A woman smiling

Meet Melissa Chambers

Having joined VolkerRail in 2012, as a resource co-ordinator, Melissa is now a project manager within our Power division, proving that women can thrive in construction.

Tell us a little about your career journey

Rostering over 70 employees is a very complicated role, but throughout my time as a resource co-ordinator, I was able to gain insight into what project managers do, and the similarities in skillset.

This sparked a career change, and in 2019, I took my first steps into project management, having undertaken VolkerRail’s Association for Project Management (APM) development programme, and I have never looked back.

Can a woman work in construction?

Definitely. Times have changed, and the construction industry – for me the rail sector – continues to become more inclusive.

When I started at VolkerRail 11 years ago, I was the only female in an all male office. Today, whilst still male dominated, we are seeing more women. Not just in VolkerRail, but in our supply chain and client base. I also recently joined a webinar from the APM, which was about inclusion for women in rail, and I got to hear stories from others within rail and construction. It was quite an eye opener. It was also great to see that VolkerRail is leaps and bounds above other businesses.

Are you encouraged to develop?

VolkerRail values its employees, and without its support I wouldn’t be a project manager. My manager – who is a man – listened and advised on the best development and career progression.

I then undertook training, was provided mentors for advice, and also has a full suite of e-learning courses to help with soft-skills and behavioural development. I’ve also undertaken training on how to become a mentor, so I can share what I know, and help and coach those new to project management.

What is it like being a women on site?

I’m both office and site based, and I get to work with a lot of different people. Although I am the only female working on my project, I am seeing more women join the wider project management team.

My project team is also amazing, and they treat me no different to the men on site – I’m sure half the time they forget I’m female and just see me as one of the boys. I’m included in everything, and it’s great to see that we don’t have any gender barriers.

What is one myth about being a women in construction that you would like to de-bunk?

There is a big myth that women don’t like working on site as it’s too dirty. Or that we only want to when it’s sunny, so we don’t get our hair wet in the rain.

We enjoy being on site and assisting with the activities, such as cable pulling (working as one team) – which is a hands on task. No one likes working in the rain, but we work in all weather conditions, and I’m not bothered what I look like on site, as I am there to do a job.

I think some people will expect me to turn up to site with a clipboard, and clean, bright orange PPE – all brand new – but this isn’t me. I look the same as everyone else, and just get my gloves and glasses on and start working on whatever task we need to do.

Careers at VolkerRail

If you’re looking for a new opportunity, or a place within the construction industry, have a look at the current vacancies we have available by clicking here