Ruth Shepherd, Chair
Director of Results Communications Ltd, Ruth is a communications consultant with over 20 years’ experience, the last ten of which has been in the construction industry. She has worked in a range of roles with different companies within the sector within the industry, including one of the North East’s largest RP/Developer organisations, a top-track 250 construction company which is now the southern arm of a national business, and since 2008 working with public and private sector clients through Results Communications.
Ruth has worked throughout the UK, delivering stakeholder engagement and communications/marketing services to employers and clients from competition-concept to completion, with projects ranging from a £5million hospice redevelopment to a £120million energy centre. Successes for clients include successful conversion of engagement with stakeholders to planning approvals, a £6.77million HCA grant funding application for a RP client, and delivery of borough-wide engagement with service-users to measure the impact of investment works. Her business is multi-sector, with commissions within the Housing, Education, Health, Energy, Industrial, Retail and Leisure sectors.
Ruth is happiest when she’s talking to people; to clients about their projects; to civic leaders and stakeholders about the role they can play to help bring a development proposal to completion; and to communities and the media about clients’ projects and the benefits they can bring to the communities they are regenerating and investing in.
Ruth joined NAWIC in 2013 and is looking forward to working with other committee members to continue to grow this region’s membership, support for careers in construction and activities.
Ruth is also involved with the North East of England Chamber of Commerce’s activities within development, housing and infrastructure, as well as its Women’s Advisory Board which works to promote the achievements of women in business. She is also one of the North East of England LEP’s Enterprise Advisors, working with an independent day school for girls to promote good careers options at all stages of education.
I joined NAWIC because I don’t believe anyone should have a barrier to succeeding in their chosen career, and love being part of the construction industry recognising the wealth of talent that exists among our female colleagues. .
Samantha Curtis, Joint Deputy Chair
Samantha is a chartered Planning and Development Surveyor (RICS) working as a Senior Planning Consultant for Cundall. She has worked for Cundall for over 3 years and is based in their Head office in Newcastle following a stint in their Sydney office in 2015.
She has been involved in a range of projects during her career as a planning consultant, including a £12million visitor centre in the Northumberland National Park, several residential developments in Northumberland and several high profile regeneration projects across Sunderland and Newcastle.
Prior to her career as a planning consultant, she worked as a Residential Agent for three years.
She is also a guest lecturer at Northumbria University, where she has lectured the Planning and Development Students on topics which include ‘Developing sites in sensitive locations’ and ‘The EIA process in practice’.
Samantha also sits on the RICS Matrics Committee, where she has been an active committee member since 2013.
She has been attending NAWIC events since starting her career in planning and development and is delighted to have been elected as Co-Vice Chair of the North East Committee. .
NAWIC plays such an important role for women in construction and I am proud to be a part of the new management team that will help women reach their full potential in the industry.
Francesca Madden, Joint Deputy Chair
Framework Coordinator for Esh Construction, Francesca graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a degree in Public Relations. In 2013, Francesca joined the Institute of Water as Marketing & Communications Assistant – the only professional body solely dedicated to supporting the careers of people working in the UK Water Industry.
Francesca currently sits on the North East WaterAid Committee, which she joined after completing Trek Ethiopia - a sponsored trek through the Simien Mountains to witness first-hand how WaterAid has changed the lives of a community living in Chinkura, Ethiopia.
In 2015, Francesca was employed by Esh Group, a leading Construction Company in Northern England. During her time as Marketing Assistant, Francesca was responsible for writing award submissions, coordinating PR activities and managing corporate events.
In Francesca’s current role as Framework Coordinator, she is responsible for the coordination of many initiatives undertaken by Esh Construction and Esh-MWH on their Northumbrian Water and Environment Agency Frameworks. The role involves engaging with both internal and external stakeholders, alongside key client management to ensure that Community based programmes, KPI’s and framework wide initiatives are undertaken.
‘I’m very proud to be part of the NAWIC North East committee and I hope that together we can inspire and encourage more women to consider a career in Construction.’
Bal Manak, Membership and Database Manager
I am a solicitor working in the construction and engineering department at Watson Burton. I have over 10 years’ experience in advising developers, contractors, consultants and funders on construction contracts. I am largely responsible for drafting, reviewing and negotiating building contracts, professional appointments, warranties and other security documentation in favour of third parties. I also advise clients on risk avoidance and dispute resolution.
I have been a committee member of NAWIC NE from the beginning and work alongside the other committee members to help promote women working in the construction industry. I have also provided CPD seminars for NAWIC, advising on construction legislation and principles of construction contracts as well as advertising events and promoting the organisation on social media websites.
Being in construction, I think it's important to move away from the misconception that it is a male-dominated industry. Therefore it's important to support and recognise the efforts of those working in the industry and support the younger generation looking for careers in construction. I enjoy getting to meet a diverse range of people and working to raise awareness of the organisation.
Jessica Newton, Student Support
I am a student Architect, currently undergoing my Part 3 studies. I work for The Jesmond Group Architectural practice in Newcastle, and have been doing since graduating from my undergraduate degree at Newcastle University in 2008. I completed my Masters in Architecture at Sheffield Hallam University, whilst working in practice. This has broadened my knowledge of construction in the real world.
In addition, because The Jesmond Group is only a small practice, I have had a key role in several projects, throughout their different stages and so my knowledge of the projects is crucial for ensuring their effective progress, for which I have an important input in.
Due to my length of employment, I am responsible for maintaining the organisation of how drawings are produced, distributed and recorded. My organisational skills are also required as my role of CPD Co-ordinator.
I generally use AutoCAD on a daily basis, but I am also very familiar with using SketchUp, Photoshop and Indesign. My initial skills developed whilst working in practice, but were enhanced whilst at University.
When I heard about the organisation I decided that it would be a great organisation to become involved with, given that the male dominance within the construction industry. Plus, I also thought it would be an interesting and enjoyable way to network with the many other professions of the construction industry. In life, I am always keen to help out where I can, so it made sense for me to take on a role on the committee.
Sarah Dodds, PR & Marketing
‘Fit for Employment’ was an innovative work experience programme created by Esh Group in 2003. I was included in one of the first intakes, which provided Year 11 GCSE students with work experience in the Construction sector. After working in various different departments including Reception and training to become a Quantity Surveyor, I decided to pursue a career in Marketing.
I’ve been Marketing Manager at Esh Group since 2012, responsible for the overall management of the Marketing department and the delivery of Esh Group’s marketing strategy. I have full control over the group’s website, social media and branding as well as designing all company documentation, brochures and flyers. I also have extensive experience in event planning and management including corporate dinners, sporting events and exhibitions.
I joined the NAWIC Committee as the Construction Industry is facing a gap between the numbers of skilled workers it requires, those available and especially women. Esh Group is working hard to address these issues and fully supports my involvement with the NAWIC Committee.