As part of our month-long campaign for Artline’s EKPR industrial range we have decided to look at empowering women within the skilled trades / construction sector. The first Lady, we would like you to meet is the one and only ‘Construction Queen’ Natalya! This absolute BOSS is an entrepreneur, CEO of the VaLu group of companies and author. We would like to thank Natalya for taking time out of her busy schedule to be part of our campaign. You can read her motivational and inspiring interview below!
(Image: Natalia Krystyna)
Why did you want to have a career in the construction industry? My husband introduced me to the construction industry twelve years ago and I loved it from the start! No two days are the same; I get to travel a lot and meet tons of unique people. Also, the sky is literally the limit in construction as it is a booming industry in the UK right now. If you're willing to work hard then opportunities and earnings are virtually limitless.
Did you ever feel ‘uneasy’ about entering a male dominated industry? Nope. I'm direct and intelligent, and the way I have dressed and presented myself (boldly on both counts) all my life has meant that I have had to hold my head high and show my capabilities at all times. I take great delight to prove wrong the ideas of old-fashioned people who believe that women in construction should be sweet, subdued, and subservient.
As a female in this industry have you faced any challenges? If so, what were they? I've rocked up for directors' meetings alongside other companies and been referred to jokingly as the tea lady. Only men in construction say that sexism doesn't exist anymore - it does - but I live to put people like that in their place. I replied with a 'no, are you the stripper?' I've been ignored in favour of my male co-workers, failed to be introduced at all, and asked whether I would check 'with the boss' whether I can sign off on projects because people assume that it is not my own business. It makes me laugh, genuinely, because it reflects on their poor morals and standards, not mine.
What gives you motivation and drive every day? It's inherent and that's why success comes relatively easily - you can't force it. If you're not excited by the possibilities of your career every day though then you're in the wrong job.
Your success and achievements to date are amazing! However, do you have further goals you would like to accomplish in your career? It's all about growth for me - you can't beat a bit of growth! I want to be doing bigger developments of our own and for the name VaLu to become synonymous with quality design & build projects and small, affordable-housing developments. I'm currently in talks with a production company about being filmed for a fly-on-the-wall series following women in construction, which may or may not be big and could possibly lead to a role in Hollywood or a job alongside Alan Sugar, who knows?
What are the pros and cons of working in this industry? The pros and cons are the flip sides of the same coin. Some people listen to you more because you're a woman and you stand out in the industry; some people won't listen simply because you are a female. A lot of women won't consider construction because of the large ratio of males to females, but again this means that as a woman in construction you have almost been gifted a platform from which you may excel.
What advice would you give to other females that are considering a career in construction? Know your trade so you can silence the haters and the naysayers, be yourself, and loudly voice any ways to make the construction industry better for everybody. From there, everything else should all fall into place.
You can follow Natalia on LinkedIn: @NataliaKrystyna