The 10 Most Inspirational Women Working in Construction in West Yorkshire

· Kirsty Allen · Business

Here’s to the women shining a light on construction.

Sophie Doyle

West Yorkshire Combined Authority work tirelessly to ensure that everyone in our region benefits from a strong economy and a modern, accessible transport network, as well as helping to support events like UKREiiF. Find out more.

Meet the women demonstrating to future generations how accessible a career in construction can be…

Just 14% of people working in the UK’s construction sector are women, most of whom are in office-related or non-site roles. However, this figure is on the rise. With recruitment and retention an issue for businesses nationwide, there’s never been a more important time to bring more women into the industry. If you’re looking to break into construction, here are the women to look up to.

Nikki Davis, Principal & CEO at Leeds College of Building

Nikki Davis

Credit: Carolyn Mendelsohn

Nikki’s impressive career spans over two decades, including roles at Calderdale College, Kirklees College and York College. In addition to spearheading an apprenticeship programme and leading successful bids, she’s also helping to diversify the construction sector. She started her current role just after the pandemic, and in 2022, the Leeds College of Building celebrated an unprecedented flurry of student award successes – with female students leading the way.

Antonia Martin-Wright, Director of Commercial Development at CEG

Antonia Martin Wright

With over 17 years of experience in commercial property, Antonia is seen by many as the go-to expert for commercial investment and development strategy on assets across the UK. She’s spent the majority of her career at CEG, where she’s recently become Director of Commercial Development. Her career highlight was celebrating International Women’s Day at 10 Downing Street with the Prime Minister and a group of other inspirational women in business.

Lisa Littlefair, Cities Lead & Leeds City Director at Mott MacDonald

Lisa Littlefair

A passionate advocate for inclusivity, Lisa began her career in telecoms, then went on to learn the ropes of local and regional government, spanning economic regeneration, research and education. She brought all of that experience into her current role at Mott MacDonald. Her driving motivation is to deliver places that work for people, while supporting towns and cities that provide good jobs, offer sound investment and are resilient to climate change.

Rachael Moran, Quantity Surveyor at Mace

Rachael Moran

Rachael began her construction career as an admin assistant at a scaffolding office. She started her degree apprenticeship aged 28, studying part time whilst undertaking her RICS and CIOB charterships. The achievement she’s most proud of to date is setting up the Yorkshire arm of the National Association of Women in Construction, which allows her to integrate her two passions – construction and inclusivity. Her biggest piece of advice to others? Network.

Sophie Doyle, Assistant Project Manager at Ridge & Partners

Sophie Doyle

After discovering a passion for construction whilst working a temporary job in Australia, Sophie knew she had found her calling. Her first position had a great number of female role models, sparking a drive to be a key figure in the industry herself. Her work on the committee board for National Association of Women in Construction Yorkshire Division has seen her undertake initiatives for the younger generation, including the successful Schools2Site scheme.

Kerry Whalley, Climate & Sustainability Director at Arup

Kerry Whalley

Kerry’s career has been dedicated to sustainable development and environmental protection within the construction industry, and her current role sees her lead initiatives across the UK, India, Africa and the Middle East. With a background in aquatic biology, she helped establish the Yorkshire Dales River Trust early in her career. An avid advocate for women in engineering, Kerry’s passion lies in encouraging diversity and inclusion in the environmental sector.

Aimee Shann, Group Quality Manager at Wates

Aimee Shann

Aimee began her career in construction almost six years ago as a Production Management Trainee, honing her skills and eventually progressing to manage her own section of works on-site at Wellington Place. Driven by a passion for quality, she transitioned into her current role of Group Quality Manager in 2022. A career packed with highlights includes delivering lectures at local universities, serving as a CIOB committee member and acting as Vice Chair for YEP Leeds.

Lydia Eustace, Marketing & Wellbeing Director at Moda Living

Lydia Eustace

As Marketing & Wellbeing Director at Moda Living, Lydia has been responsible for the Moda brand from inception, including logo, vision, PR and resident experience. She’s currently studying for a doctorate, taking on pioneering research into how communication can be used to make people more eco-friendly in their homes. This work feeds into Moda’s award-winning ESG strategy, helping cement the firm as the global leader in Fitwel accreditations.

Christine Lowry, Partner at Buro Happold

Christine Lowry

After completing an Architectural Engineering degree at the University of Leeds, Christine began her career as a consultant engineer at Buro Happold. Now a partner in the firm, she heads up their Leeds office, delivering a diverse portfolio of building, infrastructure and sustainable engineering design, alongside strategic consultancy. She’s most proud of working on iconic buildings like Leeds City Museum and The Majestic, helping give historic architecture a new lease of life.

Rebecca Hartshorn, National Framework Director at John Sisk & Sons

Rebecca Hartshorn

Having been told aged 16 that construction ‘wasn’t a career for a young woman’, Rebecca smashed through the glass ceiling. After completing her Masters, she began her career as a graduate engineer, rising quickly through the ranks to deliver projects nationwide. Accolades include receiving a British Empire Medal for prolific contributions to Skills and Industry, and becoming one of the youngest female Fellows of the Chartered Institute of Building.