Date: 04/03/2024

Fortem is helping to welcome, promote and retain women. Despite the stereotypes there are women working in what may be traditionally seen as more ‘male roles’ who are breaking the bias, like Fortem’s Mel Simon, Head of Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE)

Here, Mel shares a little about their roles, their career, and tips for those who want to get into construction.

Mel Simon has worked her way up to a senior role at Fortem and now heads up Head of Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE) with several people reporting into her. After joining the business in 2006 as a void’s administrator, trying her hand at a few roles as a service controller and safety coordinator, before joining Fortem’sManagement Trainee Scheme in 2009. Mel then graduated from the scheme in 2012 as a SHE advisor, gaining more experience in health and safety, voids, and compliance over the years before being promoted to National SHE Manager in 2020. Mel’s role includes supporting the regional teams and their advisors and looks at the strategic picture including the health and safety plan, delivery as well as monitoring performance.

Mel believes that communication is key, in dealing with root causes of issues. Mel says “People don’t know how to talk to each other. Firstly, we need to understand the issue and explain anything that may need further conversation, such as legislation. I like to share knowledge and what we need to do to satisfy legislation. We have passionate people on the ground, but sometimes there maybe conflict between the health and safety team and the operational teams. My job is to come in and make sure we peacefully resolve any issues. My approach is always focused on relationships and to bring softer skills to the conversation, where needed to help understand the issues and come to a resolution.”

“I am often the only lady in the room, dealing with lots of men from senior management teams to operatives and site teams. I need to understand the male perspective and their approach, how am I going to come in and influence them and bring them on a journey? I bring emotional intelligence to resolve the huge potential risk of conflict. Emotional intelligence is the key.

For women wanting to join us, it’s great that Fortem offer work experience places to young girls and provide female mentors to discuss their journey. This allows them to see a successful woman and realise that if their mentor can make it, they can too!”

Mel’s take away tips Just do it! Have confidence, believe in your knowledge, and be sure your voice will be heard!

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