News and views

Women In Construction Spotlight: Adrienne Kenny

Flannery Plant Hire are proud of the women who work in our business and are keenly focused on ways to encourage more women to enter the construction industry. We hope that by highlighting and sharing the experience of Flannery employees we can showcase the fantastic opportunities available across the industry.

Today we are pleased to introduce you to Adrienne, our Plant Operator who has worked for the past three years on the A14 Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme, the largest Highways England infrastructure project. We asked Adrienne about her personal experience within the industry, her most challenging moments and favourite memories on this great project.

–  Tell us your story. How did you get into the construction industry?

I guess my story started long before I made it into the construction sector: I studied biomedical science at college, worked in the food industry and a hairdresser salon. And now here I am. I have been an operator now for four years. The first time my friend suggested I become an operator, I thought: “Oh my god, I wouldn’t be able to do that. The only kind of machine that I have ever seen was a tractor in the rural parts of Ireland.” But I gathered the courage and booked my CPCS training and test on a roller (I have never seen a roller in my life before!). After that, I knew for sure that I could do this.

– How long have you worked at Flannery?

It is three years already! From the early days at Flannery I realised everything was completely different when compared to my initial experience with a different plant hire company.

I quickly learned to appreciate the importance of the Flannery safety policies and training (especially Red Zone training). Flannery standards aim to tick all the boxes for employees and clients. They do this by supporting all the operators on site with their plant trainers which have been a great help to me and my colleagues as we started our careers as plant operators. Thanks to Flannery support throughout my studies, I have got a NEBOSH general certification in health and safety, which I feel proud of.

My time on the A14 project was the best ever. Seeing the site symmetry with all the people and the machines working perfectly together and particularly the progress that can be seen month to month is amazing. I worked alongside a lot of other plant drivers and I feel like I am part of a family, they support me throughout my time on site and I am lucky to have such valued friends.

–  Tell us a fun story while working at Flannery?

I remember when we opened a bridge on a section of A14, we had a big barbecue with food and drinks. One of our drivers was also a DJ for that night! This is a brilliant memory with lots of fun, and I really appreciate it. Whilst unusual, I think it is really great that we came together as a whole team to celebrate this milestone. I hope the next project I am on feels as inclusive as this one.

– What is the biggest challenge for you at work?

At the start of my career, I found driving the dump trucks challenging but with experience and guidance from Flannery trainers it is like second nature now. When I first started driving the dump trucks and the rollers, it was such a challenge trying to understand the kind of ground you are compacting. When I first saw a dump truck, I was very intimidated because they are so massive. You have to be 100% aware of all of your surroundings at all times.

–  What is your favourite thing about your role?

Obviously, I like driving. And the other thing is the people that you meet. One of the top things that makes it worthwhile is the positive working culture. You are always told, if you do not feel safe in what you are doing, then stop. Your safety is the key. I feel empowered to ask and confident the team will help me find the best solution.

–  What is an important lesson you have learned while working at Flannery and would advise to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. I think one of my favourite things to do is stepping outside of my comfort zone, to grow and improve my skills. This year I was invited to be a speaker for Flannery Trailblazer apprentices virtual training. It had around 60 students online. It is safe to say, four years ago there was no way I would have ever done that. And today I am a lot more confident to speak in front of a large audience. If it scares you, you are on the right path.

–  In your opinion, what does the industry need to do to help attract and retain more women?

I see that the industry is talking a lot about women in construction and it is really inspiring to see how Flannery shares the videos and photos of their female operators that they have on site, so more of that. Also, many of the guys in this industry are very enthusiastic and positive about women being on site and I feel this can be highlighted a lot more.