Vicky Hutchinson is the National Frameworks Social Responsiblity Manager at ISG.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
ISG is the first contractor I’ve worked for and my route was far from direct. I never sat down and planned my career, leaving school I had no idea what kind of jobs where out there. I went straight to university to study Management Science BSc (Hons) and stayed there to do a PhD and various research jobs looking at the construction industry.
I find the industry so inspirational. Being part of a construction project is so fascinating. One day you have a bare piece of land or a dilapidated building, and by the end you have a building that is making a difference to a community and to the people who use it. It’s so rewarding to be part of that.
Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?
The biggest challenge I have encountered in my career was having a baby. Then comes the constant balancing of work and home life. I’m lucky to work somewhere that helps people manage their careers with their responsibilities at home. The construction sector has been very accommodating of me having a family.
ISG is a really positive place to work, especially due to its ‘family friendly policy’, where people can work flexibly to meet their responsibilities outside of work. For me that happens to be having a family. Don’t get me wrong, people work hard in construction and can have long days – but working one day a week from home helps me manage my workload with family and childcare.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?
The focus shouldn’t necessarily be on moving into a leadership position, it should be on what value you can bring to your business. Then leadership will follow naturally.
A big learning for me was having the confidence to let go of something and let others take it on. As a leader you need to have faith in your team, and realise that the people you work with often have more specialist knowledge and expertise than you. It’s your job to maximise these collective skills for the benefit of the business, whilst bringing your individual leadership qualities to the table.
When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?
Candidates may be equally qualified on paper, but I find that people always differ in their experience or personal qualities. It’s important these days to be able to present your personal qualities and qualifications well.
At ISG, we are a dynamic company so we look for dynamic candidates. We look for the best person to fit into the culture of our company or who can fulfil a specific skills gap in our team.
How do you manage your own boss?
It can be difficult managing upwards in a busy team, especially when everyone is tight for time. I have learnt the importance of being able to drive projects independently, having the initiative and confidence to make key decisions and importantly knowing when to ask for assistance from the senior team.
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
Every day for me is different, which is why I love my job. Once I’ve sorted out childcare in the morning and got to work, my days really vary. One of the great things about construction is you can be working on a building site one day, in client meetings on another or in the office with my team the next. I really enjoy having a change of scene and variety in my role, and that’s something the construction industry is great at providing.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?
I was encouraged to apply for awards on behalf of my team. That really helped promote the work we were doing and our profile grew outside of the business as well as within. Part of my role at ISG is stakeholder engagement, so this profiles our work with everyone from local authorities to industry colleagues.
I also have close ties with ISG’s communications team and this close collaboration has proved invaluable in our wider objectives of getting more young people interested and engaged in the construction industry. It’s easy to forget that the work we do is often highly newsworthy and can help our overall objectives, so my advice would always be to share the good work that you do with your communications colleagues.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
Never stop learning is one of ISG’s core values and I firmly believe that mentoring and lifelong learning in general makes you a more rounded and insightful individual, more alert to opportunities and able to maximise the value of your teams.
Do you think networking is important and if so, what three tips would you give to a newbee networker?
Networking is definitely a useful skill to have. It has helped advance my own career and my teams’, whether it be through recruitment or profile raising.
My first piece of advice is to be clear about what you want to get out of networking. When I started, I was going to events where attendees were looking for sales, but I wasn’t in a role where I could make those decisions. It’s important to pick the right events for your needs.
It’s also a good idea to network with someone. I developed a technique where I would find someone I didn’t already know at an event, and after speaking with that person for a while I would invite them to come and talk to others with me. Networking events can be daunting when you start out, so if you team up it can really take the pressure out of the situation.
What does the future hold for you?
I can honestly say I don’t have a grand plan for the future. I tend to focus on things I can do better,any skills I haven’t explored yet and always look for new challenges. I’ve never been envious of other people’s jobs, I’m competitive with myself rather than others. I’m happy at ISG, I’m committed and settled, and am supported to grow as a professional.
It’s always good to have an idea of the direction you want to go in, but you don’t necessarily need a five, 10 or 15-year plan to be successful!