Nicola Dobbie: Women in Construction and Trade

Written by Grey

We're featuring Women in Construction and Trade every Wednesday!

This week we spoke to Nicola Dobbie, operations manager at WPF Solutions UK Ltd, self described multi talented extraordinaire and general superhero.

Hi Nicola, thank you for getting involved with our Women in Construction and Trade Wednesdays! Could you tell us a little bit about what you do?

As a company we cross quite a few sectors, from new builds, extensions, renovations through to working with councils & schools on their remodeling both internally & externally.

For people that are interested in getting started in your profession, how is it that you got to where you are now?

Fresh out of school I trained as a Veterinary Nurse & eventually ran a practice in Leeds, which to many sounds completely unrelated to anything I have done since, but the role was so varied it was a great foundation. The general day to day running of a business and then at any point an emergency can come through the door & you’re rushing to theatre.

From there I went on to work for an international chemical company running their UK procurement department.

Obviously, I have my CSCS, Asbestos, working at heights etc and I’m currently working towards my SMSTS certification.

What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on?

The redesign of a school playground. The age range of the children using it was 5-7 years old, the outdoor area is effectively used as a classroom. I really enjoyed creating something new for them and it was lovely to go back & see them all having so much fun.

That sounds lovely! Over on Twitter, we’ve been running a #workimproudof initiative, so… whilst on the job, what are you most proud of achieving?

I would say probably my first two weeks, we were working on social housing in the north of England. It was a mix of managing both the technical & people, while keeping the tenants happy. It was a definite frying pan/fire situation, I didn’t know the people I was working with or the other teams on site and there was quite a lot for me to prove.

And do you have an ideal project that you want to work on?

I’d love to be involved in a truly unique, eco/sustainable build on a remote Scottish island, something that would make George Clarks eyebrows shoot off his head in excitement.

Do you have a mentor figure who has inspired you?

Not in the technical definition as I’ve never talked to her but Dame Stephanie “Steve” Shirley. She had many setbacks & obstacles in her way but consistently worked through them, evolved & created an amazing business.

Do you feel you have ever been subjected to any inequality in your profession because of your gender identity?

There is definitely an initial judgement from men & women, in most cases it’s just the same as if a new member of staff starts with a company, they have to prove themselves.

However, there are those who make it clear that they either don’t want you there or see you as a novelty & will try their best to embarrass you.

Thankfully I know that is their problem not mine and at times I can be quite funny & quick so they never get the last laugh.


Is there anything you would like to say to other women who are just entering the industry?

Work hard, take pride in what you do & do it well. That will speak volumes about you, far more than ever having to justify yourself.

Possibly just as important is be able to have a laugh, even at yourself.

Taking pride in what you do is so important! And last but not least, our desert island round; three tracks, a book and a luxury, what would you take to a desert island?

Tracks: Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks, Bring it on Home to Me by Sam Cooke, Canter by Gerry Cinnamon

Book: The Five People you meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Luxury: Shampoo!

This was Nicola Dobbie (@Nicola_Dobbie), interviewed for our #WiCW series – a compilation of articles from inspirational women in the Construction and Trades industries. Want to get involved? Have someone to recommend? Get in contact with Grey on Twitter or grey@shakeandspeare.com

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