International Women’s Day: Plant Manager at Building Products Manufacturer Encourages Women into Manufacturing Industry

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Whilst females working in manufacturing have increased steadily recent years, the proportion is still significantly lower than men, something Forterra Plant Manager Nicki Durrans is keen to see change.

Nicki, 38, has been working in the manufacturing industry for 18 years in a broad range of roles, including health and safety, human resources and quality assurance.

After joining Forterra in 2020, Nicki was quickly promoted from production manager to plant manager of our Thermalite manufacturing site in Newbury.

Nicki says that although she understands the perception that a male dominated industry could create barriers for women, it hasn’t been her own experience, “My eyes are not closed to the prejudice that does exist – I have often called it out when I’ve seen or heard it – however, I believe it is usually a case of subconscious biases and perceptions, which most people accept and understand when they are spoken to about it.

“I think there is a perception that women can only work in certain departments and roles; for example, roles that are perceived as physically demanding are often seen as a ‘man’s job’. In my experience, however, it is just down to the individual – gender doesn’t come into it.”

Nicki felt encouraged to apply for a job with Forterra after researching the business and discovering an article about women in industry and its track record of promoting women into senior roles. It also offered an insight into their processes that ensure women across the business are recognised and biases challenged.

Nicki says, “Knowing that a traditionally male-dominated organisation is doing a lot to promote women sold it to me instantly. My experience of working at Forterra’s Newbury site has only reinforced my positive opinion of the company. Not only was I promoted very quickly, but I have been able to promote and recruit the right people into roles I believe they will do well in, regardless of gender.

Nicki’s advice for women looking to enter the manufacturing industry: “Don’t let your – or other people’s – perception of these industries stop you! There are opportunities for men and women alike. If, like me, you have a passion for manufacturing and a determination to succeed, then any potential barriers are easy to navigate, and this is especially true here at Forterra.”

Forterra Chief Executive, Stephen Harrison, says, “As an organisation, we endeavour to stamp out the age-old stereotype that the manufacturing industry is male dominated – we have many women who work out on our sites as well as in office-based roles.

“We have a range of opportunities here and we want to remind women that every one of them is open to them, and if they believe they are capable then they should apply – gender never has been, and never will be, a barrier.

“Both Laura and Nicki are amazing case studies for this year’s International Women’s Day, and set an example for the rest of the industry to follow.”

For more insight into careers at Forterra, visit:

Image Credit:

Copyright Mike Sewell 2022. 3rd March 2022. Photograph for International Women’s Day. Pictured is Nikki Durrans, Plant Manager at the Forterra Newbury Brick Works.

(For Hannah Elwell – Unsworth Sugden)