We're marking International Women in Engineering Day with the story of Carolyne Giner, an operations business manager who has spent nearly 10 years working on our Suffolk Highways contract, within Kier Highways. Carolyne tells the inspiring story about how she made the leap from a career in the care sector, to a life on the roads – and hasn’t looked back since.
“This International Women in Engineering Day, I’ve taken a moment to reflect on all the steps I’ve taken to lead me to where I am today. Like many women, my path to construction hasn’t been straight forward.
“As a child, construction didn’t seem like a sector ‘for girls’. I don’t recall any visits from site managers or operatives like there are today, telling me about the wealth of opportunities in the sector. Instead, I knew I was a caring person, and that’s where I felt the most reward. So, I carried out my college studies in health and social care, and quickly got a job caring for adults with special needs and learning disabilities.
“Relevant? Absolutely. The experience allowed me to become increasingly patient and astute. The sense of accomplishment I gained was the acknowledgment I needed - that ‘people’ would be the golden thread throughout any career I pursued.
“After five years of working in the care facility, I fell pregnant with the first of my three children. I knew that the shift work would make it difficult to care for my son, Callum, without finding a new role.
“Who would have thought that this would kickstart a career in what is largely regarded as a technical field?
“I began working on behalf of an agency carrying out administrative roles – which, out of sheer luck and circumstance, landed me a role with Suffolk Highways in 2013. I was then hired by Kier Highways, who manages and maintains its road network, in 2016.
“During this time, I completed my Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) course, completed a first line management course and joined Kier’s talent programme. I have taken everything in my stride and have been keen to learn from others around me.
"Flash forward and I'm now responsible for identifying opportunities for operational improvement across our workstreams – to evaluate performance to deliver meaningful solutions. I now manage a team of three reactive works managers, who each have supervisors, operatives and controllers reporting to them. I’m now also responsible for reactive operations, supporting the head of operations with recovery programmes.
“I’m now a mental health first aider – and I love that I can continue to care and lend my support in a completely different setting. I take a leaf out of my own book when it comes to health and wellbeing, and in my spare time, I’m part of a women’s walking group. I have even come to enjoy cold water dipping!
“However, my life nowadays requires me to layer my people skills with an eye for performance development.
“It’s my business to know what affects the operatives digging the roads, the designers mapping our next project, and our commercial teams drawing reports – to drive measurable, continuous improvement for our client and the Suffolk community.
“I have immense pride to work alongside a wide range of hugely talented colleagues – with skillsets so broad that being able to be part of the ‘glue’ that wealds it together both fascinates me and spurs me on to do bigger and better things.
“I’m pleased to be a part of an industry with an increasingly healthy, vibrant culture that encourages its people to succeed – and I think it’s only right that on days like today, we celebrate the careers in the sector and encourage women to know that the doors are wide open for them and we’re here, arms outstretched.”