a hidden opportunity
My degree trained me to be knowledgeable in all fields vital to managing a large-scale project and because of that I now feel confident to manage the relationship between design and delivery. So, for me, the next big thing is to promote well-rounded and creative individuals who can bridge the gap between design and delivery.
This is also a hidden opportunity for young people coming into our industry who do not want to specialise in one discipline, but actually have a passion for multiple – like me with architecture and engineering.
Co-founding Built By Both
Built by Both is a campaign that was set up by myself and two other colleagues to inspire young women to embark on careers in the built environment. Since our launch in the summer of 2016 we have expanded our team and we can now boast a 50/50 male and female team (unlike many other organisations in the diversity space) and we have been highlighting the lucrative career opportunities the industry has to offer.
We’ve done this by hosting networking events for young people to meet inspirational role models and also holding workshop days for students to experience a working day in construction, whilst learning key personal skills to help them during job interviews and assessment centres.
The reaction to Built by Both has been spectacular! Ever since we launched we have been met with more and more people who want to be involved in some way, whether that be universities who want to work with us or even other accredited societies who want to do collaborative events.
We have a great following on social media as well as loyal supporters who always attend and promote our events. It is lovely to see people come together for something my co-founders and I care so much about, so we can only thank everyone for their support and positivity! We have also been lucky enough to have the support of Barratt Developments, who are now incorporating elements of the initiative into a diversity and inclusion campaign within the company.
The importance of #HeForShe in getting to 50/50
Millennial men are definitely more in tune with gender parity in the workplace, however they are not the only ones. More and more men across the industry are showing their support for gender equality and this has been evident to me in multiple ways. I have witnessed women being promoted to high authority and high paying roles and also seen 50/50 men and women attend our Built by Both events.
It is these steps, taken one by one, no matter how small, which show the unanimous understanding that gender parity is needed. Millennial men have had the luxury of seeing more women go to university, more women in powerful jobs and more women breaking the stereotypical gender barriers. Therefore, it needs to be the objective of the masses to make gender parity the norm within our industry and let women be held in high regard, not only for being female in a male dominated sector, but also for being great at what they do!
Next for Built By Both
The next step for Built by Both is to focus now on promoting an inclusive culture across the built environment. I will be representing Built By Both this year at the London Build’s Women in Construction morning and we already have plans for many more events in the New Year, both on our own and as collaborations.
Due to students who we helped to find jobs and work experience over the last 18 months getting back in touch, in 2018 we are hoping to show thanks with a reunion event with our loyal supporters and Built By Both ambassadors. It is so important to work together to achieve our main goal of gender parity and the acceptance of diverse workforces, so please make sure you keep a look out for Built by Both and our future events. We look forward to meeting you!