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It’s never too late

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‘Doubt shatters more dreams than failure’ I’ve come to realise. As a woman we often feel judged by society for the decisions we take, and constantly ask ourselves if we are doing the right thing? And once you become a mother the level of doubt reaches a new high.


For the past ten years, I have worked part-time as a team administrator for the Project & Building Consultancy team in Leeds. Throughout this time Colliers has been fully flexible when it comes to accommodating me both as a mother and as an employee, being able to finish mid-afternoon in order to pick my three children up from school. I always had ambitions to evolve my career but thought that while my children were young I wouldn’t be unable to pursue those professional goals.

So, when I discovered I could study for a degree and train as a quantity surveyor while working at Colliers, I realised that at 33 - with at least 35 years left before retirement – it was definitely not too late to retrain. I could have both a career and a family.

I won’t pretend that it’s plain sailing. Transitioning from my previous role of secretary to a trainee position, working towards a BSc in Quantity Surveying has been a real journey, given I not only had to get used to the extra work of doing a degree while stepping away from a job I knew.

It takes a lot of coordination to go back to studying while bringing up a family, but my line manager has been incredibly supportive. I’m able to attend site meetings, often where I’m the only woman on the job, the office and social events when needed, but also pick up my children from school when necessary too – it’s about finding the right balance for everyone and being transparent about what’s possible and when. It’s been reassuring that as there are only around 15 per cent of women working in surveying that I’ve actually found being out on jobs refreshing, not once have I felt intimidated or my views dismissed while out on site.

We’ve all found the last 12 months particularly challenging. When the pandemic started I had only just left a role I knew like the back of my hand, and then we were thrown into various national lockdowns, and the joys of juggling home schooling while holding down a job and studying – thank goodness there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel!

I’m now 18 months into a four year degree apprenticeship programme, and I’m finding myself encouraging other support staff at Colliers to do the same thing. Two others have now signed up in the Leeds office to the UCEM courses, and I’m hoping that others across the firm will realise the amazing opportunities that are available, no matter your age, personal commitments or previous educational experience.

Fear of failure and doubt can so often stand in our way of achieving what we dream for ourselves. It’s painfully slow, but I feel that there is becoming a shift in the views of the traditional roles around parenthood. While it’s been socially acceptable for women to have their own careers over the last three decades, what we’re only now starting to see is for it to be acceptable for men to take a step back from the breadwinner role and instead spend some time on being fathers, and partners.

If this last year has taught us anything it’s that we all need to give ourselves the opportunity to strike the right balance of what’s important to us, our careers and our families, and our priorities may differ from one day to the next, but that’s perfectly fine.

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About the Author

Hazel Halliday is a Trainee Quantity Surveyor currently undertaking a BSc (Hons) degree at the University College of Estate Management (UCEM). Hazel started at Colliers in the Project & Building Consultancy Team as an Administrator/Secretary in May 2010.

To get in touch, please email hazel.halliday@colliers.com

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Hazel Halliday

Trainee Quantity Surveyor

Project & Building Consultancy

Leeds

A Trainee Quantity Surveyor currently undertaking a BSc (Hons) degree at the University College of Estate Management (UCEM).

Joined the Colliers International Project & Building Consultancy Team as Administrator / Secretary in May 2010.

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