As part of the 8th March International Women's Day, we want to highlight the women working at all levels at AluK. Meet Sarah, she is our Receptionist. We've prepared an interview where she shares her experience in this industry as a woman.
Can you share a little bit about yourself and your work at AluK?
I am a single working Mum of a teenage daughter and this is my third year working for ALUK.
I am the first face you see when you walk through the door and the first voice you hear if you phone our mainline, my role includes a variety of duties and daily tasks, as I assist many departments within ALUK in one way or another throughout the day. It is a busy role and even though I work alone, I deal with a vast amount of people each week which keeps most days interesting and allows me to thoroughly enjoy my job.
I live locally so it was fortunate that I got the position in Reception. It's nice not being too far away should my child ever need me in an emergency.
What influenced you to pursue a career in the aluminium/building industry?
It wasn’t so much the trade I first thought about, merely the role I knew I could do well. But since joining AluK and seeing the scale of the business first-hand I feel like it’s a secure industry to work for. Aluminium will always be a material people require, now and in the future and certainly, windows and doors will forever be required in our economy. To work in a trade and a company that is across the country, Europe and beyond allows me to have a feeling of stability.
What do you like most about your job?
The variety for me is what I thrive on …. from the external visits to Directors meeting’s, warehouse and recruitment, showroom bookings, Training days and our loyal customers. I’m always busy and that’s how I like it.
What is your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
I guess one of my accomplishments would be consistent pride in my work no matter what the day throws at me. It’s a busy solo role I do not have a team to support me should situations occur, I handle things alone in a wide range of scenarios and always with a smile. I feel I get along with each colleague across departments and titles and that they trust I will always be at hand to assist them in any way I can.
What else would you like to achieve in your career?
Extra achievements for me would be to further my computer skills although it doesn’t hinder my role in any way as my skills are adequate for what is required, but I do believe improvements are a must in my position so in the future I could assists colleagues with administration jobs and more detailed spreadsheets if ever required.
How do you balance career & family?
Balancing career and family is a lot easier now as I used to work a night shift for 14 years so I could be a mum in the daytime. I applied at AluK and began the job when my daughter was older. I live 2 minutes away from home and my daughter is old enough to jump on the school bus so I guess you could say this job made balancing so much easier for me.
Aluminium is a field mainly dominated by men. Have you faced any obstacles in your career which you believe were due to be a woman? If so, how did you overcome this?
I feel this question is not for me, although the aluminium trade may be dominated by men my position within it does not have that problem. What I will say is that in our company many women hold a strong and equal position to the male colleagues across all departments and their skills and opinions are taken with just as much respect as any other.
In your opinions, what challenges women face in the aluminium/building industry?
Predominantly I would assume that the first challenge would be perhaps a woman doesn’t realise that it’s an industry she could excel in. Most would stereotype the metal industry to favour a man’s position when the truth is known from architects to scientist, project estimators to directors many roles fall within the business that would suit any gender.
What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the aluminium/building industry?
The best part about being a woman in the industry is the fact that you “can be a woman in the industry” times changed and it's acceptable for a woman to flourish in a man's environment and enjoy working alongside those she is equal to.
What woman has influenced you most in your life and/or career?
Any working mother influences me, not only am I one, but I have great respect for the woman who holds down motherhood, the bills, the home and a job. Some move forward to high pressured roles and some may choose part-time positions but to juggle the expectations of both always inspires me and I continue to represent.
What advice would you give to a woman looking to start her career in the aluminium/building industry?
My advice would be “ Go For It “ it’s a fast pace trade with plenty of opportunities to grow if you choose to. It will always be a required industry and knowledge of aluminium can be used across a wide scope of businesses.
What do you think companies like AluK can do to encourage more women to choose careers in the aluminium/building industry?
Media is always a supportive source, be it advertising or social media its a great way for women to get an insight into an industry they previously may not have entertained at all. Workshops with skills normally related to males that could encourage a career change for someone a little wary of something new or who don’t want to go to university at a later stage in life.
Sometimes it's not even what you know just encouraging words from who you know.