International Women’s Day 2022

International Women's Day Emma

To mark International Women’s Day, we wanted to introduce you to a couple of Acorn Analytical Service’s fantastic female employees.

The asbestos industry – like the construction industry in general – is a male dominated sector but at Acorn we are fortunate to work with several brilliant female employees, including asbestos analysts, asbestos surveyors and members of our office team.

In this blog we would like to focus on two of our colleagues – asbestos surveyor Emma Gooding and asbestos analyst Kayleigh Bowyer-Smith – so they can share with you what attracted them to working in the asbestos industry.

We hope by sharing their stories this International Women’s Day it will encourage more women to think about careers in the asbestos industry.

International Women’s Day – Emma’s story

I first got into the industry around five or six years ago, when I was 22.

I started off as a Project Co-ordinator booking in housing jobs for the surveyors on site. I’d worked in an office since I was 16 and at that point I was beginning to get restless and wanted to do something completely different, and out of my comfort zone.

Fortunately, about six months into my time as a Project Co-ordinator, I got the opportunity to become a trainee asbestos surveyor. I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands so when the chance to become a member of site staff presented itself, I seized it.

So far, I’ve worked with three different asbestos companies and I’m proud to say I’ve been with Acorn for nearly a year and a half. I absolutely love working for Acorn as an asbestos surveyor and I hope to add more feathers to my cap as my experience and knowledge continues to grow.

You can have a really fulfilling careers in the asbestos industry. In my role I go to different sites every day which is great for me because I really enjoy the travelling side of the job.

I like the variety of sites I get to go to as well. I could be working at a normal house one day, a racing circuit the next day and then a large office block in the middle of London the following day.

You also get to meet all different kinds of characters from all walks of life on site which also makes the job really interesting.

Working as an asbestos surveyor always keep you on your toes. It’s incredible how many sites I go to where work has been carried out which has caused excessive damage to asbestos products.

Going into the industry I imagined everyone knew about asbestos and the dangers it can pose to health if it’s damaged, but sadly I was wrong.

If I had a pound for every time I put my head into a ceiling void and saw that someone has created a large hole in an AIB firebreak to feed through modern services I would be very wealthy.

It’s worrying what you come across but it’s good to know that the work we do helps people to stay safe.

It’s fair to say that the asbestos industry is definitely a male-dominated industry, especially on site.

However, over the years I’ve worked with some amazing and knowledgeable women who haven’t let the stereotype of the job or industry stop them.

On this International Women’s Day, I’d say if any women want to get into the industry and become a surveyor or an analyst then do it! It can be hard work but it can also be so rewarding and you really can work all the way to that top if that’s what you want to do.

I feel fortunate that I work at Acorn. As I’ve said, I’ve worked for three different asbestos companies and I can honestly say Acorn is the best.

They appreciate the home/work life balance, and although hitting budgets and figures is important to the success of a company, they look after their staff and reward them for their work.

The most important thing for me about working at Acorn is the management listen to their colleagues. They’re not afraid of what their employees have to say and will do their utmost to remedy any issue that may arise. 

International Women's Day Emma
Emma Gooding

International Women’s Day – Kayleigh’s story

About five years ago, a friend of mine became a trainee surveyor for an asbestos company and when she told me about the industry I knew I wanted to be a part of it.

Her company ended up bringing me on board as a trainee analyst and I’m so pleased they did because I absolutely love my job.

It appeals to me because I get to travel around and meet lots of different clients so there’s plenty of variety.

I’ve worked on lots of construction sites, at Parliament, cinemas, big retail stores, hospitals, power stations and on lots of demolition projects.

The majority of clients I’ve worked with over the years have been very aware about asbestos but it’s worrying when you go to a site and you come across people who really don’t care about asbestos.

Whatever the situation I find, before I leave a site I always double check everything to make sure it is spotless so I can confidently walk away happy.

It’s true that our industry is dominated by men and sadly, sometimes you’ll go to a site and come across some men who aren’t pleased to see a woman there.

There are occasions when you’ll go to a site and there are no changing or toilet facilities for women to use and the industry is a little behind in that sometimes, as a woman, it can be difficult to get protective clothing that fits us well because it’s normally designed with men in mind.

However, as I’ve said, I absolutely love my job and I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

I love meeting people and I love learning everything I can about the industry and my job because I always want to do the very best job possible.

There are always things happening in the asbestos industry so you have to keep learning all the time and one of the things which made me want to join Acorn is that they are so proactive when it comes to training.

The team at Acorn are so knowledgeable and approachable, their communication with their staff is second to none and they have incredibly high standards.

I have to do 10 times more things here to complete a report for a client but I like that because I know we are doing a thorough job. You stand up a bit taller when you know you’ve gone above and beyond and completed a really good report.

International Women's Day Kayleigh
Kayleigh Bowyer-Smith

Acorn is a professional asbestos consultancy helping organisations deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveysasbestos air testing, and asbestos removal management. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or Contact Us   

Neil Munro

I work in a dual role at Acorn Analytical Services focused primarily on growing and leading the business from our Northampton office base. My focus is on overseeing all sales, marketing and financial activities from Northampton. I assist clients with high-level asbestos management strategies and training. Together with Ian Stone I host our weekly podcast – Asbestos Knowledge Empire and I'm Co-author of Asbestos The Dark Arts and Fear and Loathing of Health and Safety.

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