Natasha is a Built Infrastructure Surveyor, specialising in the Commercial Cost Management of major infrastructure frameworks and projects, notably in Water Utilities and Aviation. She is skilled in forecasting, change management, NEC3 contract management and contract administration.
Diversity, inclusion and team-working within the construction industry is a passion that Natasha is keen to continue to champion throughout her future career. Please do contact her for more information about her involvement in current Diversity initiatives or follow her on her Twitter account.
What did you want to be growing up?
Growing up, there were a number of careers that I’d considered, with the top two career choices being Archaeologist and Air Traffic Controller. I’ve always loved history and ancient civilisations, geology and physical geographical forms. You’d always find me as a child, digging around for stones and bits of broken pottery in the back garden. But I also loved aviation, the excitement of airports, wondering where everyone was going, what adventures they were going to experience, different cultures, different landscapes. I liked the idea that I might be the one who was helping all those passengers reach their destinations safely.
What is your proudest moment?
I have many proud moments in my life, achieving new things creates new opportunities – and I would say that my latest proud moment was achieving my two Charterships. In the early part of my career, my confidence suffered a large knock – to the point where I questioned whether I wanted to carry on being a surveyor. It took a long time, and a lot of good friends to convince me that I could achieve and be the surveyor I wanted to be. So after 11 years in the industry, I finally achieved what I had thought at one point in my life, was impossible. In all honesty i’m still proud of my achievements. And I have one eye on the future to see what other things I can achieve and keep that proud feeling going!
What’s your favourite book and why?
My favourite book is a difficult ask – I love so many books from so many different genre, but, I guess one of the books which captured my imagination the most, was Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. As a child, I wasn’t very bookish, I was more interested in getting out and running around, dancing and playing. I wasn’t much one for the classics – and then my Dad showed me this book. I was always a stargazer, so reading about space, however fantastical, seemed like something I should give a go. I devoured it completely, and it was a seminal moment for me, that even now, science fiction is my absolute favourite choice to read. Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Philip K Dick – the list is endless.
What has driven your passion for diversity in your industry / sector?
I am very passionate about diversity within Construction for many reasons. Partly, because I come from a background that is not typically ‘Construction’ based, and partly beacuse I’m a big advocate of diversity of thought and new possibilities. If you have a room full of people with the same background, the same experiences and the same ethnicity/gender/age you will simply get the same answers to any problem posed. If we want to be an innovative, world leading industry, drawing the best minds and solving the biggest problems, then we need a diverse base of minds and experience in order to do so. Diversity is the only way forward – and the various McKinsey reports are an interesting read to back up this thinking. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity
Best career advice you received and why?
The best career advice I’ve ever received is to have a clear view of what you want in the short term, medium term and long term. It seems really obvious, but actually sitting down and committing it to paper works. Things do change, and the realisation that this can be changed is also important. Because the thing you notice when you actively start tracking your career path, is how quickly it changes for the better. You achieve so much more when you set your sights on a goal, and what this leads to, is improvements in the medium and long term goals. Currently, I’m already well ahead of the mid term goal that I set myself in 2017, so my long term goal has had to change for the better – which is never a bad thing.
What tips do you have for managing your inbox?
I set rules for my inbox, for instance, where I’m CC’d into an email, I have them automatically filed into a CC Inbox, so that when my current inbox is cleared, I can then read the emails that I’ve been CC’d into for information. I also do the same for automatic notifications such as read receipts and meeting invitations.
What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
To keep going. To just believe in yourself and keep going, keep fighting on. People, circumstances, unforeseen barriers – there will always something which will try to knock you down and set you back. But keep your goals in mind. Amend them if need be, but know you can. Know that you’re stronger than you think, and know that we’re all stronger together – so find your support network which suits who you are – and just keep going.
How do you relax?
I trained as a Composer for my first degree, and this has always been, and continues to be a huge part of who I am. So to relax, I immerse myself in my music. Singing, listening, performing, learning, there’s always something new going on in the musical world. Last year I performed in an early music opera amongst other concerts, and I hope to seek out similar opportunities this year too.
What is your advice to other women in your position?
Network, network, network. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to spend every night down the pub with people from your company, or go to potentially intimidating ‘meet and greet’ evenings, but to find the network which works for you. None of us is an island, and sometimes having that supportive network is all you need to identify your next opportunity. Simply, because the support and discussions lead to different ways of thinking, different ways of working, and opportunities you might not have known about had you simply carried on in the same way as before.
What advice do you have for someone looking to negotiate a new salary?
Know what you’re worth in the industry, and stick to what you know is correct. As a colleague once said to me, as a QS, if you don’t know what your own value is, how can you give your client confidence that you’re going to be able to properly evaluate their projects? The same is true in reverse. If a client or company tries to get your services for a low value, then what else will they be doing to compromise fair and equitable treatment of their projects, contractors and sub-contractors?
What advice do you have for developing self-belief and confidence?
This is the hardest advice of all to give. But in my experience this is something that needs constant work. Others can tell you you’re brilliant and inspirational, but the only person that can really convince you of these things is yourself. As someone who suffers from Impostor Syndrome, you can achieve any number of qualifications, but can easily forget the hard work and paths you’ve forged to achieve the successes and put it down to a fluke. Reflection and review of your achievements and acknowledging the work that has gone into them helps to stave off these feelings. Noting down the good things you do, celebrating them, hanging your certificates and awards around the house to constantly remind you that you’re brilliant. Be visible. Mentor others, coach them to be proud of what they do. All of these things reinforce your own self-belief and confidence. It’s never easy – but the things most worth having, are always the hardest to achieve. Believe you can be what you most desire. You may actually find you’re already what you want to be. You just haven’t realised it yet.