TFT x Dress for Success: kickstarting careers


Career paths, just like life, don’t always take the expected route. That’s why we work to help people in our team and beyond it to find a new way forwards, to start a new career, or develop the skills they need to progress on their own path.

We teamed up with global charity Dress for Success to help support women looking to re-enter the workforce. We ran our first Career Day, welcoming 17 women to our offices for a day of learning, inspiration and advice designed to equip our guests with the skills and confidence to re-enter and thrive in today’s job market.

We kicked off the agenda with an introductory panel, where our team talked about the less conventional routes into their roles today. Then we ran sessions and workshops on everything from CV writing and interview skills to networking in a connected world.

Elsa Quinton, our Associate Director of Building Surveying, shared her unique journey into surveying, which began with a career pivot at the age of 30, after which she “effectively re-started my life, re-training and re-qualifying in a different industry and starting again at the bottom of the stack”.

Elsa’s story resonated with others in the room, and illustrates how different experiences can be brought to a new role, and why starting anew can be powerful even if it seems daunting. “The opportunity to help these women access new careers was exciting to me,” Elsa noted, emphasising her passion for training and developing others. Her role in the CV review process provided practical advice, giving our guests expert feedback to help their next applications.

Lorna Melton-Scott, Head of HR at TFT, gave a pragmatic approach to career progression, underscoring that success does not necessarily require high flying grades or a traditional academic path. Lorna’s segments on CV writing and interview preparation were particularly impactful. “It’s easy to forget how lucky we are,” Lorna reflected, touched by the gratitude and progress of the participants.

George Viner, a Graduate Building Surveyor, explained how he found surveying after a career switch, after more than 10 years as a self-employed tradesperson. George explained the highs and lows of his change in profession, then spent time talking with each of the guests to understand their journey and goals. A

“I was left feeling incredibly elated with a profound sense of community and a desire to continue to share my experiences with others in the hope to hear more of theirs. It left me considering the lack of open communication with the people around us and how talking more openly may help you and others!”

George Viner

Nicole Sedgley, Energy and Carbon Consultant, began the day by recounting her experiences as a woman progressing in a predominantly male course at university, through to securing her place at TFT. Her story highlighted the day’s objective: to build confidence and recognition of skills which we might undervalue in ourselves. Nicole found it especially rewarding to witness the transformation of attendees from nervous to empowered, a testament to the workshop’s impact.

“Reintroducing women to work environments after childbirth, career breaks, or any other reason that has put their career progression on pause should be met with both empathy and understanding, and practical support, which is what I believe the day did well.”

Nicole Sedgley

Jacqui Allen, who leads TFT’s Built Assets Consultancy, articulated the broader mission of the day, which was to directly engage with and support disadvantaged women. “The chance to work directly with disadvantaged women in the workplace doesn’t come along all that often,” Jacqui observed, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by many participants. Her dedication to making a tangible difference was clear, as she motivated everyone with her belief in hard work and determination.

This Careers Day not only provided practical skills but also instilled a sense of hope and direction for many of the talented and capable women who joined in because they were ready to make their mark. We’ll be working with those who need it to help write CVs, provide work experience and more in the future. Will our industry’s next great talent pivot into our industry – or our team – from somewhere else entirely? We hope so. Stay tuned!