Lynn Way is South West and South Wales Regional Chairman at the NASC (National Access & Scaffolding Confederation). During 2013 she joined the NASC Contracts Committee and she also sits on its Audit Committee and Council. Lynn is Company Secretary and Financial Manager at Chris Sedgeman Scaffolding Limited, where she has worked since 1997.
“…more women need to put themselves forward to become managers or ask to train, and yes, apply for roles that a woman traditionally wouldn’t do!..”
My construction career to date
I first started working for Chris, my brother, primarily to run the office. I was already trained in office procedures and I had knowledge of managing a team in my previous job. Our management team then was Chris and Stephen, my two brothers. Both Chris and Stephen were scaffolding daily and responding to quotes in the evenings, which meant I handled all calls and anything relating to paperwork.
As time went on and the business grew, I trained to take on a variety of roles including: business management (Level 5 and MCMI – Member of the Chartered Management Institute); accounting (MAAT – Member of the AAT); health and safety – NEBOSH; and most recently carrying out Level 3 Education and Teaching and Vocational Qualification Assessments.
For each course I performed different duties within the organisation. I already handled all of the finances including bank reconciliation, funding, grants, tax, debt collection and management accounts.
My role now is more overseeing of these roles instead of actually completing them. I also have clients that are predominantly handled by me. These are our larger clients and I attend meetings with the managers to ensure our clients are happy with our service.
Within the health and safety role I ensure all the safety procedures are enhanced and introduce new procedures within the organisation to help the contracts. This is still an important role for me. I am responsible for all of the company audits. We have external audits regularly and I am the person who would sit with the assessor and ensure that our procedures are followed.
Striving to produce the highest quality
From our management meetings, if it’s decided we are expanding into another field of scaffolding e.g. rail, it would be my responsibility to ensure we have all the procedures in place and that our company is up to the standards that we and our clients expect. Just over a year ago we obtained our ISO 9001 and 14001. Chris has always been a perfectionist and expects the best in everything. I am the same with paperwork and I strive to produce the highest quality for the company.
Most recently we have been looking at expanding into training. I have been trained in this field to ensure the management of the expansion is controlled and reaches our targets. I have been involved with the training of each of our employees from the commencement of their employment when leaving school through to charge hand level.
Flying the flag for construction
It’s very rewarding and I was recognised from the Chartered Management Institute and I was a finalist for the Training Manager of the Year Award. Unfortunately, I didn’t win but I was up against some senior managers in a variety of roles and was the person flying the flag for construction.
Construction means something different to me now than when I first started. The rules have changed and I have had to adapt with that just like everyone else in the industry. I have not regretted my decision – I still enjoy my job and I am grateful for my brothers’ help over the years.
Working in a family business
I have found it encouraging over the years working in the family business. I have come up with ideas for expansion and my brothers always listened, commented and encouraged this. I would not be the person I am today without Chris’s drive for perfection.
We have several family members working for us and years ago they used to say if you are not related you won’t get in, but this is not the case, as we have run out of family members. (I’m joking..!) We call everyone working for us our extended family and we have family values throughout. We have won awards for our commitment to our staff and we do make sure we treat everyone the same. Every year the highlight is our staff party and we invite most of the family to it.
My role at the NASC
With regards to the NASC [National Access & Scaffolding Confederation], I help my regions issues – that can be from members or non-member organisations. This may be on a range of topics such as new guidance that is coming out or issues that need a more of a one to one conversation to bring forward at the NASC Council Committee. Not only members approach me, but also contractors regarding information within my region.
I represent the company on the NASC Trailblazer Committee, Contracts Committee. I am the Regional Chair, with this role I not only chair the Regional Meetings and liaise with the region but I also attend the Council Meetings and Audit Committee. In addition to this I represent the NASC on the PQQ (pre-qualification questionnaire) Committee for Build UK.
Being the only woman in the room
When I chaired my first Regional Meeting I was normally the only female in the room. I attended my first Council Meeting and I was the only woman present. Everyone made me feel very welcome. I covered my regions points and also commented on what was happening within the industry at the time. The Council realised I knew what I was talking about and I gained their respect. I do enjoy attending the meetings.
Joining the NASC Committees has helped me within my role of the business. I hear of contractual items, know of law changes as its happening and I am involved with the decisions on how we are moving forward. I have not felt pressure that being a woman has held me back. In the Regional Meetings now I see women regularly attending and it is increasing in number, which is fantastic.
I frequently get asked about female scaffolders. Unfortunately, I don’t know any. I do know recently two sisters completed their training together but I have not personally met any women scaffolders.
Getting more women into the construction industry either in practical or managerial roles
There are several women working in construction and I know of some who are managing directors and senior managers. I do think it is improving in the industry, but a lot more needs to be done. I think if it’s inviting to an individual then more will join.
I made a point of encouraging some of my admin assistants to attend site meetings. They were women, and were really nervous. That’s what we need to overcome. Everyone around the table was treated equally, but more women need to put themselves forward to become managers or ask to train, and yes, apply for roles that a woman traditionally wouldn’t do!
How organisations like the NASC help make the construction industry more welcoming and accessible to women
I know the NASC is trying to be more welcoming to women. I do think we need more women coming forward in meetings and applying for places on committees. How can you consider anyone if they don’t come forward?
I will help, if I can, anyone who wants to join a committee. On the Contracts Committee I am not the only woman – we have Liz Bridges, who is the tax expert for the NASC and other construction bodies. Liz has been working in the industry for years. We need to promote these individuals more and then others will follow.
Until recently the construction industry was very male dominated but increasingly, significant roles within NASC member businesses are undertaken by women. We very much hope to see the industry become more welcoming and accessible to women.
Mine was the first female appointment as NASC Regional Chair. It is only a matter of time before there are more female appointments to NASC Standing Committee and Regional Chair positions in the NASC, and by extension to roles as NASC Officers and Non Exec Directors. The future appointment of a female NASC President would be a real step in the right direction and will do much to encourage still greater involvement in the scaffolding industry by women.
Coming up next for me and the NASC
I know I will be working on the Committees as I have been doing and at present I am still Regional Chair. I have been attending more meetings for the NASC and have been a person who really does believe in the organisation.