Eiméar O’Flanagan, is Head of HR Operations at Cairn Homes plc.
Did you attend a college/university? If so, what did you study?
DIT, Bolton Street. Honours Degree in Architecture, qualifying just as the downturn kicked in. Further education in HRM, Employment Law and Industrial Relations.
How did you make the move into the construction industry?
I always had an passion for construction and design from an early age, it was a running joke in our family that I always picked the Lego growing up. Through my college years, in Architecture, it was a good mix of male and female across the course, it may even at some points have been weighted more heavily on the female numbers which was such an encouraging space to be in. The female mix less so in Bolton Street broadly, but it didn’t seem to faze anyone at the time, it was a very positive environment. Unfortunately I qualified out of a tough course in tougher time, but also fortunately for me I was able to upskill and diversify into a career in People Operations very quickly based on determination & development through college to work part time in other industries.
When I joined Cairn to support the set-up of the HR Function in 2017, we were still in start-up phase, immediately I knew I’d found my home in construction. The focus of my role was growing, supporting & developing our construction teams and central functions across multiple locations to deliver a great product and it was that vision and unwavering focus on the customer & community that sealed it for me. I was on the ground every day with our teams, still am, covering everything from talent acquisition, workforce planning, reward, performance and development to employment law, compliance & everything in between.
Would you recommend a move to construction to other women? If so, is there any advice you could share in relation to making the move?
There are so many avenues in this industry for women; in our organisation we have a strong representation across all functions from our construction site teams including site management, safety, commercial as well as technical, planning & design, customer and finance to name a few. Everyone in our business spends time on our developments, which really supports that collaborative way of working. If anyone is looking at making the move into construction, my advice is to seek out that site exposure as early as possible, don’t be afraid to diversify and do not give up. A favourite quote of mine is ‘by endurance we conquer’ by Ernest Shackleton, which is quite fitting really.