Emily BurridgeEmily Burridge, 22, is a Concrete Technical Production Manager who covers 25 concrete plants in the West Midlands.

Emily is one of only four females to go through the Hanson LEAD programme, which she joined three years ago.

She gained a foundation degree in Minerals Management from the University of Derby and is now focusing on gaining an honours degree, whilst working in her management role at Hanson.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

My name is Emily Burridge; I am 22 years old and have been working for Hanson UK for just over three years. I started as a LEAD trainee supervisor on a three-year Higher Apprenticeship in partnership with the University of Derby. I achieved a level 4 SHE qualification and completed a foundation degree in Mineral Extractives Technology. I am now a technical production manager covering 25 concrete plants in the West Midlands, focusing on the quality control of all concrete produced out of the plants and delivered to customers. I also manage four employees who regularly visit construction sites to sample and test the materials produced.

I come from Somerset but moved to South Wales and then the West Midlands for my job. My family are very hands-on in their careers, my father has had roles as a farm labourer and a mechanic, so I was never afraid to get stuck in. Being able to work outside has always appealed to me and mixing office work and site visits is a huge benefit to my role. However, the characters you meet in this industry are the most memorable and fun parts of my job, and stories about massive or unusual building projects are commonplace. Discussing drones, using explosives, or how things have changed over 30 years is incredible; what you can learn talking to others who have been in business for years is astounding.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I was never one for planning the future as I always had the mind-set that everything could change at the last-minute, but the one thing I saw myself going into after college was graphic design having achieved an A* in my A-levels. That never happened. In my last year at college all my friends were visiting universities and applying to UCAS and panicking about the debt they would get into and it changed my perspective. Having already been working for a few years in a pub, I was already adjusting to the world of work and the appeal of getting an education as well as a wage was an eye-opener, so I started looking for apprenticeships on the government website when I spotted the Hanson LEAD programme.

I had no back-up plan and attended the interview and assessment centre where applicants were given a series of challenges to assess team-building, assertiveness, and communication. Luckily I had a phone call the week after and was offered the role.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

You face challenges in every job, but in the construction industry, ours tend to be on a much larger scale and as a matter of urgency. Typically, you have two hours to place concrete once it is mixed, so there is little time to correct any issues. Imagine you are supplying material to a motorway but the route to the site is blocked. You have to work around that and find a solution or at least ensure the customer is kept informed. The biggest challenge for me has been adjusting my leadership style to ensure I am the best manager I can be for staff who are more experienced than me.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

While I have no official title as a mentor, I like to think that I make myself approachable and I have good supportive relationships with everyone I communicate with. I see mentoring as crucial as it’s never fun to be thrown in the deep end. Some people can get really weighted down without the right support. In terms of career progression, mentoring people not only gives them higher self-worth but can also prepare them for new roles and changes within the company.

What do you want to see happen within the next five years when it comes to diversity?

Diversity is already increasing within the industry; I would love to see this continue. By no means is the industry discriminatory, but it doesn’t appeal to certain groups of people due to the stereotype of being out on a cliff-face looking at rock. We have space for all types of people within our company and offer positions not just in the building products operational sites but also in the technical areas, HR, Finance, and IT.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

Facilities at our operational sites are catching up fast with our larger offices which have excellent amenities and I would like to see that accelerate.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement aside from becoming a manager of 25 concrete plants at the age of 21, was a project I headed to create a new concrete mix to be used in ‘Tremie’ applications. It took me a little over a year to research, trial and produce our proprietary product Tremiecrete which is now on the market. I had to send the final report to our parent company, Heidelberg Cement, for approval. It was an intense time, but the reward of seeing a product from an initial idea, to market across the whole of the UK is incredible. I can walk past buildings in the middle of cities and say: my concrete helped that to be possible.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

My next challenge is in finding a way to challenge the technology of concrete further and create types of mixes that solves existing problems in the construction industry. In my role, product development and an emphasis on material quality is vital. In the future, I hope to help revolutionise the industry through the use of new technologies and initiatives.

Hanson use Early Talent specialists Cohesion to manage their LEAD recruitment process on their behalf. For more information please visit: https://www.hanson-careers.co.uk/en/apprenticeships