Thursday 17th March 2022

On a Mission by Barbara Akinkunmi from Lovell

Role models and inspirational leaders can play such an important part in people’s careers, and for Lovell’s Barbara Akinkunmi, the importance of a female manager when she first started working on site was invaluable...

On a mission

by Barbara Akinkunmi, Assistant Design Manager, Lovell, London region


Role models and inspirational leaders can play such an important part in people’s careers, and for Lovell’s Barbara Akinkunmi, the importance of a female manager when she first started working on site was invaluable.


Barbara, an Assistant Design Manager at the London region of Lovell, is on a mission to encourage more women into construction and over the last three years has gone about making a difference – in her own way.


As well as recently going back to her old university to engage with architectural students on the opportunities of a career in construction, the 25-year-old has set up an Instagram profile to help bridge the gap between young women and the construction industry, making it more understandable, relevant and inspirational.

Barbara wishes there had been more information available when she was at school. She explains: “Exposing girls to relatable and relevant young women across various disciplines really does broaden their minds and helps give more choice to their career decisions.

“This is something I wish I had been offered during my secondary school and A-Level studies. Although I was self-motivated to join because of my interest in the industry, along the way I missed out on the external inspiration, guidance, and relatable examples that I could look up to.”


It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey for Barbara over the last three years and every ride has had its ups and downs. She explains;

“When I started, finding women on project sites was quite rare and most site teams were not used to having female managers around.


“My first few days on site were quite daunting and the majority of my project team members were men! I also didn’t have any younger colleagues on the team to relate to, so it did take a while for me to find my feet. But that didn’t deter me. There were challenging times, when being a female, meant it was difficult to have my voice heard. I was very lucky to have the continuous support from a Lovell Senior Design Manager at that time. She encouraged me through every task and challenge I faced, whilst demonstrating through her leadership that it is possible to be a senior female manager working on multiple live projects.


“Undoubtedly, I’ve gained so much exposure and insight working within some amazing yet challenging project teams. This is mostly due to my time on the Lovell graduate scheme which gave me access to the world of construction.


“Coming into the industry in 2018 and not really knowing anything about it was quite daunting, especially while still learning the ropes, technical terms, and operation processes. But these experiences were part of my growth journey, discovering my voice and learning who I can become.

Being one of the few females on sites isn’t intimidating anymore but something I’ve grown to accept and advocate proudly.


“My time in the industry has exposed me to a variety of incredible opportunities - from school visits and virtual career talks to HBF’s Home Builder Skills event held at the Houses of Parliament.”


Word is spreading and the editor of Housebuilder has asked Barbara to write about her experiences in the March edition of the magazine. It was so well received, that he has now requested she does a regular feature which will include topics such as design, diversity, the environment and community regeneration.


Barbara loves the challenge of taking on something new.

“I’m delighted to be writing for a top rated industry magazine such as Housebuilder on topics I’m passionate about. I also write articles for Women of the City Magazine looking at issues within the industry as guidance to a female audience, many who may have limited knowledge about construction. I believe it’s important for all women to be aware of how the industry benefits and affects the communities we live in.”


Wherever she can, Barbara Akinkunmi uses her exceptional communication skills to impart to young people information about the opportunities that the industry has to offer. It’s a mission she’s just started and she’s still got plenty of time.

To follow Barbara’s ‘mission’

Instagram: Personal - @BarbaraAkinkunmi LinkedIn – ‘Barbara Akinkunmi’. Platform - @GirlsUnderConstruction, LinkedIn – ‘GirlsUnderConstruction’. Website is due to launch next month.

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