International Women's Day

International Women's Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we interviewed our boss Jayne Arkell, on her rise from temp to Country Manager.

Jayne started as a temp at Marley Building Materials in 1998 (before it became Etex Group). After graduating from university and a brief stint in London Jayne returned to Marley as PR Officer, her first full time role. Today Jayne oversees three market leading Exteriors brands: EQUITONE, Cedral Facades and Roofs, and Eternit; all with very different client bases.

You started in PR, had some time in sales, what other teams have you worked in?

I joined as PR Officer (didn't like it) and quickly moved into a marketing support role, managing a paving contractors’ scheme. Marley then paid for me to complete my CIM diploma after which I spent several years in marketing moving from campaign management to channel management and then product management. My next move was into sales management, which I was much better suited to. I led the Cedral Sidings team for 4 years and then the EQUITONE team for 18 months before applying and successfully getting the Country Manager role for Etex Exteriors.

The construction industry is traditionally very male dominated - how can it attract more female talent?

For me it starts with school education, at many of the secondary school career fairs you will see universities and colleges present however there remains a stereotypical bias with how they promote their course through promotional collateral. There are some fantastic construction industry apprenticeship schemes today that encourage both male and female candidates however you will tend to only see these at schools or colleges that specialise in these subjects. There should be more exposure in all secondary schools.

Has the construction industry changed much since you started?

The move to modular / off-site construction has accelerated over the last 10 years. H&S has made a real step forward, and every employer should take action to ensure their employees are safe during their time at work. Construction sites and distributors are high risk environments and I have seen some very unsafe practices. It is very reassuring to see marked changes over the last few years.

What has been your proudest work achievement?

For me the recent challenge of taking up the role of Country Manager just at the time of the divisional split within Marley Eternit and creating the new organisation Etex (Exteriors) UK Ltd. This was a huge achievement that could not have been as successful as it has been without the employees that work here. I am extremely proud to be leading a dedicated and driven team that always goes the extra mile to achieve success in everything they do. It has not been easy as we have had many obstacles thrown at us in our first year as Etex (Exteriors) UK Ltd, the foundations are now in place to achieve profitable growth as we move forward.

Is there anything you wish you had done differently in your career?

The simple answer is no. I didn’t set out to be a Country Manager within a building materials manufacturer and I am delighted at where my path has led me, however this is not the end of the path.

Has anyone given you advice that has shaped your career?

My Mother is an inspiration, she would never let obstacles get in the way of doing what she wanted to do, her mantra was 'whatever you want in life you have to go and get it, nothing is going to land on your plate, be courageous and step outside your comfort zone you will find it very rewarding'.

Are there any leaders / people in leadership roles that inspire you?

I find women who have made a name for themselves in male dominated industries inspirational, such as Karen Brady. I know I might be biased but I find Michael Fenlon (Head of Division, Etex) very inspiring, he has a different approach to the other ExCom members and senior managers. He is extremely personable and will make time to get to know any new employee he meets, regardless of the position they hold.

In your experience is the work / life balance a myth?

Family is extremely important, so make time for them. I have been a working mother since my children were babies, so I try to keep work and life separate. I am quite good at switching off once the workday is done and leaving any issues at work. Sometimes there is a need to work outside of working hours, if this is the case then I will aim to do this when the family is not around so that I am not imposing on their time. I also take advantage of being away with work and will use my time wisely at airports and on the plane etc. (readers take note: if you work for Jayne, the 4am airport email from her is not unusual!)

What are the biggest challenges for you and Etex (Exteriors) over the next couple of years?

Delivering our purpose through our 3 big moves; employee engagement, customer experience and innovation. For me the biggest focus should be with our employees, I have a desire for everyone to understand their contribution and value to the business. Having engaged employees will enable us to achieve our results and successes more easily.

What advice would you give to someone working at mid-level management who is aiming to work in a senior leadership role?

Understand the roles and responsibilities of a senior leadership role as these can be very different from mid-level management. If this is still your aim then market yourself, raise your hand, get involved, take action and don’t try to be the same as others, be authentic.