Suriya is a Managing Associate in our Projects, Infrastructure and Construction Team. Suriya reflects on what the International Women's Day theme for 2021, choose to challenge, means to her. She also tells us about the opportunities for women in construction as well as a bit about what she does in her role
What sort of projects do you work on?
The range is pretty wide, which reflects Foot Anstey’s strong client base. If I were to distil the projects into three types, they would be development work (including MMC projects), energy & infrastructure (such as solar energy projects, battery storage/renewables, and utilities), and funder advice on construction matters.
What drives you in your role?
If you have read the Tintin comic book the Seven Crystal Balls, you’ll remember the image of a swirling crystal ball swirling around Professor Calculus. That for me is a visual representation of client-centred problem solving. Each client, each project brings into focus its own peculiarities. Adapting my technical and legal knowledge to truly add value to a client is the fun and fulfilling part of my role and very much what drives me forwards.
What does choose to challenge mean to you?
A great contact recently recommended the book 'Invisible Women', which statistically establishes gender bias. Now we know for a fact it’s there, the question is – what do we do about it? For me choose to challenge is not about pointing out the issues that exist in society, but to attempt to focus on the solutions.
What is the opportunity for women in the construction sector?
There are so many opportunities. The traditional forms of construction are being replaced with modern methods of construction and off-site construction with an increasing use of factory-based approaches. The increasing use of technology in construction, the increase in automation, and pro-innovation developments will only see more women entering the sector.
GoConstruct, an organisation that provides resources for anyone looking for a career in the construction and built environment sector, mentions that women make up around 14% of construction industry professionals and 37% of new entrants into the industry from higher education are women. Statistically these percentages will only go up further. On a personal level, I interact with industry trend-setters in both the public and private sector, and more and more of the key policy and sector drivers I meet are women, so the change is happening.
Do you have a female role model?
My real-life role model is Lady Hale, the former President of the Supreme Court for her remarkable clarity of thought and analysis and achieving what she has achieved with subtle panache. My fictional role model is Leslie Knope, the Deputy Director of the Parks and Recreation Department (from Parks & Recreations) for turning something as mundane as the parks team into comedy delight!
What do you value at Foot Anstey?
Foot Anstey fosters a positive and progressive environment which means a lot to me. The firm thrives through its people and their diversity of thought: it captures, includes and celebrates differences. I see this as a key differentiator and one that I value.