An account from a Woman of Influence in Building Control

In celebration of International Women’s Day this past Monday, we have been looking to speak with many incredible women who have had great success within their respective industries.

Earlier this week I sat down with Donna Worrell, Building Control Manager at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, to give insight into her professional journey to date within a largely male-dominated industry.

What was your initial career path and how did you end up in Building Control?

When I first left school I trained as a hairdresser but had to give up when I suffered an allergic reaction to the chemicals. I then went on to work for one of the major high street banks working my way up to Customer Service Manager.

After having my daughter I wanted to work closer to home and that’s when I took my first position in Local Authority Building Control as a Technical Support Officer. I really enjoyed this role and took an active interest in Building Control so when a trainee post came up I went for it.

I was very lucky to have the support of a great team of Officers around me during the five years it took me to complete my training and after graduating from University I took on my first post as an Area Building Control Surveyor.

Did you think that you would be working in Building Control when you left education?

Never, and even when I joined Building Control I wouldn’t have envisaged the path my career took or that I would end up running Southvale Building Control with a team of 14 staff.

What is your greatest achievement in your career so far?

For me, my greatest achievement was being awarded The Caparo Award for best student of each of the seven schools when I graduated from the University of Westminster. I wasn’t told until the day of my graduation so it was a real surprise and made what was already a special day just amazing.

What piece of advice do you wish you could tell your past self?

That although things seem like a lot of hard work and effort at the time, it’s worth it in the end.

What’s the biggest problem people in building control are facing?

Resourcing in general in construction is an ongoing problem and has been for many years now. Within building control, it is also widely recognised that there is an aging workforce too. There needs to be more focus on bringing people into Building Control and attracting younger people into the industry in general.

What would you say to other women looking to start a role in Building Control?

If you have an interest in construction, enjoy working with and meeting lots of great people, are willing to work hard, and have a can-do attitude then it might just be the career for you.

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