engage magazine issue 001 spring \'06 - Page 24

24 CONSTRUCTION Feature One day in February 2005, I woke up and decided to work for my ideal firm. In this corporate nirvana, I would be respected and valued as a professional and suitably rewarded for my abilities and commitment. Here, I had the freedom to be enthusiastic and creative and my ambition would not be seen as a threat. Glass ceilings would be shattered, the work-life balance was encouraged and I would not be seen as ‘statistically favourable’. I searched long and hard, in that very busy weekend, but this firm didn’t seem to exist, so by Monday morning, Wallis Chase Ltd had been born. Let’s be more accurate, Wallis Chase wasn’t born. Unlike many business founders, my company is not my baby. For me Wallis Chase is an appropriate vehicle for me to achieve something positive within my career, the construction industry or my community. My company is a construction consultancy that has given me the opportunity to present myself for who I am. I am, first and foremost, a construction professional who has 17 years experience working within both the technical (design) and managerial (project/commercial) roles within the industry. I have been responsible for schemes or processes on projects from £150 000 to £303 million. I work hard and I’m good at what I do. I’m also a woman and I’m also Black. Without presenting exact statistics, it can be generally accepted that the percentage of women in construction is small. This percentage is further reduced if you add the term ‘management’, further reduced if you add the term ‘black’ and, frankly, you may as well call off the search if you add the term ‘business founder’, but here I am. Being a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) has been both rewarding and challenging and, as with any adventure, there will always be pitfalls and benefits. On a good day, I can work where I want, for as long as I want to hit the targets I set. I can be flexible with my business, professional and personal lives and, well, I’m the boss. On a bad day, I believe that my bank has been solely created to destroy both me and my firm. It does get lonely, I work extremely long hours and cash flow is always a concern but I get to continually develop my skills to ensure that I work for the ‘ideal firm’ and I only make decisions that allow me to sleep well at night. A truly diverse supplier Without presenting exact statistics, it can be generally accepted that the percentage of women working in construction is small engage SPRING ISSUE 2006