Chase your dreams: BPEC celebrates International Women’s Day

One woman’s story of a successful career in construction

While many people may think women working in the construction sector is a recent trend, Orienda Hatfield’s story dispels that myth.

As Building Services and Engineering Manager at Staffordshire’s largest independent training provider, Orienda manages the gas, plumbing and engineering departments and oversees the delivery of apprenticeships across these areas.  An approved BPEC training and assessment centre, PM Training will re-brand as Achieve Training on 1st April 2021.

Orienda developed a taste for gas engineering early after helping her father at weekends and during school holidays: he was a self-employed plumbing and gas engineer working as an installer on central heating systems. When the time came to leave school, she decided she wanted to follow in his footsteps. After a little persuasion from her, he agreed that she could do her apprenticeship with him.

“My Dad told me not to be put off by thinking that any role was just a man’s job,” Orienda says. “I enrolled on a gas installation and maintenance course and in 2006 was the first woman ever to complete Level 2 and Level 3 Gas Installation and Maintenance at Stoke on Trent College. To my surprise, I also won the college’s Apprentice of the Year Award.”

After qualifying she became self-employed, sub-contracting for a local firm, and spent several years installing gas central heating for local authorities. Expecting her first child, Orienda was attending Stoke College to take her gas ACS renewal when a staff member asked her to become a part-time lecturer. She did this for several years before becoming a full-time Assessor.

In 2015, PM Training approached her to set up a new gas department. This has been extremely successful, growing over the years and Orienda now has seven direct reports.

“Orienda has led a team to develop our gas and plumbing centre at an amazing rate of growth – supporting many apprentices and employers to develop their skills and businesses,” said Daniel​ Canavan, Executive Director of PM Training. “We’re proud to have Orienda working with us and I look forward as we rebrand to Achieve Training in April and help more people with quality inspirational training.”

So what advice would Orienda give to a 15-year-old starting out in the industry today? “As a woman in this industry, I believe I have been given equal opportunities throughout my career and received nothing but supportive encouragement and positive feedback. Don’t be put off by negative perceptions that some jobs are purely for men. Go forward and chase your dreams.”

If you have an interesting story that you’d be willing to share, please contact Ruth Roome at BPEC on 01332 376000 or email rroome@bpec.org.uk.