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Does management in the construction industry appeal? Get some great advice from Sarah

Does management in the construction industry appeal? Get some great advice from Sarah

Sarah Ross, National Operations Manager, Form Building & Developments Ltd

What did you want to be when you were 16?
A psychologist

What did you end up doing when you left school?
I just wanted to get on with things so I left halfway through my final year at college and, on my parents' suggestion, did a secretarial administration certificate at Wellington Polytech. This led me to a receptionists job within the marketing department of New Zealand Post in Wellington and from there I quickly moved up to a personal assistant role for two of the company’s general managers.

Describe a day in your life at work:
My job at Form is to identify and/or implement improvements in our business processes that promote productivity and efficiency for our people and the business overall. I run multiple small projects at any given time in the areas of IT, administration and internal business operations. I work closely with our Managing Director on communication and people initiatives – he and I have a shared passion for our wonderful team in each of our three offices. We are always thinking about how we can get the maximum level of engagement from our team in Form’s vision and mission for the future. We want them to turn up to work because they are motivated to be part of something bigger than just doing their job. We want them to know they are valued and, of course, we want them to have fun! 

Why do you love your job/career?
My role at Form allows me to work to my strengths and keeps me constantly challenged. I love and respect the people I work with, the company and what it stands for. I cannot remember a day that I didn’t feel excited about coming to work! I have two young girls and work full time so it matters hugely to me also that my stress levels are manageable, I can work from home whenever I need to and I have the utmost flexibility to be available for my girls when they have a special event on at school.

How did you get into your career?
I did not actively seek out this career – it evolved naturally as a result of being self-motivated, determined and hard working. Plus I have had unwavering support from our directors here at Form. I strive every day to be a little bit better than I was yesterday and believe that if you work with this attitude, you can’t help but move forward. I’m proud of my career to date and believe it has taken this shape in part due to my strengths. When you know what you’re naturally good at (and you can work this out by looking back on your life to date) you have the power to build a career that is exceptionally gratifying.

What qualifications did you study?
I have a degree in Marketing and Events Management and a certificate in Secretarial Administration gained through tertiary institutes. Whilst working I’ve also done some accounting study, multiple software training's and have completed various management and leadership workshops.

Do you have any advice for getting into your sector?
The construction industry is heavy on the masculine side so you need to be able to have a laugh, not be too precious and leave any moods at home! The beauty of the work I do is that it’s cross transferable into many other industries which can be a real advantage. Having said that, I do believe there is merit in specialising, whether that be the industry in which you work or the line of administration support you choose i.e. accounting, HR, IT, office management etc. I believe that being a ‘jack of all trades’ is not as lucrative as being a specialist in one or two areas.

What do you wish you had done differently?
I still wish I had done a psychology degree at uni when I left school. I know I would’ve loved it as I had a passion for understanding why we do what we do, from a really young age. It would’ve served me well in business also. At the time I was making the choice about my future, I was done with school/study and I had no motivation to do a further four+ years of study at uni, hence I chose what was essentially an easier option. Having said that, it’s likely I wouldn’t have ended up doing what I do for Form and this job fulfils me in so many ways.

What would you say to your teenage self about defining your future?
Enhance your gifts and manage your weaknesses. Look inwards - look back on your life and talk to people who are close to you to discover your inherent gifts because using these as a basis for your chosen career will make it more rewarding and lucrative. Getting paid to do what you love is the best case scenario. Study while it’s easy to do so (I believe straight from school is best) and work hard while you can. 

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