This International Women’s Day, we’re thrilled to spotlight Ayca Gedik, one of our remarkable Project Managers at Leslie Clark. With her expertise and dedication, she has been instrumental in steering our projects towards success.

Ayca, could you share with us your journey into the project management field within the construction industry? What inspired you to pursue this career path?

I have always had an interest in construction. During my A Levels, I was looking at career options within the construction and built environment industry, and I wanted to choose my uni degree accordingly. When I started looking into it, I was surprised by the amount of career opportunities there are within the industry and that it’s not all just builders! I reviewed the options and settled on project management as I thought it best aligned with my skills and so I ended up doing a BSc in Project Management for Construction.

What have been some of the significant challenges you’ve faced in your career so far, particularly as a woman in the industry, and how have you navigated these obstacles?

Despite the improvements in gender diversity over the years in the industry, it is still very much male-dominated. It is often the case where you are the only female in the room or in a meeting and this can get a bit nerve racking, although you soon get used to it and just crack on. I do think that I am lucky to have joined the industry now as I have heard women who have been in the industry for much longer than I have talk about the discrimination they had experienced, and I can’t think of a time when I felt discriminated to that extent, which in itself shows an improvement within the industry I guess.

Looking back on your career, could you tell us about a project or moment that stands as your proudest achievement and why it is so significant to you?

This has to be the completion of the first project I managed alone. My seniors were always there to answer any questions and provide support when needed, but generally, the ‘project management’ responsibility fell on me. I felt very proud of myself when we completed the project successfully, on time and within budget!

Have there been any role models or mentors who have significantly influenced your career? How important do you think mentorship is for women in the construction industry?

I have been lucky enough to meet many inspirational women throughout my career to date. I would say the first woman to give me the motivation to progress within the industry was a speaker who attended one of our university lectures, she was a Director at a property development consultancy company and talked about the struggles of being a woman in the industry and how she has overcome them whilst balancing a life outside of work, and it made me think that I could do it too. I also remember feeling very happy the first time I met a female site manager as you do see less women on site compared to in an office environment, let alone in a management role.

From your perspective, what measures can be taken within the industry to foster a more inclusive and diverse environment, especially for women and underrepresented groups?

I think this requires a combination of structural changes, cultural shifts, and targeted initiatives. Companies need to implement diversity and inclusion policies that explicitly address the need for gender equality and representation of underrepresented groups. I also think flexible work policies are needed, such as remote work options, flexible hours, and parental leave, to accommodate the diverse needs of employees. Providing flexibility can help address barriers that disproportionately affect women and caregivers, allowing them to better balance work and personal responsibilities.

What advice would you offer to young women aspiring to enter the construction industry, particularly in traditionally male-dominated roles?

Look into apprenticeships for an early start to your career if you feel the university route is not for you. You can always reach out to women who are already in the industry for any tips and advice. I can’t think of a single woman I’ve met in the industry who would turn away the opportunity to give a young person advice and talk about how great the industry is.

How do you envision the construction industry’s future in terms of gender diversity, and what changes are you most hopeful about?

I envision a construction industry that is truly reflective of the diverse society we live in. This means not only increasing the representation of women in traditionally male-dominated roles but also ensuring that women have equal access to leadership and decision-making positions and opportunities for advancement – I think this will help improve the image of the industry and provide young women role models to look up to.

What drew you to choose Leslie Clark as the place to advance your career in project management, and how has your experience with the company aligned with or surpassed your initial expectations?

Leslie Clark has a reputation in the industry for delivering high-quality projects successfully for reputable clients, they are committed to providing an excellent service to clients and they really emphasise employee development and growth. My personal experience with the company has been great as I’ve had the opportunity to work on challenging and rewarding projects alongside talented and experienced colleagues.

Finally, considering International Women’s Day, what message would you share, especially to women who work in or are considering a career in the construction industry?

My only advice would be to never doubt yourself – you are only limited by your self-perception of what you can achieve. The construction industry is simply incredible and has so many opportunities, you could be involved in very interesting projects that you will never forget and meet amazing people on the way. If you want to work in a dynamic environment, where no two days are the same, then construction is for you!

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