As a Project Surveyor at Avi Contracts LtdAnjali Pindoria is one of the industry’s most inspiring and influential figures. A UK Construction Week Role Model in 2019, Anjali is a proud advocate for diversity and inclusion in the industry and uses her platform to promote the sector positively and dispel some of the myths surrounding construction. Anjali is recognised as an inspiring figure in the industry and is a member of multiple committees across the sector, whilst speaking on multiple different stages and platforms to raise awareness.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with Anjali and pick her brain on how she got into construction and what her goals are.

Tell us about your personal experience and career history. How did you get into the industry and what were your routes in?

My name is Anjali Pindoria and I am a Project Surveyor at a family run carpentry and joinery subcontractor, Avi Contracts Ltd. My entry into construction has been far from conventional. My Father works in the industry and he was my real inspiration, as from a young age me and my siblings were exposed to drawings to help him do take off’s. I followed school protocol and had to apply for university, opting to study Business with Accounting, but my heart was always in going down the apprenticeship/trainee route. Two weeks into my course, I felt lost and unhappy, so I took the plunge to join Avi Contracts Ltd and I haven’t looked back since.

I have grown at the firm from a Trainee Surveyor to Project Surveyor, working on some of London’s most prestigious landmarks as well as hospitals and schools that serve communities. To gain my educational foundations, I did a two year part time HNC in Construction and the Built Environment at the College of North West London. I was then able to top this up with a three year part-time degree in Quantity Surveying and Commercial Management. It taught me a lot, and I developed as a person having to juggle work and another part-time job, all whilst studying and making time for my social life and hobbies. Many sacrifices were made along the way, but without this I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Tell us about your goals

My passion lies within promoting construction positively, and ensuring that the truth is conveyed to the public instead of myths about our industry. Perceptions from home influence the youth, and in some cases the pressure from parents wanting their children to be in a stereotypical career has steered many away from industries like ours. This has driven me to raise awareness of the numerous opportunities within construction to inspire the next generation.

My advocacy for diversity and inclusion led me to join multiple committees across the sector, whilst also speaking on different stages and platforms to continue raising awareness. I have participated in podcast talks, and featured in media and campaigns including FutureMade for the CITB, to showcase different people in our industry. My work has been recognised and awarded, my most prestigious awards being the Constructors Prize and Journeyman Constructor by the Worshipful Company of Constructors. I am also a UK Construction Week Role Model.

My goal is to try and break the traditional mind-set of these parents by visually representing BAMEs, women and the youth. These are three tick boxes that I represent, which are currently neglected in our industry but vital in helping to reduce the the skills gap. There is a clear need for a voice, and I want to be just that, asking for the change.

What routes in are there currently that you know about? What advice you would give to anyone starting out and where can they go to get resources?

The routes to enter into the built environment are much more advanced than they were when I was looking. I think the sector is doing more to actively look for apprentices and trainees, however, we still have a lot of work to do to increase these numbers as well as support them once they’re in the sector.

T Levels are due to launch this September, which is something I would have definitely done if it was an option for me. This route allows students straight out from their GCSE’s to get a mix of classroom and on-the-job learning, similar to apprenticeships, with many built environment courses available. There are also many Colleges and Sixth Forms that have now expanded what they offer and how they support students.

For individuals considering getting into the built environment, my first piece of advice would be to use the tools available to you, such as the career explorers section through the Go Construct page, and read up about the different career options. The industry has so many different roles which a lot of people aren’t aware of, so doing research is the first point of call to ensure that you go for the right job!

For those who have decided to join and are just starting out, my advice is to embrace every moment of working in the sector. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get heavily involved in everything you do because knowledge is power! Get stuck in and take all the opportunities that come your way. The sector is large and the amount of opportunities and variety of work that you will be exposed to at a young age will allow you to expand your knowledge bank. Use your time early on in your career to learn.

During the pandemic, how has your role adjusted (if at all) and what have you been doing in your free time?

During the pandemic, we have all had to adapt whilst trying to still carry out our usual tasks and duties. The biggest change I saw was the way we had to start working on site whilst considering social distancing. Some parts of the job rely on having two people within two meters, which made it difficult to rethink how we build. In addition to thinking about how we physically build on site, COVID is making us rethink the way we design buildings, reconsidering spatial awareness and those around us.

Meetings using digital platforms have been great, as it has freed up time for other things rather than travelling from site to site. Outside of work this has given me more free time to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. It took a global pandemic and lockdown to make me stop and break that busy cycle, and reflect on how fast-paced life is!

I’ve been continuing my Taekwondo training and fitness classes in our newly transformed home gym, even grading successfully for my Red Belt. I also decided to uptake on a NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Equality and Diversity, to help keep my mind active. I’ve also found time to read books, finally starting the Bhagavad Gita. My family and I have been enjoying long walks and taking the time to appreciate nature. My mum has also been teaching me new recipes in the kitchen. Obviously it wouldn’t have been a pandemic without a weekly quiz and scavenger hunt which has been very educational. And of course, I’ve been staying within my taped squares!