Natalie Gale-Sides on starting a new job in a pandemic, and how she got her confidence back (Q&A, part 1)

28th July 2021 |

Natalie Gale-Sides has spent the past nine months settling into her role as Pre-Construction Manager at John Perkins Construction. She reflects on the highlights, the setbacks, and why she’s passionate about getting young people into the construction industry.

You started at John Perkins Construction right in the thick of the Covid pandemic. What was that like?

At my previous job, I’d spent several months on furlough and then been made redundant, so 2020 was a rocky time for me. Inevitably, you begin to doubt yourself. I even contemplated a complete career change.

Then the opportunity at JPC came up. I went for the interview and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in a job interview! That’s how I knew it was the right company for me. It also boosted my confidence and made me realise the construction industry really was where I wanted to be.

For most of the pandemic, I’d been volunteering at a food bank, so it was an adjustment to be back in the world of construction. However, as soon as I pulled up outside the JPC office, I felt completely at ease. On paper, my first day should have been awkward, but the reality of it was very relaxed and friendly, thanks to the great team at JPC.

What’s been the highlight of the last nine months?

Getting my confidence back has been a big thing. After I was made redundant from my last role, everyone around me was cheering me on, but I couldn’t help doubting myself. Working at JPC has solidified the fact that my friends and family were right (don’t tell them I said that) when they said, yes, you can do this. I’m pleased to prove to myself and everyone else that, yes, I can still pull together a flipping good bid.

Another boost has been seeing how open the directors are to my input. When I questioned the way anything was done, Rupert and Alex said to me, “If it’s broken, please tell us how to fix it.” I’ve brought in new trackers for upcoming work and resourcing. When suggestions you make are adopted and appreciated, that’s a great feeling.

What’s your motto for life?

What will be will be. I believe that if it’s the right thing, or if something needs to change, there will be an obvious nudge in one way or another.

If I hadn’t been made redundant, I doubt I would have looked for a new job. Now I’ve landed in a place where I have my views are listened to, and I have room to grow. Everything happens for a reason. 2020 was difficult at the time, but I’m so glad it all worked out the way it did.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’m very happy with my life now, but it’s been a rollercoaster getting here. It makes me realise that every setback has been for a reason and has definitely made me stronger. Without those hard times, you don’t end up learning as much.

Oh, but I wish would have learned to ride a motorbike earlier!

Read the second part of this Q&A with Natalie.

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