KBS Alum: ‘Construction isn’t all Muddy Boots and High-Vis Jackets’

a picture of steph harris

Stephanie Harris studied BSc Management Science at Kent Business School followed by an MSc in Management. She took her expertise into the construction sector, where she now works as a Business Manager for b&m, a Construction Consultancy.

The firm has worked on many largescale, local, projects including the Sibson Building and Templeman Library on campus. Steph will be speaking at our upcoming Applicant Day about carving a career in the construction industry.

“Though my dad worked in construction, it wasn’t what I set out to do when I took a BSc and MSc in Management disciplines at KBS. Like most people, when I thought of building and construction, it conjured up images of men working on sites in hard hats and high vis jackets.

When I graduated, I stumbled across a local job at a construction company in bid writing. I loved to write and had done well in it across my degree, so it seemed like a great place to start. To my surprise, I was following in dad’s footsteps and getting into the building trade.

Stephanie sat at a table looking at building plans
Stephanie enjoys her varied role in the construction industry

During the first decade of my career, I widened my skill set, moving from bid writing into marketing more widely, as well as business development and HR. During this time, I also gained two professional qualifications and these helped to build upon my degree knowledge and develop an even more rounded skillset. A couple of years after this, this variety of skills enabled me to land my current role at b&m.

Across my working career, I’ve found that University study gave me transferable skills that I could use to a real advantage. At b&m I have been given the chance to manage various strategic business projects, including workforce planning, change management and we’re currently focused on brand advocacy. We rebranded completely last year, and I project managed that.

Photo of Sibson Building at Kent Business School
b&m worked on the Sibson Building

Our business is moving at an incredibly fast pace, and I love that my role is varied.  In any one day I can flit between office management to marketing, quality management to health and safety and everything in between.

The projects we work on are not just impressive but meaningful – take Sibson, National RIBA Award winning and BREEAM Excellent certification. BREEAM is the world’s leading sustainability assessment method for master planning projects, infrastructure, and buildings. It means that b&m worked as part of the design team to ensure every element of the building was as sustainable as possible.

It’s great to push projects that have social value and sustainability at the top of their agenda. Some of my favourites to date include the Margate Caves, where a new visitors centre was built plus access was restored to the caves, which had been closed since 2004. The project is run by a local Trust and their volunteers – it’s a true community project.

Steph appearing as a speaker at Kent Business School
Stephanie will be speaking at our next Applicant Day on March 5

We’re also part of the team working to deliver the Urban Skate Park, F51, in Folkestone and new educational facilities for The Fifth Trust in Barham, a charity who support adults with learning disabilities.

Our major business objective for this year is to obtain B-Corp status, which will enable us to showcase our business as one which meets high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.

The sector is still very male dominated – a recent stat suggests that only 14 per cent of the industry is female. This is something that needs to change. There are 186 different roles within construction – from the well-known trades such as roofers and scaffolders to office-based roles such as interior designers, HR managers, BIM managers or business managers like me.

It certainly isn’t all muddy boots and high vis jackets, but it can be that if you want it to be!  If you study a business discipline, there is a role for you in construction no matter what your gender or where your passions lie.”

Stephanie will be appearing at the KBS Undergraduate Applicant Day on 5 March 2022

At Kent Business School you can learn a range of business functions  Find out more about our BSc in Business and Management and BSc Management – BSc (Hons) – Undergraduate courses – University of Kent

email KBSBusiness@kent.ac.uk

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