Sam Jones, SIG Building Solutions’ commercial development director, tells RCI how she got into the steel roofing & cladding business, about her vision for SIG Building Solutions and discusses RISE – the grass-roots initiative to help women thrive in the industry.
How did you first get started in the industry and to your current position?
I joined the industry in 1998 when I made the decision to move back to the Northwest after working in the banking sector in London. I felt ready for a new challenge and took a pro-active sales role for a manufacturing company producing metal products for a range of sectors. I realised early on that this was an industry that I wanted to be part of for a very long time, and 25 years on I’m still here!
In 2006, I joined SIG Exteriors specialising in the distribution of industrial roofing products. SIG had identified roofing and cladding as growth areas, and began to build an in-house manufacturing division of established business with good track records and bags of expertise. Our in-house manufactured product range now makes up the backbone of our offer, although we also distribute a vast range of products manufactured outside the group.
How did your previous roles prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Supply into the construction sector is a unique environment – it gets in your blood. I’ve worked in a wide range of environments and gained experience from different perspectives – manufacturing, distribution, agricultural, industrial, commercial. Constantly learning about the diverse needs of my customers has been invaluable in my current role. I’ve learnt to be agile. Most of all, I appreciate that a solution-based approach is crucial which, as our brand suggests, is what we’re all about.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Without a doubt, it has been the creation of SIG Building Solutions as a cohesive customer facing brand. Although each of our operating companies have worked collaboratively for over a decade, bringing those capabilities together in a national offer is a huge achievement for us all.
We’ve drawn together our strong manufacturing businesses, underpinned their unique strengths and identities, and pulled together a comprehensive and diverse range of products and know-how which translates across all sectors, all serviced through one point of communication.
We’re relationship-driven, versatile, and committed to the growth of our colleagues and customers. SIG Building Solutions is a dynamic new powerhouse and I am excited to be a part of it!
What are the two key issues facing the future of the construction sector?
One of the greatest potential challenges on our radar currently comes from clients and contractors being faced with a myriad of complex financial challenges. Material cost inflation has brought its own issues, placing pressure on overall build costs and adding to cashflow issues as credit facilities are squeezed.
This, coupled with increased borrowing costs, could bring a new set of challenges in the next 6-18 months, potentially impacting the pace of growth within our industry.
One thing I’m sure many of us have learned in recent years is that the biggest challenges often come from left field – try as we might it’s impossible to prepare for every eventuality.
As an industry I know that we are hugely resilient and extremely agile, and confidence levels are high for another strong year despite challenges.
How do we get more women interested in joining the industry?
For me the key focus has to be on raising awareness organically, putting to rest misconceptions about the industry, being vocal from the inside out about what it offers to women who choose to build their careers here.
I can honestly say that being female in this environment has never felt like a disadvantage – but I am sensitive to the fact that this is not the case in all areas of our industry.
For this reason, myself and network of female colleagues have developed RISE, a women’s creator group which aims to encourage, empower and enable women within our workplace and the wider industry.
I’m immensely proud to be a founding member and one of seven RISE Ambassadors in our business – each of us is determined to support and inspire the women in our environment, embody what it means to thrive in this industry, as well as to find new ways to reach out and be an invitation for even more females to choose an interesting and fulfilling career path here.