We definitely need more diversity in construction
More about Misty
Since graduating from LLB Business Law in 2017, NTU alum Misty Nicholson has carved a successful career for herself in the construction industry- a sector which she fell into, but one where she has truly found her passion.
She shared her thoughts on life working in construction, including how it felt to become a finalist for Female Quantity Surveyor of the Year, and her advice for how women can find success working in a male dominated industries.
Like many others, Misty found her role by accident after a period of feeling lost and unsure about where to begin her career.
‘I fell into my role, a friend was a Quantity Surveyor- she recommended I give it a try. It was definitely the right role at the right time. Looking back at university I always surrounded myself with the construction degree students and had an interest in it. It had the elements of my degree that I enjoyed but also others such as negotiations and analysis.’
Misty confessed that it was an area she didn’t initially consider- studying Law she expected to become a lawyer and hadn’t thought about the other opportunities that were available to her with her degree.
‘I recently got told by my mentor that a career is like snakes and ladders and every move can change your place on that board. Early in my career I didn’t focus on long-term and where I wanted to be- I wish I had. I didn’t get a mentor until 3 years in, and it would have been useful early on.’
5 years into her career, Misty has obtained a Masters in Quantity Surveying, has recently completed her company’s leadership programme.
In 2022 Misty was a finalist for Female Quantity Surveyor of the Year at the Women in Construction awards ‘it was a very out of body experience, I was in disbelief that I was nominated but so happy’.
We asked Misty whether she feels there is enough diversity in her profession. ‘We definitely need more diversity in construction. [The industry] has always lacked this, but we do need more diverse people in the way of disabilities, women and ethnic minorities.’
Her employer, Costain Group, has been awarded Times Top 50 Employer for Women for the past 4 years. ‘We have networks to support [women] and events to encourage diverse conversations. It’s about supporting women to stay, as well as recruiting and having allies in the industry.’
Misty explained that when she started out in her junior role, it felt difficult to have her voice heard, working in an all-male team and with no specialist degree.
‘I think having a strong female mentor but also a male, having both, gives you perspective and you can use it to your advantage. It is good to know who you can open up to. Never keep it in, talk to someone and when others come to you listen to them- don’t offer advice just be there for them.’
Despite working in a male dominated industry, Misty shares that she is not short of female role models and has had the pleasure of working with leaders including Isabel Coman who was the project director for HS2 south, Abi Lalani and Alexandra Badel, both senior leaders at Costain and Aneeka Barmi Agent at Skanska, one of the UKs leading contractors.
‘One thing all of these woman have is a powerful voice, but they are open about where they struggle and show people how to have a work life balance. Alex and Isabel are mothers who have really shown me how to have boundaries at work.’
Looking back on her time at NTU Misty reflects on the support that she received; ‘I had wellbeing support from the Law school which helped me to focus- I found it really tough to adjust and this helped me at a time when I was considering dropping out. I also did the employability programme and a placement half year in second year both of which have benefitted me massively. I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can succeed.’
Follow Misty on LinkedIn: Misty Nicholson | LinkedIn