Hayley Bufton has had quite a busy year, bagging Willmott Dixon's trainee of the year award and finding time to front a national advertising campaign …
CITB-ConstructionSkills chose you to front an advertising campaign to encourage more women to join construction. What was that like?
It was really exciting - it all happened quite quickly. I got involved in doing small interviews to promote the industry with other women - there was another QS, a painter, a site manager - and they took photos of us, and then I did some extra interviews and it went on from there. At work, people react with a mixture of pride that one of their colleagues is out there, and curiosity about how I got into it. My clients and subcontractors all see the articles as well - some of them send me cuttings through the post.
What difference do you think the campaign has made?
I think it's had a very good impact. I speak to my friends who know nothing about the industry - I've shown them articles and they can't believe how involved everything is. They don't know what the CITB is, but they've seen adverts on TV and it's really good they're starting to get an idea of what I do. Before, they just used to look at me really blank-faced, so it's obviously working.
What are you working on now?
I'm running the commercial side of a £2m project to build a community centre in Harrow, which is going to be the focal point of a wider regeneration. It's a slightly different project for Willmott Dixon, so it's a really good learning curve for me. You're using different trades and more complicated systems - you don't usually have solar shading or a sports floor on a house or a block of flats.
That's quite a large project so early in your career. Do you find it hard to get people to take you seriously?
Not at all. I get extremely good support from my line manager, and it's good to feel that your employer has a bit of faith in you because they feel able to put you on a job that's not straightforward. As a young woman walking on to a building site, you do find people wanting to know who you are, but Willmott Dixon is employing so many more women on its sites these days that it's less of a novelty. Over the five years I've spent working in the industry, it has become much more normal.
So what are you going to do next?
I've just enrolled with the RICS to study for my APC - I'm still in the frame of mind for studying because I've just finished my degree. I've already worked on schemes worth about £2.5m that tend to be reasonably complicated, but I'd like to work on a bigger site where the budgets are a bit bigger, possibly what we call an "enhanced" programme where we might have two sites running at the same time to build it quicker, which would be a lot more demanding.
Employment history Started working in construction in October 2000 as a trainee surveyor for Fitzpatrick Contracting. In May
2002 joined Willmott Dixon and began studying for an HNC in Building Studies at Oaklands College, part of Westminster University, on
day release. Graduated last June with a 2:1 for her quantity surveying BSc. Last year, she fronted the Positive Image campaign by CITB-Construction Skills and she recently received Willmott Dixon’s trainee of the year award.
Lives St Albans, with her partner of four years
Hobbies Travelling, watching live bands