Caroline Musker, recently appointed head of planning at Prologis UK, tells PBC Today about her experience of a career in a male-dominated industry and the future prospects for bringing women into construction
“I think it’s very important for young women to see and be influenced by other successful women. Gender representation is something that is becoming increasingly important, both professionally and personally, so it is important to ensure that there is gender balance and representation in leadership positions.
Tell us about your career to date; What initially attracted you to the industry?
“When I was young in high school, I was first interested in geography, but the career possibilities this opened up were limited and I was encouraged to pursue something more professional. After completing my Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, I went to interview at planning and development consultancy, Lichfields, where I ended up working for 18 years.
“As I progressed through the company, I happened to work with several people at Prologis, on a number of projects, including phases two and three of the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), as well as Prologis Apex Park in the East Midlands. I didn’t know then that Prologis would become my employer a few years later.
“Having already had a foot in the door at Prologis, so to speak, when I learned that the company was recruiting an in-house fit-out specialist, I was excited by the prospect of a professional retraining. From an external point of view, I have been impressed by the culture and ethics of the company – the teams I have worked with at Prologis have always demonstrated integrity and transparency, two traits that are important to me, both as an employee and as an individual.
What can you tell us about your new job?
“I am the first head of planning at Prologis, which is exciting in itself. I may only be a few months and I’m still finding my feet, but I’m really enjoying the challenge my new role brings. On a day-to-day basis, I focus on growing new and existing projects, providing strategic overview and leading the planning elements of the company’s development pipeline. More generally, I work with the extended team to further strengthen and develop planning knowledge and understanding across the business. This is extremely satisfying for me, both as a planning specialist and as someone passionate about promoting gender diversity and social inclusion.
“In addition to work, I was able to travel with the company’s development and leasing team, visit the 22 Prologis parks and meet as many people as possible. During my first few weeks I attended a special event for Estate Agents in the Cotswolds which was a great opportunity for me to get to know the extended team and learn about all areas of the company.
“For example, I hadn’t realized that the company is involved in much more than the delivery of high quality logistics goods, it is also a leader in terms of commitment to environmental and social governance (ESG) and is involved in the development of specialized data centers and spaces for life science companies as well. I was also delighted to discover that the company invests heavily in skills development and training, through its warehouse and logistics training program at DIRFT and other locations in the UK and around the world.
“Overall, there are lots of exciting projects underway and, from a personal perspective, it’s great to use my key strengths in a new role.”
From a female perspective, would you say your gender has impacted your career in some way?
“Personally, I wouldn’t say my career has been impacted positively or negatively by being a woman. However, I am aware that my experience does not necessarily reflect that of other women in the real estate and construction industry.
“Throughout my career, I have been mentored by many successful and inspired people, the majority of whom have been men. However, for women entering the industry today, there are a large number of female role models embedded in many top companies, challenging assumptions about what it is like to work in the industry. ‘industry.
“In terms of confidence and career opportunities, I think it’s very important for young women to see and be influenced by other successful women. Gender representation is something that is becoming increasingly important, both professionally and personally, so it is important to ensure that there is gender balance and representation in leadership positions. It’s great to see companies in the sector, and society as a whole, moving in an increasingly diverse and inclusive direction.
Can you share some of your career highlights?
“Being promoted to Senior Manager at Lichfields was a particularly proud moment for me. I was the first female graduate to reach this level in the business and was promoted whilst pregnant with my second child. Another highlight of my career at Lichfields came when I was chosen to manage the development project for DIRFT, which is Prologis’ greatest asset in the UK.
“Balancing a full-time career with a family is not an easy task; it takes a lot of time management and prioritization. Fortunately, I have a very supportive partner. My hope is that my example will help other young people see that it is possible to manage the responsibilities of a young family and pursue professional and personal goals at the same time. One should not come at the expense of the other. »
What would you say to other young women considering a career in real estate and construction?
“This industry is incredibly varied and goes far beyond the simple construction of buildings. In addition to planning, there are plenty of opportunities to specialize and help real estate companies achieve their goals, and there really is something for everyone. This is a dynamic industry where there are many opportunities to innovate and pursue rewarding careers, and I hope more talented young people choose to join the industry.
“Throughout my career, I’ve interviewed a lot of people, so I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a good candidate. Communication skills are extremely important. Throughout your career, you’ll want to focus on building strong, positive relationships, and strong communication skills are an essential part of that. Other key skills to focus on include time management, attention to detail, and demonstrating business awareness. »
Do you have any other observations on what it takes to work in a male-dominated industry?
“The pandemic has completely changed the way we work. In my opinion, the shift to flexible working has been very positive. Balancing a family with young children and high-pressure work has created some testing moments over the past couple of years, but thankfully that’s over now and in the long run flexible working is here to stay.
“Overall, I look forward to doing my part to support efforts to improve gender diversity and social inclusion in the sector and I hope others will do the same.”