Over the course of the year, Knauf will be speaking to women across the business as part of a Women in Construction series. To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day (23 June), Vickie Mwanza, Production Director at Knauf UK’s Immingham Plant, discusses her role and how Knauf is helping encourage more women to join the industry.
I joined Knauf in December 2018. Although I’ve not been here long, I have found my job really exciting and very engaging - there is a great wealth of products and systems to learn. I’ve been impressed with the breadth of applications for Knauf products – not just for houses, but for schools and hospitals too. It’s great to see how the work I do influences the world around me.
I currently lead a team of 130 highly skilled individuals and have full responsibility for the Immingham site. At the site we manufacture over 50 different types of drywall products, and strive to ensure they are all manufactured to a consistently high standard and dispatched on time. My role as a leader in the team has a number of responsibilities, however for me, safety is always my number one priority each day. Everyone has the right to be safe at work so that’s an essential part of my role.
I previously worked in the medical industry overseeing the production of medical devices. Although medical devices and construction might seem like two very different sectors, a lot of the technology and manufacturing processes are similar so there was a lot of skills and experience which are transferable to my new role.
Construction is a growing sector and there is a lot of new technology coming through which is really exciting. I was inspired to join Knauf in particular because of the excellent benefits package available to staff.
Although I have lots still to learn, it really helps that there is a very strong and supportive team at Knauf. If there is something I don’t know, all of my colleagues are patient and help me to constantly learn new things – there’s a great team philosophy here.
2019 has been very positive so far, but I’m not going to sit back and relax. I want Immingham to be the best performing plant in the Knauf family across all measures: the most efficient, the highest productivity, the highest quality, most financially viable.
It’s disappointing young women don’t always think a career in construction is for them because things are a lot different from what they used to be. At Immingham, we have women employed in all levels of the business, demonstrating that there is no such thing as “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs”. Knauf is a very inclusive employer: it doesn’t matter your gender, sexuality or ethnic background – everyone is welcome here as long as they come in with a positive attitude and work hard.
Knauf is determined to encourage highly-skilled positive people into the industry regardless of their gender. This is important as construction recently dropped out of the top ten careers for people in their twenties for the first time ever. I think the key to getting more women into construction is by taking the time to go into schools and attend careers fairs in order that young people understand the roles are available in the sector for them.
It’s important to have a voice as a woman in construction and ensure young women understand there is diversity in the industry. At the end of the day, it is not your gender that matters, but what you achieve that counts.