Equal Measures: An insight into a career in construction from a woman’s point of view
Izabele Pukelyte is Health and Safety Manager at Castle Group Ireland, Galway. She has worked in the construction industry for two years.
Tell us about your first job in the industry?
I made the leap from industrial manufacturing to construction in 2020. I was eager to change up my work environment. I wanted to gain exposure to construction and work on different projects. With Castle Group I have worked on over 40 projects of various scope around Ireland. No working day is the same and by juggling several main contractors, cultures and programmes on sites you are constantly problem-solving and communicating with people. That’s my favourite aspect of my job.
How did you reach your level of current success?
I think having confidence in what I do, and the power of persuasion and influence have all helped me achieve the respect and authority from management and our crews on site. As the health and safety manager I always listen and advise. Health and safety has shifted from the ‘no hard hat, no boots, no job’ mentality to asking more questions, finding the root cause of the problem and looking at how we can help our crew on site get the work done safely.
Why do you do what you do professionally?
I was always interested in science, engineering and business. Health and safety incorporates each of these disciplines. Once I started my professional development, and put what I learned at university into practice, I began to see the influence I could have with management and the workforce. This encouraged me to strive for improved safety, a positive safety culture in my company and continuous improvement. Health and safety is evolving and forever improving. It is exhilarating to be implementing and seeing the positive impact and change in health and safety in construction.
Best advice you’ve received to date?
Not really advice but more of a motivational quote. When I left my first job, my manager (who was the EHS lead for US and Europe) said to me: ‘I see you sitting behind my desk in a few years’ time’. This stayed with me, encouraged and motivated me to strive for success in anything that I do.
Your advice to women considering a career in construction?
It is not as rough as it is made out to be. Construction is exciting, forever changing and it is a great feeling to be part of successful projects.
Most surprising thing you’ve heard?
When I announced that I will be going into the construction industry I received a comment that went something like ‘Construction? You know that will be a very tough environment for a girl’. I can say that two years later, I have not had any negative experiences because I am a woman.
Proudest moment to date?
Accepting the Health, Safety & Wellbeing – Ireland award at the Sisk Supply Chain Awards in 2021. Out of the 13 awards handed out that night, I was one of two women on stage to accept an award.
How does your company support equality and diversity?
We have numerous different nationalities working at Castle Group and we embrace all types of diversity within our team. In the last five years, there has been an increase from approximately five per cent to 25 per cent women on the Castle Group team. Our vision is to grow that figure in the coming years.
What’s the biggest change that would benefit women in the industry?
I think the stigma of construction needs to be changed, from mucky boots and angry men to the state-of-the-art facilities that are being designed and built, the modern technologies and equipment that we are using and the teams driving the work. We are part of a team building the future, and any person can contribute.
Biggest myth about women working in the industry?
The biggest myth is that women are not able to handle the pressure or the environment. I hope that in the years to come, it will no longer be a surprise to see another woman on site, it will become the norm.