Celebrating women in construction for International Women's Day- Sophie Abrahams - PKF Francis Clark
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Celebrating women in construction for International Women’s Day- Sophie Abrahams

To mark International Women’s Day 2021, Sophie Abrahams, Business Development and Finance Manager at Architrail Velosolutions and mum of two shares her insight into the construction industry and her career journey so far.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to work for Architrail Velosolutions 

I’ve been with Architrail Velosolutions for about two years now, having been fortunate enough to find this opportunity not far from where I live. Architral Velosolutions specialise in building pump tracks and bike parks globally, and whose mission is to allow easy access to cycling and action sports to all. I’m a mother of two daughters, so it was really important for me to find a job that would be a challenge for me in my career, but equally would work whilst juggling a busy family life.

I love living and working in Bristol – I’m an outdoors person so I really love the city’s green credentials! Prior to this role, my background was in business development in design agencies and I had previously worked in advertising agencies across London.

What do you enjoy most about your current role in the construction industry?

I really enjoy how varied the role is and how I’ve been given the opportunity to make it my own. Before I joined there wasn’t anyone quite like me working for the company, and as I wasn’t directly fee generating I felt I had a challenge on my hands to prove my value. I was keen to make changes to the marketing and to apply our company values to everything we do as a business, but also cement the financial processes in the business and support the operational day to day.

Aside from the day to day responsibilities of my role I’ve begun work on an exciting research project measuring the benefit of our pump tracks and trails to entire communities and am currently working on a review of our website and social media presence.

These things usually fall outside of a job description but I’m really keen to align our marketing initiatives to our company values, which is really focused on inclusivity at all levels. That means promoting the sport to everyone, regardless of gender, age, socio-economic status or physical ability. Currently the sport is still very male dominated with women only making up 5% of BMX riders but that is changing and so is our company. I want our company to create playgrounds that everyone can enjoy.

I’ve got so much out of my career in construction so far, and I love being out on site. Once every few months I do a day on site with the team which I always really enjoy. It’s good for me to see first-hand the work the team do and good to appreciate just how much work goes into these builds.

 

What are you most proud of in your career so far?

Without doubt the best bit is seeing the tracks full of people. I’m looking forward to the world being freed up again for us all to enjoy these venues for what they were designed for. Our tracks develop confidence and skill in young riders and support safe progression for the more skilled. I have always enjoyed the respect that these tracks harbour in young people. Often watching older riders support newbies with tips and tricks. I’m a softie, but this would warm most people’s hearts!

How has PKF Francis Clark supported you?

We identified as a business we really needed a construction specialist to support us as the company continues to grow. The team at PKF Francis Clark have been remarkable and I’ve always liked their traditional yet friendly approach to things. I really wanted an accountant who could help me unpick some challenges we had, and to work together to overcome them. The first time I met Paul Bray he said ‘’bring me your problems and I will fix them with you.’’ That meant a lot and was the start of a great professional relationship!

What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in your role at Architrail Velosolutions  so far?

Being female in a male dominated industry and creating pump tracks and trails for a male dominated sport does present its own challenges, but I feel I bring a different point of view and perspective on things that perhaps others wouldn’t think of.

I bring a softness and understanding to some potentially difficult conversations which I think can be refreshing. I’ve had to grow in confidence to be comfortable in having these conversations, but I’m really glad I’ve got to the point I’m at now and hope to be a role model to my daughters and other young women.

What advice would you give to someone considering the construction industry for their career?

I’d say that if you enjoy being outdoors, being a part of a team working on a big physical project and want to effect social change then construction is a great option for you. I personally get such fulfilment knowing how our tracks and trails are having a positive impact on communities and the sense of achievement when a project is finished is well worth the hard work!

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