Interview with…Elaine Smith, Knauf UK Product Manager
Over the course of the year, Knauf will be speaking to women across the business as part of a Women in Construction series. The next blog in the series comes from Elaine Smith, a Knauf UK Product Manager.
I joined Knauf a year ago and I have not regretted the decision. I decided to join, because even though Knauf is a large multinational organisation, there is still very much a family-run feeling to the business. The Company Values – Menschlichkeit (often described as humanity), Partnership, Commitment and Entrepreneurship are very much a key driver for how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
Knauf is a great company to work for – they treat their staff really well and our wellbeing is paramount. For example, we have a “distraction free” driving policy and are in the process of training Mental Health first aiders throughout the Company – Safety is the foundation on which we build business.
My role as a Product Manager is incredibly varied and no two days ever look the same. I could be meeting contractors at our Clerkenwell showroom on a Monday and by Friday, I’ve visited customers; managed internal stakeholders for various projects; inspected product for quality assurance; worked with suppliers regarding technical data and developed literature for a new product launch with the Communications Team. The role of Product Manager is ever changing and adapting to whatever the market needs.
Being a global company, I think we should look to follow the model of Nordic countries (which have a much higher proportion of women) to increase the number of women in the UK construction industry. Long gone are the stereotypes that women don’t belong in the construction industry and it’s essential we ensure that we future proof the next generation at an earlier age. We need to show young girls that construction is an ideal industry for women to develop their careers.
I have worked closely with Construction Industry Training Board (CITB is the main awarding body within the construction industry) to get Knauf’s Training Schools accredited after we identified there is a skill shortage as well as an aging workforce. All Knauf courses are now CITB accredited which will help address these problems and even better, the team we worked with at CITB was an all-women team!
This year, there will be two new product range launches in my department; one of which is something completely new to the Knauf portfolio. The ambition is for it to be well received within the industry and the customers we service to feel we cater to all. It will be a lot of work, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to!
To view the other blogs in the Women in Construction series, please visit the new Knauf website: www.knauf.co.uk