Excellence award for inspirational females driving forward major motorway upgrade

A female team leading a multi-million motorway improvement scheme and paving the way for generations of women and girls to become future leaders of the construction industry, has won an award at the Construction News and New Civil Engineer Inspiring Women in Construction and Engineering Award for Excellence in Leadership.

The project team was crowned in front of the industry at a ceremony at the Leonardo Royal in London, with the judging panel commenting:

“This was a fantastic example of how two different organisations, Keltbray and National Highways, have formed a partnership that values all staff regardless of level or circumstance. They recognised the challenges, identified and took specific actions, and then provided excellent evidence of the impact, with a focus on the individual. This benefitted not just women but the whole workforce as well as reaching out to the wider community.”

Keltbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt, one of the women at the helm of the National Highways-led upgrade, said: “It’s an honour to have won and I’m so proud of the team.”

Louise, and National Highways’ Programme Manager Tsuwun Bevan, are both ultimately responsible for the scheme with National Highways Project Manager Sal Hopkinson and Keltbray Senior Project Manager Nicola Hodges both senior leaders. Around 65 per cent of the motorway upgrade’s leadership is female.

Tsuwun said: “This is testament to the brilliant female professionals involved in our partnership, driving this important project forward. We are so proud of the women working with us.”

Within the team there is female leadership in different sectors such as safety, quality, information management, commercial and facilities management.  

Behind the project is a dedication towards developing the next generation of talent by upskilling women on the M621 project, enabling them to take on roles including promotion of project management, quantity surveying, document control and administration staff.

Louise added: “We have a core of apprentices, including three young women studying for qualifications in engineering and commercial management. One success has been the appointment of one of the site cleaning staff as an apprentice, who now works as our document controller.”

On-site initiatives are driven by an equality, diversity and inclusion working group committed to cultural and behavioural change. There have been celebrations of events including a compulsory stand-down day for International Women’s Day. Safety campaigns have included subjects such as menopause, cervical cancer, and women’s health. This is in addition to other activities promoting an inclusive culture, such as speaking to groups including Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People, Yorkshire Children’s Charity and East Leeds Specialist Independent Learning Centre to understand the experiences of people impacted by highways work.

Keltbray’s community relations team has been driving a programme of school visits focused on women in construction. Mock interviews have been held with HMP New Hall Women and Young Offenders’ Institute and the homeless charity, St George’s Crypt. There has been distribution of more than 2,000 copies of Keltbray’s storybook ‘When I Grow Up’ educating children on careers in construction.

Tsuwun said: “Across the project, there is a real sense of compassion and care. We’re committed to creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves.”

The win comes just days after the M621 achieved ‘highly commended’ at the CECA Yorkshire and Humber Awards for ‘Going the Extra Mile’ for supporting South Leeds communities.

The Inspiring Women in Construction and Engineering awards, which celebrated the role models and organisations empowering women in construction and engineering, were jointly hosted by New Civil Engineer and Construction News.

In total, 15 winners were crowned, recognising the women and teams that stand out as exceptional and showcasing both individual and organisation wide initiatives.

The full list of winners can be found at: https://inspiring.constructionnews.co.uk/cnnceinspiringwomen2023/en/page/home


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