Completing our “Women in Decorating” series of interviews, we sat down with Katie to discuss her career change and her experience as part of our Management Trainees programme.
Please could you each provide a quick introduction to who you are and what your role with Bagnalls is?
I’m Katie Booth, a Contracts Manager at our Wolverhampton branch. I recently finished my third year in the Management Trainee programme at Bagnalls. I quickly got stuck into managing contracts and have been doing so ever since.
What attracted you to the painting and decorating industry?
Katie: I’ve always been interested in the property market and architecture. Whilst renovating my own property I took a very hands-on approach to managing the works, hiring contractors, and scheduling the stages of the project myself and found I enjoyed the process. When I saw a job advert on LinkedIn, I decided to apply as I had some relevant experience and skills, which led me to my career at Bagnalls.
How was entering the industry for you? How did your friends and family react?
Katie: People were initially confused! It was quite a sudden career change for me, but once they got over their surprise my family and friends were encouraging.
Can you give us an overview of some of your career highlights so far?
Katie: I’m proud to have been to university and completed my master’s degree in Business Management and Marketing. My involvement in the renovation of Resorts World in Birmingham was a definite highlight. The project was different, ambitious and creative, and went on to win the Retail category of the Johnstone’s Trade Painter of the Year Award 2020.
What is something you excel in or gives you fulfilment in your role?
Katie: I love seeing a project go from start to finish; it’s extremely satisfying to watch a location transform. Some of my most fulfilling projects have been working in care homes and mental health facilities, where I truly know that the work I do will make a real difference to the people there.
What’s the biggest lesson you have learnt or challenge you have overcome during your career?
Katie: Entering into a new role with no past experience in the sector was a challenge for me, although a welcome one. There is a noticeable lack of women in the painting and decorating industry, and I occasionally receive sweeping statements or surprised reactions when people find out that a woman will be managing their project, however, I prove with time on the job what I am capable of.
Who do you look at in the industry as a source of inspiration?
Katie: There are so many people within the company who have provided me with a wealth of knowledge and guidance. We have periodic conferences which have been invaluable in terms of receiving guidance from many different people.
Michaela Wain was on The Apprentice a few years ago and immediately inspired me; I’ve listened to many of her podcasts on women in construction which have been very influential.
Who has been your biggest supporter during your career?
Katie: Our contracts and branch managers have always been supportive of me. A lot of time goes into the training for Contracts Managers, and I’m proud to be part of a company so invested in personal development.
What advice would you give to women currently looking to join the painting and decorating industry?
Katie: Be yourself and always strive to be the best you can be. Stay up to date with the latest qualifications, industry standards and management skills as the time you invest in these will be invaluable. At the same time stay one step ahead and don’t shy away from opportunities as they arise; remember that everyone is human and it’s okay to make mistakes as you learn.
What’s your next career step from here?
Katie: I’ve just finished the final stages of my training programme, and am now stepping into my chosen career as Contracts Manager. Longer-term, I would love to become the main Contracts Manager at my branch.