Witterick, 34, is principal acoustic consultant/leader, Acoustics North West at Capita Symonds
What has been the hardest challenge you have faced to get to where you are now?
Being a working mum has been much more challenging than I imagined it would be. I originally came back part time, and I have to say that both Capita and my Clients were very open to my working pattern. I’m now full time but still try to be flexible to spend time with my daughter. The hardest thing is the “mother’s guilt” - the days when you are begged not to go to work by a tearful toddler and you quietly remember that the nursery staff spend more waking time with your child than you do are really tough.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I’m not sure - that’s part of the adventure! I would quite like to branch out into the wider construction industry, perhaps working for a contractor as a design lead or a project manager, but it’s more likely that I will remain in acoustics - hopefully finding new ways to challenge myself as I hate to be bored. I think it’s unlikely that I would set up my own business, but who knows?
Where do you see the construction industry going in the next year, three years and decade?
I can see the current paralysis continuing through the next year, as the industry waits to see what the Government will cut next and while we all try to come to terms with what has been a traumatic period. In the longer term, though, the economy has to improve and this will mean more private investment. Acoustics seems to go through phases - when I started there were a lot of concert halls funded by the Lottery, then we moved on to commercial offices, before BSF and education began to dominate. There are a few candidates for the “next big thing” and it will be interesting to see how the market develops.
What has been your career high point so far?
The opening concert of Cork School of Music, and overhearing people enthusing about the acoustics of the concert hall. Then going around the teaching spaces and seeing how pleased the staff and students were with their new building. I enjoyed the whole project, it was a great design and contractor team and one of the most genuinely collaborative projects I have ever worked on.
And the low point?
It would be any one of a number of all-night noise surveys. Brighton beachfront in -6° temperatures, Kings Cross and all the slightly unhinged people who kept coming over for a chat, or the time when the Police accused me of soliciting, despite my oh-so-sexy attire of thermal underwear, many layers of thick woolly clothes, and a big hat!
Who is your hero?
My mum. She gave up her nursing career to care for my dad, who was a quadriplegic, so when I came along she was effectively a single mum with a 24/7 nursing job on top. I don’t understand how she managed that without dying from exhaustion or going insane. Then in her 50s she re-qualified as a nurse and by the time she retired had worked her way up to be a well-respected Matron of a nursing home. I would love to have her patience and tenacity.
If you could take one thing with you to a desert island, what would it be?
A big photo album filled with photos of my family.