International Women’s Day on 8th March is all about celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality…
Now, more than ever, there is a strong focus to encourage more women into the construction industry. One person keen to highlight the benefits of housebuilding as a career is Lydia Whitaker, 36, senior planning manager at Linden Homes’ Western region. Lydia joined the company in 2014 and was promoted last year, after she returned from maternity leave.
Working alongside the technical and land departments, Lydia’s primary aim is to secure planning permissions. She liaises with internal sales, commercial and technical teams, consultants – including architects, ecologists, landscapers and engineers – local planning authority officers and other consultees with the aim of achieving development schemes that are acceptable from both a business perspective and to key stakeholders.
A chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Lydia has a history degree and a master’s degree in town planning at Sheffield University. After her studies, she worked at Drivers Jonas (now Deloitte) as a planning consultant and Network Rail as a planning manager before she joined the housebuilding industry.
Lydia lives in Bristol with her husband and son. Commenting on her role, she said: “Planning is a very interesting and rewarding job. It’s so satisfying when I find a solution for a site that everyone is happy with and seeing it built is just the icing on the cake.
“There are challenges, the local councils are often under-resourced so deadlines can slip which makes it difficult to plan accordingly, and each site has different complications, so my work is always varied!”
Lydia has been able to accomplish a good work/life balance since having her first child and said: “I have a flexible working pattern to fit in with childcare and was incredibly proud to be promoted after I returned from maternity leave. Being supported and having my efforts acknowledged has been wonderful and it shows how times have changed. However, more still needs to be done as it’s not unusual for me to go to project meetings and be the only female in the room. That has to change – we need to inspire more women to join the housebuilding industry.”
Dave Farley, managing director at Linden Homes, said: “At our Bristol office, 50 per cent of the team are women and we have three female members on the board but it’s certainly a different story on site. We have two female assistant site managers working for us in the Western region and we’d definitely encourage more women to consider the role in future. A career in housebuilding offers a wide variety of job roles from land buyer to technical manager, labourer to surveyor and we regularly welcome schools to site to help inspire future generations.”
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EachforEqual. For further information visit www.internationalwomensday.com
Media can contact Emma Mackay on 077383 12960 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, images and interviews with Linden Homes.
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