International Women’s Day held each year on 8th March celebrates the achievements of women and calls for the acceleration for women’s equality. The 2021 theme is #ChooseToChallenge and the company supports calling out gender bias and inequality. At CTS, we pride ourselves in supporting our female colleagues to be successful, we caught up with Natasha and Sasha to hear about their experiences and to get to know them better.
Natasha Dyer, Quality Assurance Technician
I graduated from Canterbury Christ Church University in 2013 with a Geography Degree. In 2015 I started working as a Soil Technician for a construction company and continued to develop my skills across site testing and laboratory work. I decided to take on some one-year fixed contracts within various industries to continue building my profile and this is where I found my passion for Quality. During this time, I worked for several different industries, including a perfumery, a children’s toys factory and a makeup manufacturer. I wanted to settle in a company where I could continue to develop my skills in the Quality department as well as being able to have a hands-on approach that the construction industry previously gave me, and I began working for CTS in March 2020 as a Quality Assurance Coordinator.
My role requires me to conduct calibrations on operational and laboratory equipment to UKAS ISO17025 standards. I maintain calibrations across our Harrietsham, Billericay, M11, and Crawley sites, encompassing over 3000 pieces of equipment. I help to improve, modernise, and streamline processes and documentation to improve the efficiency of the department and ultimately the business. For example, I implemented a new non-conformance procedure last year which tracks the trends of reoccurring non-conformance data as well as rolling out training and work procedures for all the team. I feel it is important to promote the goals of Quality to everyone, so they understand why a robust Quality system is needed, helping to ensure CTS continues to be the go-to provider for construction testing by maintaining strict UKAS accreditation compliance.
The main challenge I have faced working in the construction industry is the preconceptions many of the men had of me. Many times, I have had the comment “I didn’t know you could do that” if they see me re-wiring an oven or performing a mechanical test. It was also difficult to find clothes that fit me. The work uniform was previously only ordered in men’s sizes and even a small t-shirt can look like a dress on me. Although this is rectified at CTS, other companies who have yet to deal with this should look at the clothing needs of their female colleagues to ensure they fit so that they can work practically and comfortably. I know many women don’t feel confident to speak up and so it is important that the construction industry open their eyes to any prejudices and deal with any issues of equality before it becomes habit.
I look up to and are inspired by women such as Jodie Whittaker, Gal Gadot and Daisy Ridley who are breaking the gender boundaries for women on screen. They have proved that male-dominated franchises can be reinvented by strong, leading women and that woman can be heroes too. By seeing these powerful women take centre stage it creates opportunities for women to feel empowered. Every time a woman plays The Doctor, A Superhero, or The Protagonist that imagine reminds us “Yes.We.Can!”.
Outside of work, and prior to lockdown, I enjoy attending classes at the gym, particularly spin and HIIT. I also enjoy being outdoors and exploring our countryside. Some of my favourite activities have included climbing Mt Snowdon, kayaking on Lake Windermere, and Zip-lining Europe’s longest zipline.
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength” – G.D Anderson, Activist.
Sasha Mahon, Senior Materials Technician
I was born and raised in Hayes, a town in the London Borough of Hillingdon, where I still live now with my family and partner. My mum was originally born in Derby before moving down to Hillingdon to be with my dad, and my grandparents on my dad’s side are from the Caribbean.
I first joined the company when it was CET UK in 2018, and I am currently a Senior Materials Technician working at the Heathrow Laboratory. My role is varied, and I carry out multiple tasks day to day along with supervising the laboratory staff, organising sub-sampling, and signing off of test reports. I also act as Deputy Radiation Protection Supervisor helping to look after the Nuclear Density measurement equipment dealing with radiation paperwork and I am also the site Fire Marshall.
The main challenges I have faced being a woman working in this industry prior to joining CTS was being told that I would not be able to be trained to go out on site and carry out tasks due to the fact I would not be able to cope as I am a woman. I was guided to stay in the office as part of an admin team as I would not have ‘what it takes’ to learn and progress in the industry. However, CTS have nurtured and guided me in multiple directions – helping me to progress within the company. I believe every construction company should take the same outlook as CTS, because women can work across many roles in the construction industry.
The CIOB report that, ‘women in the construction industry account for under 10% of the workforce in the UK, reflecting their under-representation in an industry that fails to attract and retain women.’ However, CTS provides equal opportunities for both men and women to work within the different areas across the business. Whether that’s working out on site, in the laboratory or in the office. CTS offer so many rewards and benefits of working within the construction industry, there is plenty of room for career progression and skill development as a woman, with initiatives such as the COFE Club (Creating Opportunities for Excellence) which is designed to support and empower women across our business. I will be looking to progress further within the company and feel I have the support from my managers to do so.
If I were to name a woman who inspires me, it would be Princess Diana. Her inspiring work with AIDs patients and Anti-landmine Campaigns portrayed that she truly was ‘The people’s princess’. She taught us that everyone in society deserves a voice and to be heard.
Outside of work me and my family hold season tickets for Fulham FC so used to attend the home games but unfortunately, we cannot do this at the moment! ☹ I love spending time with my other half and his children on the weekends. If I could go and live by the Sea I would, that is the dream… with loads of puppies!
If you are have found any of the updates has sparked your interest in working within the construction industry and are interested in joining CTS, head over to our careers page to find out more