Breaking a century of tradition
Skills 4 UK provides Balfour Beatty with a Career Development Programme designed to help women further their careers.
Olu Olabode took part in the course on December 6 & 7, 2016 and January 26, 2017.
The course offered tips about body language, how to position yourself in meetings and presentations and included invaluable reading materials.
The Skills 4 training uses real life scenarios, which are simply explained and easy to apply to your everyday role.
When Olu had the opportunity to become the first female to hold the position of Commercial Director following 100 years’-worth of men, she had serious doubts as to whether she could do the role.
Despite an impressive track record in the rail industry, the chance to move to highways left her questioning her own abilities but now she is leading a team of 30 and credits the Skills 4 Career Development Programme for giving her the confidence to believe in herself and the tools to achieve her goals.
It was while in her role as a Senior Commercial Manager in Balfour Beatty that Olu came across the course which made her determined to help other women develop their careers.
I had been with Balfour Beatty for nine years and as I was going through a management development profile I realised I had hit the ceiling in my current role,” she said. “I was recommended for the Career Development Programme. It gave me loads of confidence and set me on course to be able to withstand and tackle the day to day challenges of my role.”
The course gave her the opportunity to share real-life examples with other women from the company, many of whom she had never met before, as well as hearing from external speakers was thought-provoking and inspiring.
“I remember one talk where a female police officer who had been involved in an accident and suffered brain injuries went on to become a professor,” she says.
“The training taught me how it is not necessary to be aggressive to get your point over but to remain cool, calm and collected.
“And it was not just about the trainers – listening to the experiences of others in the room on how they dealt with challenges in the workplace was a key learning point.”
Olu and her fellow delegates keep in touch via email and through social media, regularly communicating with and supporting each other, sharing how the techniques on the course had been applied in the workplace.
The Career Development Programme came at the perfect time for Olu. Having agreed with her manager it was time to move on, she began day one of the training with four separate career options – two internal and two external promotion opportunities.
“During the first workshop when we were looking at our own situations, I gained the confidence and self-belief to go for my current role with Connect Plus Services,” she said. “As the training went on, I was able to negotiate the package I wanted.”
Connect Plus Services brings together the collective strength and expertise of its parent companies Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Egis Road Operation UK.
The joint venture incorporates construction, design, maintenance and operations capabilities and Olu is enjoying her new role.
“There are quite a few challenges for women with careers in construction where barriers stop them from climbing the ladder,” said Olu.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to undertake the course. It has given me so much more confidence.”