100 for 100 series: Amy Thompson | Wates

Equality of opportunity for everyone is essential for businesses to thrive. For 2019 International Woman’s Day, Amy Thompson shares what #balanceforbetter means to her.

Amy Thompson - HR Director, Wates Construction

Introduce yourself for us
I have worked within HR for 16 years. My first role for Surrey Police, the public sector, gave me a great grounding in HR policy and procedure and is where I completed my Institute of Personnel and Development Chartership. I have since then grown my career through roles within the private sector expanding over the construction, engineering and utilities sectors. During my different roles I have been lucky enough to experience a number of projects including graduate recruitment & development, harmonisation of terms and conditions, HR systems implementation, diversity & inclusion and developing a HR Shared Service function.
Working a flexible pattern allows me to spend quality time with my two children who are 6 and 5 years old. We like to spend time riding our bikes and playing different kinds of sport. The best time of the week is movie night at the weekend when we snuggle up with popcorn and other treats.

How long have you been in your current role?
I am the HR Director for the Construction and Residential North businesses within Wates and have been in my current role just under two years although I have been with Wates just over 4 years previously heading up the HR Shared Service function.

What brought you to Wates?
On returning from working in the Middle East and following the birth of my second child, I was looking for a new challenge within an organisation which demonstrated strong family values and one who would support my career development and my family commitments.

What advice would you give to women entering the industry?
Be tenacious and resilient. It may feel you have to work harder to be taken seriously but it’s worth doing and if women end up outperforming their male counterparts then this is no bad thing.

Finding support at home – having a good support network is vital if you have children so that you can balance your career with raising them. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help- ultimately in the scope of your career it’s a relatively short phase and studies show that children of working mothers are more resilient. So don’t feel guilty!

Stop apologising. It is something many of us do without thinking and women in particular. You deserve to be here – constantly saying ‘sorry to bother you ‘ or ‘sorry but can I just say… ‘ shows a lack of confidence. Don’t do it! You have every right to speak and be heard, on the phone, in a meeting, or on site.

Who are your role models?
Margaret Hamilton – Coded the software for apollo 11. Margaret juggled a successful career and had a family.

Emmeline Pankhurst – British political activist and leader of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote.

Winston Churchill – His talent for inspirational speeches kept the British population going through these bleak years, with his never-say-die attitude spreading throughout the nation like wildfire: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Richard Branson – Didn’t let the fact that he struggled in school get him down, and dedicated himself to becoming a self made entrepreneur at just 17 years of age. Proving that drive and determination are just as important as any other attribute or qualification

My Mum – Who as a single mum, retrained as a teacher and bought her own house. She was financially independent from that moment on.

Tell us something unusual about you

I get grumpy when I am hungry! On a more serious note, I have been fortunate enough to live both in Canada and the Middle East for a period of time and I believe this has helped support my career and the way in which I have managed the teams that have worked with me. I value strong team working and believe that demonstrating the right behaviours leads to success.

What changes would you like to see in 100 years time?

In 100 years I’d like women to be able to make their contribution across all industries like it’s no big deal. I want it to become the norm not a box ticking exercise. The women who excel can then be celebrated for excelling and not simply for surviving in a male dominated industry. So much of the world is designed by men – I would love to see what the world will look like in 100 years time now that more and more women are forging new paths as engineers, construction workers and architects. It’s exciting to be a part of it.

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