On 8 March, the world comes together for International Women’s Day. To coincide with this, we spoke with Sharon Slinger, Senior Project Quantity Surveyor at Carillion and Co-Chair of the Carillion LGBT Network.
What attracted you to the property industry?
When I was at school I was trying to decide which university course I might want to do, so I did a careers questionnaire. The top answer was Quantity Surveying (which I’d never heard of). I looked into it, thought I might like the mix of office based-maths with going out onto site. I did a week’s work experience with a QS company, and the rest is history.
What is a working day like for you?
Varied! Some days I am out visiting clients around the country, other days in the office, and also work from home regularly, every week is different. I am commercially responsible for the projects of a number of our corporate FM accounts. It’s a very fast paced environment, some of our projects are priced, secured and delivered within a couple of months. At any point in the day I could be adjudicating tender proposals, reviewing subcontract orders, cost reporting, engaging with the client, solving problems, and reviewing staff allocations.
What has been a career highlight so far?
I have a couple. Firstly having the opportunity to work in Australia for a couple of years. The contractor I worked for at the time have their head office in Sydney so I took the opportunity to go and work for them in a cost planning role. It was great to experience a different role, and a different culture, and I would recommend people do it if they get the opportunity.
My other is founding the Carillion LGBT network, Connect, which is one of my proudest career moments.
What has your experience been like as Co-Chair of the Carillion LGBT Network?
Loved every minute. From conception in October 2015 to launch in February 2016, and a really successful first year. We have a really committed steering group, and the full backing of our senior leadership, and have managed to make a difference to LGBT colleagues already. When people say they now have the strength to be themselves at work, you know that you have had an impact.
We have also linked in with the Construction LGBT Working group, #BuildingEquality and attended London Pride and the Student UK pride careers fair as an industry group working together to tackle homophobia in the industry. From the success of this group, we have founded an FM Services Network of Networks, to collaborate on initiatives specific to facilities management services with our industry peers. We believe working together is the best way to improve the diversity and inclusion within our industries.
Have you come across any barriers as a woman in the industry?
There is a clear lack of women in the construction industry, but it is improving. It has taken the strength and perseverance of a number of women to tackle those barriers and gradually they are being broken down. We now have a number of great female role models, for example our president Amanda Clack, which give new starters a clear vision of what they can achieve.
There are still barriers in the industry, for example women being excluded from social events where relationships are formed and unconscious bias where people hire and promote people like themselves. I know many companies are becoming more active in tackling this, the future does look brighter, but culture change doesn’t happen overnight.
What advice do you have for women considering a role in surveying?
Do it. It’s a great career, so much variety on a day to day basis, so many interesting projects to work on, and so many wonderful people and teams to work with. It won’t be an easy ride, but with determination there is a real opportunity to succeed. Oh and the pay isn’t bad either.