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We talk Hard Hats and high heels with Metro Rods very own Jean O’Brien

6th March 2020

We talk Hard Hats and high heels with Metro Rods very own Jean O’Brien

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In Celebration of Women in Construction Week (March 1-7, 2020) we thought that we would chat to our very own Woman in construction Norwich Franchise Owner Jean O’Brien.

Jean started Metro Rod Norwich with husband Shaun in 2001 and has since then growen into one of Metro Rod’s most successful franchises. Building a business within a busy family life has been a challenge, but Jean and Shaun have prospered and have created 23 jobs within the local community.

Q: What lead you to start working in the construction industry?

I started working in construction after leaving a career in the Motor Industry and relocating from London to Norfolk in 2000.

With an invested focus in service delivery, I recognised that my experience in the Motor Industry could be well lent to the Construction Industry and that with the right team and my management and service delivery skills we could provide a service that was not commonly found in construction.

Q: What are some of the factors that you think are most challenging as a woman in the industry?

Without wanting to sound all PC, equality and diversity within the Construction industry did not seem as present as it did in other industry sectors for a long time. In this male orientated industry it was easy to be judged, however I used this to my advantage and made sure I was well versed and trained in my business sector to make sure that I was as educated about the technical side of the business as anyone else. I am constantly challenged by not having any physical experience in my field but over the years have learnt that this is not a leading factor in my ability. With the right team working for me who are experts in their own right, I am able to focus on my own area of expertise – service delivery and management. Over the years I have earned the respect of fellow colleagues and clients.

Q: What has kept you motivated in such a challenging industry?

I am a natural achiever so success is my motivation. I am motivated seeing the business grow from strength to strength.

Q: What advice do you have for other women looking to break into the industry?

My advice would be to never doubt yourself!
I have an attitude of “if there’s a will, there’s a way” and that is passed onto those who work around me. there are many times when I have to spend more time thinking about how I will tackle a challenge, than the time it actually take to do once I have a plan.
Do what you are good at and be intelligent enough to know when you need help.
No one ever gets wrong for asking a question, although they do for not asking and getting it wrong. You will be surprised at how many people are willing to offer advice from their experience.
I do not see myself as a “woman” in the construction industry, just another person making a career in what I enjoy. I hope that I am not seen as a “woman” in the construction industry, just someone who is good at their job!

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