Surveying the options: How I forged a fulfilling career in construction
- Credit: Elisha Keay
Construction offers rewarding careers for everyone. Engineering surveyor Elisha Keay explains how she got into the business.
A new generation of women are exploring the rich opportunities offered by the construction sector – one of the few industries that has proved resilient in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
One of those individuals is Elisha Keay. At the age of 26, Elisha is an engineering surveyor with K Survey, a family business started by her father.
“When I was growing up, the fact that my dad was always working on-site made me realise that I didn’t want to be in an office all the time,” Elisha says. “I have always been very hands-on, I love maths and being outside, so I was interested in a career in construction from a young age.”
Due to her mathematical aptitude, Elisha was enrolled in the gifted and talented program at school, which meant she had the opportunity to study for a National Diploma in Construction and Built Environment at Norwich City College while completing her GCSEs, qualifying at the age of 16.
Afterwards Elisha gained on-site experience as a chainperson on Southwold Harbour, followed by a stint as assistant land surveyor on the A11. Employer Balfour Beatty offered to take her on as an engineer and support her through a Higher National Diploma programme.
But Elisha’s career was disrupted when she suddenly fell ill.
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“I ended up in hospital, so I didn’t complete the diploma. The doctors thought it was my appendix, but actually I had cysts that ruptured.”
Elisha has since been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. Despite this setback, Elisha continued her career and today is fully qualified with a Pro Qual Level 3 Diploma in Engineering Surveying.
There is a sense of satisfaction and creativity involved in the challenges of her job that keep it interesting, Elisha says.
“I have desk work to do, but I also like to be out on-site and am willing to graft and get stuck in. It is physical work as well as mental, so the mix is perfect for me.
“After my dad retires, I will continue to carry the torch for K Survey,” Elisha explains. “In the future I like the idea of becoming a forewoman, supervising and directing other workers.”
For women considering a career in construction, Elisha has some advice.
“The only limitation is the limitation you put on yourself,” she says. “If you decide you want to work in construction, go for it!”
Join the workshop
Are you a woman interested in a career in construction and based in Norwich, Great Yarmouth, Acle and Wymondham? Enroll in a fortnightly workshop commencing February 1 and a four-week training programme commencing June 7 to start building your career.
For more information, please contact Steph Sheppard at Women into Construction at email@example.com
This page is sponsored by Lovell Partnerships and Morgan Sindall Construction, in association with Women into Construction, Sizewell C, the Department of Work & Pensions, East Coast College, Clarion Futures and Labour Desk.