Emma Cain -Stay true to yourself, Authenticity always wins!

In this #YesSheCan blog we speak to Emma Cain, a General Operative. She talks to us about her varied career journey, the women who inspire her and overcoming barriers and setbacks.

Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:

My name is Emma, I am 32 years of age and have been working for Tarmac since March 2019. Myself and my partner are orignally from Essex but took the decision to move to Kent where we have now been living since February 2018. I worked within adult social services for 10 years as a support planner then moved to Kent in 2019 and worked within the childrens social work team for just over a year. 

I felt my time in social work had come to an end as I was unable to progress with a career and therefore went for the job at Tarmac as a weighbridge operative. I was extremely nervous to go for a job within a male dominated industry but this also made me fight for the job that little bit more. 

My aim is to progress with my career within the operations side of the buisness and work towards site supervisor and eventually Quarry manager.

A typical day in your career:

Typical day in the life of an operative will be to make sure our washed plant and building plant are kept clean, this will include washing down the plant to make sure any spillage is cleared or if there is a large spilleage we will hand shovel the spillage. Maintenace will be done when required such as changing rollers on our belt or changing piano wires which are in our screener. A lot of the work we do is manual.

I have my loading shovel licence which I passed September 2021, this was a huge achievement for myself, I am one of the only women within operations who has my shovel ticket. Having my shovel ticket allows me to load lorries with material to customers and also load our screener which is located in our quarry to put material through the plant.

What made you choose this career/industry?

My partner works for Tarmac and recommended I went for the job as he could see working within social services was becoming difficult. I suffer from clinical depression so working within childrens social services had its challenges which I found extremely difficult sometimes resulting in long term sickness.

Going for the job as weighbrige operative was one of the best decisions I have ever made and feel it is a company I will work within for a long time. 

How did you get to where you are now and did you face any challenges along the way?

I have completed training but mainly shadowing my colleagues to learn what I have. I have had several comments made when it come to wanting to do my shovel licence such as “you will need bricks on your feet”, “the tyre is bigger than you”. I am 5ft1 so I am small compared to some people but I don’t allow this to stop me doing anything. A couple of eyes have also rolled when I originally mentioned wanting to drive the loading shovel but since passing my ticket and proving to everyone a women can drive a shovel just as good as a man can I havent had much negativity around the subject infact a lot of my regular drivers are very happy to see how I have progressed since working in the weighbridge. 

If any, can you tell us more about how you overcame those setbacks?

When I was getting some negative comments I would laugh it off, sometimes I would doubt myself but once I had thought about the comment again and the path I want to take with regards to my career It made me determinted to prove others wrong. 

What is an important initiative that you feel passionate about in your role?

Being one of the only females working within operations out on site is something that I am extremely proud about it makes me want to succeed and prove that women can also do what the men do when out on site and it shouldn’t be known as a mans world. 

What do you think gave you the drive and determination to succeed?

My daughter has given me a lot of drive and determination to succeed because I want to show her and other young women that you can achieve whatever you want in life. Don’t allow the fact that construction is known as a mans world but use that as something to empower you to show them times are changing. 

What’s great about being a female in your role?

It is giving me the opportunity to show that women can also work within construction. I have a lot of respect from my colleagues who encourage me to succeed in what im doing. 

What is your biggest achievement in life?

The biggest achievment in my life is going through IVF with my partner and having a beautiful baby girl. Our daughter was born May 2020 during lockdown. Having a baby is one of the most exciting times of your life. Sadly with lockdown in place my partner and I missed out on so much support but looking back I feel we have done the most amazing job as parents. Being a parent isnt something that you can be given directions on, you have to learn each day and believe we have shown our daughter the right path in life so far and excited to see what her future holds. 

What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?

The biggest lesson I have learnt in life is never give up, never let anyone tell you that you cant do something and always believe in yourself. If you believe in yourself and ignore the negativity around you then you will go a long way in life. 

Have you ever felt that your gender has brought unnecessary challenges to your career?

Within the construction industry your uniform is hivis orange PPE, when going to the shops on lunch or after work I am often stared at because it is unsual to see a women wearing what I do on a daily basis. I am often covered in dirt or grease which again is unusual to see but that’s only because not many women work within the construction industry so believe that’s the reason why I do get looked at how I do. 

I was once asked if I was wearing my partners clothes because of the lack of understanding around women in construction.

Outside your work, what are your favourite hobbies and pastimes?

Horse riding is one of my favoriute things to do, since becoming a full time working mum sadly this isnt something I have been able to continue with. I also enjoy playing golf, this was a hobby I used to enjoy with my dad when I was younger.

I am also a fully trained beautician and a makeup artist, I love to make women feel and look amazing. I tend do do weddings etc in my spare time. 

Do you have a mantra you live your life by? 

 “To hesitate is to lose an opportunity” 

What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?

Have Confidence 

Believe in yourself

Don’t allow anyone to treat you any different 

What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given

Believe in yourself and ignore any negative comments when it comes to working within the constrcition buisness. 

Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?

My mum, she is the most strongest women I have ever met. My mum has faced a lot of challenges in her life one of them being she couldn’t naturally have children which resulted in herself and my dad adopting my brother and I. Going through adoption is one of the most difficult times of a couples life, it is a extremely difficult journey but shows that them parents really want a child of their own. My mum isnt just my mum shes my best friend, we are extremely close and since having my daughter we have become even closer which I didn’t even think was possible. The relationship between my mum and daughter is unbreakable and I cherish every moment they have together. My mum has always taught me right from wrong, even in her darkest days she has remained strong for her children which has taught me that no matter what life throws at you or the heartache you face you will always come out stronger. Never allow anyone to put you down or make you feel worthless because the person trying to do that is just weak. 

What are your key motivators? 

Making my daughter and family proud 

Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance?

Tarmac are working extremely hard with regards to women working within construction and supporting with improving facilies on site etc.

It’s hard to say that entrenched attitudes are changing as quickly, in other sectors. There is a change, but it needs to be quicker if we are to exploit the true potential of women in business

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

Use killer logic:

A report published by Credit Suisse in 2016 said companies with at least one woman director received a better return on their investments compared with companies with all-male boardrooms, and companies where women made up at least 15% of senior management were 50% more profitable than those where fewer than 10% of senior managers were female.

Use emotion: 

Having a more gender-diverse company is more representative of the ‘real world’ than a company in which women only make up a small percentage of leadership roles

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

I have said it in the past and will continue to say it, women are just as capable as men. As long as you want to succeed then there are proven advantage in women becoming leaders just as much as males. 

Of course you’ll meet some opposition from bigots, but you have to learn tactics for avoiding those types. 

Stay true to yourself – authenticity always wins the day

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

Team work is key, there is no I in team and respect for others is key, without respect you wont have a good relationship with your team members which will put obsticles in the way of you being a team leader.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Very few things are as they seem. Someone angry may just have had bad news; someone sulky may actually be sad. We can’t know everything that’s going on is other people’s worlds

What would you say to your 16-year-old self?

However bleak and desperate things may look – they will pass. Don’t hesitate when something needs to be done and don’t worry about something which can’t be changed

Describe what feminism is to you.

It represents a mindset that women are not ‘lesser humans’ and in a business context, it’s a framework for promoting the benefits that women bring to any organisation.

If there is anything you could do differently – What would this be?

I would challenge ingrained attitudes and prejudices because challening my own beliefs has led to new opportunities opening up.

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