Quantity surveyor Donna urges more women to consider career in construction

When Donna Barford studied to become a quantity surveyor (QS), she was one of just a few women on her training course – out of 60 students.

But far from putting her off, Donna said the industry is such a fascinating sector, more women should consider it for a career.

Here, Donna, now a Senior Managing QS, reflects on her profession – and her almost 17 happy years at Seamans.

The beginnings of a career in construction

After school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as a career and had planned on studying geography at university.

But I attended a surveying-based careers event and visited a PQS practice in Bury St Edmunds.  I found it intriguing and it raised my interest in construction and the built environment.

The more I discovered about the industry, I realised I would like to pursue a career within it, so I started working for a PQS practice in west Suffolk.

As part of my job, I was enrolled on a five-year, part-time degree surveying course. After this, it took a further two years to qualify as a Chartered QS.

Although I was aware construction was a very male-dominated sector, I didn’t allow this to deter me.  I embraced surveying and worked with everyone to build a good rapport.

After working at another PQS practice in Bury St Edmunds, and then a housing association in Cambridgeshire, I started at Seamans Building in May 2006 – and have been here ever since.

A fascinating sector

Construction is such a brilliant industry to get into – it’s the sheer variety of projects you get to work on that makes the job so interesting.

At one time you could be working on the refurbishment of a Grade II listed country house, then your next project could be working on a new build multiple housing scheme, a Design & Build project, a bespoke dwelling, or a fire damaged building, such as Cupola House.

Then you also have exciting projects like the new library at Culford School or the architecturally stunning Balancing Barn in Thorington. The nature of the construction industry means that you don’t know what project could be next!

If you like following procedures, solving problems, meeting people, building relationships and being part of a team, you will enjoy a career in construction.

To any young women who are considering entering construction as a career, whether it be surveying, management, architecture, or whatever path – I would say go for it.

For more information on careers and apprenticeships at Seamans, see our careers page.