Working in my local community. Why Alexis Ezekiel-Hart joined Kier, and her journey so far…
Interviewer: Harrison Bartlett
Construction companies like Kier have the ability to make a difference in the local communities in which they work. It might be that we’re building a school or hospital, or we’re managing buildings or looking after local roads, or the training and job opportunities we offer – it all makes a difference to the communities we serve.
Alexis Ezekiel-Hart, apprentice site manager at Kier was inspired to join the construction industry for just that reason, after seeing Kier complete a project at her school. Harrison Bartlett was keen to find out more about this, as well as catching up with Alexis about the upcoming Open Doors Week.
Knowing that I’m working somewhere that serves local communities across the UK makes me really proud. So much so, that when I’m out and about on the weekends, and I see Kier branding on the side of a van or a construction site, it gives me that sense of pride – Alexis knows that feeling, and it was a big attraction point for her to join us at Kier.
“So, what made you want to join Kier?” was one of the first questions I asked Alexis when we called not so long ago. “It’s quite a funny mix of reasons actually,” Alexis begun. “Kier was actually doing some refurbishment work at my school, in our canteen. I thought what the team were doing looked really interesting, and I got the chance to do some work experience with them,” Alexis said. She then begun doing some research into the business and finding out about the different routes into the construction industry.
“I have two aunts working within the construction industry as well, one of which actually is here at Kier, so that was another factor that played into my interest in construction,” Alexis added. “I was always interested in engineering though as well, I did physics at school, and loved all of the thinking and problem solving that came with it. I was even offered an apprenticeship within Formula 1 as an engineer, but my long-term dream of being able to build my own home drew me towards Kier, and I started my role within site management!” Alexis said.
After working with the team on work experience at her school, she started doing research on the business, finding out about some of the exciting projects we’re working on, the range of roles we have available, and how we support our people – and wanted to be a part of it all.
Alexis officially joined Kier in August last year as an apprentice site manager and was enrolled onto our degree apprenticeship programme. “Going to university straight from sixth form didn’t really appeal to me – it’s not my way of learning. I wanted to get my hands dirty and learn a job while doing the educational part. I’d recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who has that mindset like me,” Alexis said.
Alexis will have her first week at university next month, however despite not beginning this part of her apprenticeship yet, she has a mentor who she has regular catch ups with, speaking about what she’s learnt so far, what she’s been up to, and how she plans on applying her growing knowledge to her course.
Which led me to my next question, “what do you get up to as an apprentice site manager then?” I asked. “All sorts!” Alexis started off by saying. “I could really be doing anything, from supporting with inductions of people to our site – which are really important as anyone who is coming onto our site needs to be aware of where you can and can’t go,” she continued.
“Probably the biggest part of the job is making sure everyone is just being put to work safely, that’s a massive focus for us on site,” Alexis added.
Health and safety is a crucial aspect of what we do at Kier, as it is across the entire industry, and with working on a quite complex site facing a busy street. “On my site, we’re constructing a two-storey building with two basements, which will end up being a mixture of residential, retail, and office space,” Alexis explained. The project itself is situated on a busy road in London, so there is extra consideration taking place in how the work being done keeps both those in the site, and near it, safe. Alexis said.
We then got back to talking about the beginning of our careers. Alexis had previously studied subjects at sixth form that would have led her into engineering, whereas I personally didn’t have much of a set idea into what I really wanted to do – which is fine, may I add!
This is where Open Doors Week comes in, a fantastic initiative where construction companies across the UK open up their sites for people to come and visit, namely students who are interested in finding out more about our industry.
Alexis was part of the Open Doors preview event that we hosted back in November. She is also a STEM ambassador, with a focus on encouraging young black women to get in to STEM, and find roles that they love. She feels very strongly about using events like Open Doors to inspire the next generation into construction. “Things like Open Doors Week are important for you to see yourself what goes on in a site, and you might be really interested by it,” Alexis said.
“At the end of the day, we’re the ones who are going to be the future site managers, directors, and CEOs, so take a chance, apply for a role, find a role you’re interested in learning more about,” she added.
The construction industry is filled with exciting opportunities, and this March you’ll have the opportunity to take a peek behind the hoardings at an Open Doors event. It’s a brilliant opportunity to learn more about how our sites operate and give you a taste for what a career in construction could look like for you. Make sure you get involved, and if you like what you see, check out our current vacancies or sign up to our talent communities.