Anna Slade, joins the company as an Assistant Quantity Surveyor in the Southwest.
Originally eager to be a contortionist in the circus, Anna carved an entirely new path for herself when a change of circumstances forced her to sit out her first year of university.
Now 25, she has found a passion for quantity surveying and commercial management.
She joins HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd.’s 18-strong commercial team following two and a half years as a Commercial Assistant with the company’s sister organisation, HW Martin (Safety Fencing) Ltd.
Our Marketing and Communications Manager, Joanna Hill, caught up with Anna following her first week with the company.
JH: From Circus School to Quantity Surveyor, that’s quite a change, how did that come about?
AS: It is, isn’t it! Well, I was a competitive dancer and I got 3 A Levels in Dance. I decided I wanted to study with the National Centre for Circus Arts to become a contortionist and ultimately perform with a circus. But shortly after the audition a change of circumstances meant I wouldn’t go to university.
My auntie and sister are my biggest fans and supported my journey, so I intended to return the following year but by then I’d got a job and I was enjoying learning to drive and gaining independence. I didn’t want to give that all up and end up in debt with University fees.
JH: With fees and interest rates of more than £50,000 on average I can certainly see why you’d think twice about going to University. I know I often wonder whether I’d go if I got the chance to do it all again!
Was it this decision that helped you to become a homeowner at the age of just 21-years-old?
AS: Yes! I consider it the biggest personal accomplishment of my life so far.
I’m one of 8 kids, so growing up could be chaotic at times and money was tight. I have always wanted a more settled lifestyle, and to become financially independent as soon as possible, to take the pressure off my mum. We’re a very close-knit family and supporting my mum and younger siblings is a big motivator for me to work hard and be a reliable older sister and daughter.
JH: So, what was it about Quantity Surveying that sparked your interest?
AS: It’s been quite a random progression to be honest! I worked for J Murphy and Sons in the rail construction sector for just over two years. During my time there I had the opportunity to work in several different roles in different areas of responsibility.
I started out as a Document Controller, then worked as a Project Coordinator spending many days away from home on long blockades, then I joined the commercial team as a Commercial Assistant.
I discovered that I really enjoy the journey you get to take as a commercial professional on a project. You’re involved from the very beginning, doing quotes, estimates and tenders. Then you hand it over and let it develop, then it comes back to you at the end so you get to see the final product.
I like to evaluate what made money and what didn’t, how early decisions affected the end result, and that kind of thing.
JH: So, after three years in the rail sector you joined The Martin Group and continued to hone your skills as a Quantity Surveyor?
AS: Yes, unfortunately I was made redundant from Murphy’s, but by that time I’d made some good contacts. One of the directors left the business around the same time and moved to HW Martin (Safety Fencing) Ltd. He invited me to interview for a Commercial Assistant role. I was offered the job and spent just under three-years with the company. I was promoted to Assistant Quantity Surveyor in October 2021.
JH: What attributes do you consider necessary for an individual to be successful in a role like this?
AS: Being open and self-assured. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s ok, but if you’re open, transparent, and authentic right from the start you’re on the right path to make good relationships. Once you’ve got good relationships it all follows on from there in terms of getting the job done, but also enjoying your job.
We spend upwards of eight-hours a day at work so it’s important to get on with the people around you.
JH: What do you bring to your role with us at HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd?
AS: I think I bring a fresh outlook. I’m confident in my own abilities and I’m not afraid to challenge things, especially when I know I can make a positive difference for the business.
I’m quite particular, I like to dig out mistakes and find efficiencies. I’m diligent and, I’d like to think that my colleagues in Safety Fencing would say they’ll miss me for my organisational skills! I’m not afraid of hard work, I pride myself on getting the job done and I like to make myself known amongst the team.
JH: And you’re a Fairness, Inclusion and Respect (FIR) Ambassador as well. What does this mean and how does it fit into your role?
AS: Yes, and I’m so glad I can continue to progress this in the traffic management side of the business.
Being a young woman in the male based construction industry comes with many challenges, I wanted to become an FIR Ambassador and use this platform to challenge behaviours associated around bias and equality. It’s important to me that myself, women in construction and women of the future get to reshape conversations, change the dynamic, have equal opportunities and are treated without discrimination.
For me, being a FIR Ambassador is about being as mindful as possible, and remembering to use inclusive behaviours and language yourself to make others more mindful of their behaviours.
It’s important to be mindful also of how you communicate, especially when challenging things that don’t demonstrate inclusivity. You’re speaking to individuals with different life experiences whose motivation is often their own unconscious bias. It’s important to understand their perspective but be empowered to remind them that they are not powerless to this bias or their past experiences, they can be open minded. But you must do it in a way that inspires them to think differently on their own terms for it to be a sustainable change.
JH: What do you hope to achieve personally and professionally in the future?
AS: I’m relocating. I currently live about 45 minutes from our Tormarton-based depot, but I’ll be moving to a house in Devon to settle down with my partner and our dogs, Ralph and Ruby. I’ll work with the team at the South Brent depot.
Professionally, to be honest it’ll be nice to stay in one place a while and continue to progress my career slowly. I’d like to do some studying to become an Accredited Quantity Surveyor and continue to invest in my future.
JH: And what are you looking forward to the most about your career with HW Martin (Traffic Management) Ltd?
AS: I’m hoping to work with new people who are open to change and new ways of doing things. I’m looking forward to making relationships with new people and contributing to the business in positive ways.