A Day in the Life of Caroline Yeo, Contract Manager
Our next ‘Day in the Life’ focuses on one of our fantastic Contracts Managers, Caroline Yeo. Caroline has been in the business for 7 years and works out on-site for our client’s Great Places, Accent Homes and Progress Housing Group. She has a wealth of knowledge in both the private and social housing sector and her experience as a Senior Resident Liasion Officer has meant she understands the importance of delivering high-level customer service for our residents.
Welcome to our next instalment of our ‘Day in the Life of’. A series of interviews with our people here at Connolly’s, providing insight into our day to day activities and our people.
So, let’s go back – can you give us a brief insight into your career path which has led you to be in the position you are today?
I’d spent 6 years working in the private housing construction industry when the housing market crashed in 2008. The company I worked for went into liquidation, my role as Sales Manager didn’t exist anymore and I was unemployed for the first time in my life.
I soon joined Bullock Construction as a Liaison Officer and was then promoted into the role of Senior Liaison Officer. My role at Bullock developed and I became involved in other areas of the business including Aftercare and Bid Management.
I joined Connolly’s in 2014 after meeting and chatting to two of our directors at a fast food restaurant on the East Lancs Road! That informal interview, drinking coffee out of paper cups, told me as much as I needed to know – Simon and Chris had explained their vision for the company and I was excited to be given the opportunity to be part of the team.
During my time with the company I’ve developed from Senior Liaison Officer, to Project Manager and now Contracts Manager.
Are there any moments in your career, past or present, that stand out to you?
Whilst it’s difficult to choose one defining moment, that strange interview in Subway with Chris and Simon was a key event that unlocked the opportunity to further develop my career. It was a difficult decision to leave Bullock, I was settled and relatively happy in my role, working for a company where I felt valued and respected but the opportunity to be part of the planned growth of the Connolly team and business was too good an opportunity to miss. At Connolly’s I was able to build a strong customer team that was recognised as being at the heart of the company. The organisation allowed flexibility within my customer role to become involved in the operational aspect of the business which then allowed me to further develop my knowledge, skills and understanding and paved the way for my career progression to Project Manager and then Contracts Manager.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
The role can be very busy and challenging at times and the ability to plan, organise and prioritise is essential. My role requires me to engage with a wide range of people, including clients, health and safety representatives, colleagues, customers and operatives meaning effective communication and leadership skills are crucial. Problem solving techniques and creative thinking can often be required.
Can you tell us about a typical working day for you?
The first item on my to-do-list each day is to “make a to-do-list”! This helps me to prioritise my workload and ensure that deadlines are met and nothing important gets missed.
A typical day is spent liaising with my team of Site Managers, checking on progress against programme, foreseeing any obstacles and implementing measures to overcome them. A lot of my time is spent planning ahead, looking at future labour requirements and programming. The regular tasks include emails, internal meetings, client meetings, processing wages, producing programme/performance reports and conducting site audits. I also have regular contact with the operatives and Liaison Officers who are working on my projects, ensuring that each site team is fully supported.
Every day is varied, there’s always a curveball that I hadn’t planned on needing to deal with, but that’s what makes each day more interesting!
We can’t do an interview without mentioning COVID-19 as it is very much the topic of conversation at the moment. How do you think Connolly reacted to the pandemic and what kind of effect on the overall industry do you think it will have?
The last 12 months have been a whirlwind, but I believe that the company did as much as it possibly could to minimise the impact on our clients, customers and staff.
After the first lockdown was announced, we made sure that every property we were working in, was left with adequate facilities before closing each site.
I was furloughed in April but still had regular communication with our directors – even when there was no update, our online update meetings and email communications still continued.
Before returning to work in June, the company carried out a welfare check to make sure I was comfortable returning to work in the midst of a global pandemic and when I returned, I was immediately briefed on the new measures that had been implemented to ensure everyone’s safety.
Only time will tell about the effect on the industry, there is still some nervousness from some of our most vulnerable customers, but there are positives that can be taken from the pandemic – we’ve implemented and adapted to new ways of working which have made us much more efficient.
Where do you see Connolly Ltd in 5 years?
Three years ago I wouldn’t have expected us to be as big and busy as we are now so anything is possible!
We’ve built excellent working relationships with our clients and I expect to still be working with a good number of those clients in five years’ time.
The growth we’ve achieved since I joined in 2014 didn’t happen by accident, it is the result of a lot of hard work and effort, along with the strength of our leadership team. I have fantastic colleagues and consider myself to be lucky to work with some of the best in the business.
Can you tell us about the hardest moment in your career and how you overcame it?
Being made redundant as Sales Manager with a private new build developer forced me to completely re-set my career path. Sales within the sector were virtually non-existent and it was almost impossible to secure a new position with another developer as they were all experiencing the same issues within the housing market.
Initially, the move into social housing refurbishment resulted in me feeling massively out of my depth – I had started a new role, for a new company in a new industry and took a huge pay cut just to have some job security! It was such a steep learning curve and there were times when I truly questioned whether I’d made the right career choice.
I took every opportunity available to learn from those around me and expand my knowledge and skills – I was determined to succeed and do the very best that I could but also had an eye on future career progression.
It’s just over 12 years since that happened and I’m proud to say that my choices, effort and determination didn’t let me down.
Connolly Culture is at the heart of the business – can you describe what the culture means to you?
The culture at Connolly is like nothing I’ve ever seen before and it’s really difficult to describe, but it’s what makes me look forward to coming to work each day.
I’ve already mentioned that I work with some of the best people in the industry – there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience within the team and there is always someone available to bounce ideas off or to provide advice, support and encouragement when needed.
I also work with some of the most quick-witted people I’ve ever met, so there’s always someone on hand to make you laugh (or bring you back down to earth) when needed!
What do you believe is the greatest thing that Connolly Ltd has achieved so far?
It has to be the speed and scale of growth that I’ve seen and been part of. As the company has grown, we’ve attracted many talented people into the organisation, but we’ve also developed our existing staff enabling them to progress into alternative roles within the business. I’m the classic example of that career progression and the organisation has supported me throughout with training, guidance and mentoring.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the Construction industry?
Remember there are many different routes into the industry – if you have the right skills and mindset, it’s not always necessary that you come from a trade or technical background.
Don’t give up – it can be very difficult to secure a position with a good company in the construction industry.
Be a sponge! Soak up as much knowledge as you can from the people around you.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the pressure of being busy and I love the variety of each day which means that no two days are ever the same. On a personal level, I love that my job has given me the opportunity to meet so many interesting characters and build new and what will be life-long friendships with some of my colleagues.
Finally, if there was one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
When I look back I realise that my younger self was quite timid. I’d tell that girl to have more self-confidence and to trust her instincts. But I also realise that I wouldn’t change anything – it’s the decisions and actions of that young person that have brought me to where I am now.