Women working on the M621 project nominated for Excellence in Leadership

National Highways, UK, women in construction, women in engineering,


A team of inspirational women working on the £49.8m M621 junction improvement scheme has been shortlisted for the Excellence in Leadership category in the UK.

A team of inspirational women at the helm of a multi-million improvement scheme is in line for a national award recognising their excellent leadership.

The £49.8m M621 junction 1-7 project, which is creating better journeys for people travelling through Leeds, has been shortlisted for the CN & NCE Inspiring Women in Construction and Engineering Awards.

The scheme is up for an award in the Excellence in Leadership category.  Almost 65 per cent of the leadership team is made up of women, working in disciplines across construction.

National Highways’ Project Sponsor Tsuwun Bevan and Keltbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt are both ultimately responsible for the scheme, with senior leadership provided by National Highways Project Manager Sal Hopkinson and Keltbray Senior Project Manager Nicola Hodges.

“This is testament to the brilliant female professionals involved in our partnership, driving this important project forward. We are so proud of the women working with us,” says National Highway Project Sponsor Tsuwun Bevan.

There is further female leadership in different sectors such as safety, quality, information management, commercial and facilities management. 

“An inclusive culture is at the heart of everything we do,” says Kelbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt.

“As a team, we made a considered decision that flexible working is a day one right.  Whilst this has gone above and beyond corporate requirements, it is endorsed by senior leaders from both organisations,” says Kelbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt.

“The diverse leadership is matched by our dynamic working environment. This approach has created an inclusive culture for parenting, caring, and work life balance.  Ninety-one per cent of our staff have taken advantage of this dynamic working environment,” says Kelbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt.

To further support everyone to reach their potential, there is a commitment towards upskilling women on the M621 project, enabling them to take on roles including promotion of project management, quantity surveying, document control and administration.

“We have a core of apprentices, including three young women studying for qualifications in engineering and commercial management. One success has been the appointment of one of the site cleaning staff as an apprentice, who now works as our document controller,” says Kelbray’s Major Projects Director Louise Pavitt.

On-site initiatives are driven by an equality, diversity and inclusion working group committed to cultural and behavioural change. There have been celebrations of events including a compulsory stand-down day for International Women’s Day. Safety campaigns have included subjects such as menopause, cervical cancer, and women’s health.

This is in addition to many other activities promoting an inclusive culture, such as speaking to groups including Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind People, Yorkshire Children’s Charity and East Leeds Specialist Independent Learning Centre to understand the experiences of people impacted by highways work.

Keltbray’s community relations team has been driving a programme of school visits focussed on women in construction. Mock interviews have been held with HMP New Hall Women and Young Offenders’ Institute and the homeless charity, St George’s Crypt. There has been distribution of over 2000 copies of our ‘When I Grow Up’ book educating children on careers in construction.

“Across the project, there is a real sense of compassion and care, with everyone committed to creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable to be themselves,” says National Highway Project Sponsor Tsuwun Bevan.

The Inspiring Women in Construction and Engineering Awards ceremony takes place on Tuesday (10 October) at the Leonardo Royal in London.

The awards will recognise the individuals and teams making outstanding contributions to gender diversity within their industry. They recognise individuals, teams, companies and initiatives that have helped contribute to making a construction or engineering firm a great place to work.

About the M621 junction 1-7 upgrade project

The upgrade to the M621 aims to ease congestion, increase capacity and enhance safety on the busy urban motorway.     

Once complete, it will boost economic growth through improving journey times, traffic flow at peak times and average speeds.  

In December, National Highways began adding and widening lanes at the busy junction 2 near Elland Road. These improvements will provide extra room at the junction to help keep traffic moving and reduce queues, so drivers can get to their destination sooner.

The scheme will also create free flow links connecting the A643 at junction 2, as well as extra lane capacity at both junctions 2 and 7.

Source: © Crown copyright, 2023.

Image Source: © Crown copyright, 2023.

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