“There’s more room for female operatives” says Jo-Anne on International Women’s Day

At Riverside, we believe it’s important that our colleagues reflect the communities we work in and that everyone has equal opportunities to succeed within their career.

Workforces in the trade and operational industries have historically been male dominated. For International Women’s Day, we’re sharing experiences of female colleagues working in operational management and leadership roles which have traditionally been filled by males.

Jo-Anne Hollings joined Riverside six months ago as our Operations Manager, leading teams and overseeing responsive repairs to properties in the Central and West regions.

We hope Jo-Anne’s insight encourages you to consider career opportunities you could excel in, no matter your gender.

Hi Jo-Anne, how did you get into working in this field?

I started by doing a degree in Architecture and becoming an architectural technician for a housing association in London, where I supervised on site, inspected properties and specifying works. I then became a senior technician at Leicester City Council, supervising building works for commercial and recreational buildings. I was more practical than design orientated so did a postgraduate diploma in Project Management followed by an extra year that converted it to an MBA in Construction and Real Estate. I moved into regeneration and managed a few high-profile city centre construction and other projects, including some related to Leicester City Council’s housing stock.

I then worked as a regeneration manager for Touchstone Housing Association and after a few years I worked for Regional Government on some projects funded by Europe.

After that I took a career break to look after my children.

I then returned to Leicester City Council to work in school’s asset management, organising building works to schools. This was followed by a move into Housing as a Senior Maintenance Surveyor, organising planned works for Melton Borough Council. Then I worked for Leicester City Council again as a Repairs Team Leader and then Voids and Property Lettings Manager before moving to Riverside Direct.

Would you encourage other women to work in housing, operational and construction roles?

Yes, because it’s a rewarding and interesting career path with a vast range of roles, projects and opportunities.

Do you feel Riverside is a good place to work for women?

I think Riverside is a great place to work – There are some great women in Riverside, especially our Chief Executive Carol Matthews, and I am inspired by my manager, Claire Allcock, who’s a great leader.

Personally, I’m looking at ways of promoting the opportunities that we have available in a way that encourages women to join us as there’s certainly more room for female operatives. So, I’d recommend that if you’re interested, that you check out what careers are available at Riverside or contact us to find out more.

Have you ever faced any challenges in the workplace while in a “traditionally male role” because of your gender?

Firstly, it’s important to know that laws such as the Equality Act 2010 ensure people are not discriminated against due to their gender in the workplace. I personally have faced some assumptions while at work, but it hasn’t happened for many years now luckily. But once when I was a senior technician, I took one of my male technicians out on site to show him the ropes and the contractor spent ages talking to him, assuming he was the project manager, to which my male colleague responded saying “I don’t know why you’re telling me all this, I don’t have a clue, she’s the boss” and pointed to me. The contractor had been embarrassed by his assumption that only a male could be in charge.

Do you think it’s important that gender stereotypes are broken when it comes to career roles?

I do, because we want the best people for the job and I would like to make sure women feel able to apply for jobs that are traditionally male so we have a great field of people to choose from. It’s also good to have a workforce that reflects the makeup of our customers, many of which are women. We don’t want women to feel that they can’t access, for instance, operative roles.

Visit our Careers page for the latest opportunities at Riverside