Glenveagh Home’s Barbara Robinson: The benefits of life-long learning and building industry networks

by | Feb 22, 2023

Nurturing New Attitudes

“I’m energised by helping others to learn and succeed,” says Barbara Robinson, Glenveagh Home’s Organisational Development and Learning Manager.

It’s an attitude that fits right in at homebuilders Glenveagh Properties PLC, who have made educating and encouraging a new and next generation of builders a priority.

“This year, we’ll have our Glenveagh Academy up and running, to grow our own talent and to support aspiring leaders,” Robinson says.

“We also have a 34-strong graduate programme being run in partnership with the IMI to build our future leaders. Along with an engaging schools’ programme, women in construction scholarship and Return with Confidence placements.

“I’m really excited about it because it fulfils my mission to nurture talent and guide them to where they want to be.” Barbara Robinson’s mission is to help people reach their professional goals.

That means identifying skills gaps to then provide learning solutions that guide towards a fulfilling and successful career path. She’s most proud of Glenveagh’s recent Great Place to Work survey results, which showed a huge lift in engagement and appreciation of learning and development.

And so it’s fitting too that she is a member of the CIF’s Education Training and Skills Committee. As is the case across the whole of  the industry, there is an urgent need to focus on apprenticeships and attracting new talent into the industry.

Glenveagh’s Barbara Robinson with students from Kildare Town Community School’s engagement programme

For Robinson this means encouraging women to engage with the sector and see it as an attractive career opportunity. Building an innovative culture that puts technology and Modern Methods of Construction to the fore is transforming the way people work and has been central to increasing the sector’s appeal.

“Glenveagh’s workforce has grown hugely in recent years, and our superb new talent management system – aptly called GRIT – is geared to give oversight to leaders on teamand individual performance,” Robinson says.

“We’re also developing a management system to track learning, which will be hugely helpful in making the learning and development process more efficient.”

She adds: “It still amazes me to see the advances in construction technology. To see a timber frame structure rise in a few hours is extraordinary.”

Tell us something we might not know about you?

“I coach basketball and teach yoga and love trawling salvage yards. Our kitchen divider is a Victorian castiron window frame.”

Outside of Glenveagh itself, Robinson cites others who have inspired her professional path. Take, for example, Liz Carroll who is the  Network Manager for Construction Professionals Skillnet.

“She co-ordinates funded learning programmes in a broad range of construction qualifications and makes life easier for people like me,” Robinson says.

Another women, closer to home this time, is responsible for some of the best advice she’s received to date.

“I have two pieces of advice, both from my mother,” she says. “The first is you can’t  control what others do but you can control your reaction. The second is not everyone has to like you.” Another rule she swears by is this: “If you pay for advice, take it!”

Attitudes, she says, are thankfully shifting when it comes to women working in construction. “There’s no doubt that industry leaders are committed to creating a more inclusive, equitable workforce where diversity is celebrated.

“But to be it, you have to see it. We need more female role models,” she adds. Homebujlding, in particular, can be particularly fulfilling.

“This is really meaningful work, building homes and helping to create flourishing, sustainable communities.

“There’s a huge sense of excitement and achievement in seeing mucky fields blossom into showhouses,” she says. “If you want to get out in the elements, that’s an option.

“If not, there are very few industries that require such a breadth of skills and talent – from negotiating land deals, all the way to  handing over the keys to happy new homeowners.”

Glenveagh’s Barbara Robinson with students from Kildare Town Community School’s engagement programme

Within her career, Barbara Robinson is following her own advice to embrace lifelong learning. Having now worked for two years in  the construction industry, she’s currently studying for a business and executive coaching diploma in Smurfit Business School.

She describes herself as having been ‘born, bred and educated’ in the university town of Maynooth, where she lives and works today. Great mentors and the luck to find jobs she has enjoyed have all played a part in reaching her current level of success.

“Unlikely as it might sound, anthropology – which I studied in Maynooth – gave me priceless insights into cultures, values and boundaries which led me towards talent development and into human resources,” she says.

“I then acquired a couple of Masters degrees in HR and project management. “I don’t think it’s possible to excel in your career without commitment, a dollop of self-awareness and strong team spirit,” she adds.

“I’m a member of the Irish Institute of Learning and Development and more recently, of CIF’s Education Training and Skills Committee. I’m also chair of the Fingal Skills Strategy Construction Subcommittee.

“I’m a big believer in building networks in the industry.”

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