“It's not just a certificate; it's a symbol of breaking down gender stereotypes”

Today, VolkerHighways is celebrating as Becky Barnes, Customer Service Officer, achieves her HGV license – VolkerHighways’ first female HGV driver! We recently caught up with Becky, who works on our Wokingham highway term maintenance contract, as she shares some insight into her extra responsibilities and what this new qualification means to her.

Becky Barnes 1.jpg
Becky Barnes 1.jpg

When did you join VolkerHighways and what are your responsibilities as a Customer Service Officer?

I started my career with the business after being TUPED across from another main contractor in April 2019, as an office administrator. In 2021, I became a Customer Service Officer. My duties include managing customer enquiries through a digital platform, working closely with the operations team in dealing with two-hour emergency callouts and assisting with the highway safety inspections, in which I have Lantra Highways Safety Inspection City and Guilds qualification. I also deal with the public face to face, to manage their expectations and listen to their concerns relating to the safety of the highway.

In addition, I design repairs to ensure that the network is safe for longer periods of time, rather than just temporary repairs. I also undertake network stewardship for our client, where I report issues and the condition of their assets such as street lighting, across the highway.

Please tell us about your new role as an HGV driver…

While my role as a Customer Service Officer hasn’t changed, my qualification and training in HGV driving means I will be an integral part of our client’s winter services, including gritting and snow clearance.

Why did you decide to take on this additional responsibility?

Operations has always fascinated me, especially because on the Wokingham highway term maintenance contract, the winter service takes priority over anything else. In my role as a Customer Service Officer, the resident's safety is a key priority of mine, and I see this new role as an extension to this. I will be ensuring Wokingham residents are safe by making sure the network is free from snow, ice, or frost hazards.

Within the highway industry, operations is largely male dominated, which drives me (pun intended) to challenge the status quo and make it more accepting. I want women to be inspired that they are capable of this type of role.

As one of a very few female HGV drivers, what does this qualification mean to you?

Being one of a relatively few female HGV drivers, this qualification holds a great significance for me. It's not just a certificate; it's a symbol of breaking down gender stereotypes and proving that opportunities in traditionally male-dominated fields are not limited by one's gender. It is a statement that opportunities should be accessible to all, regardless of gender, and that anyone with the determination to pursue their dreams can succeed in any field they choose.

How did you find the training?

My experience of the training program was quite positive. Initially, I found the theory aspects to be the most challenging part of the training process. However, as I progressed and had the opportunity to apply the theoretical knowledge in practical scenarios, I noticed a significant improvement in my understanding and overall performance. The hands-on experience helped me bridge the gap between theory and practice, making the learning process more intuitive and enjoyable.

What support did VolkerHighways give you?

VolkerHighways provided me with valuable support throughout my training journey. Their support was instrumental in enabling me to focus on both the theory aspects of the training and the practical aspects related to driving. This support included allowing me the time and resources to study the theory aspects. They were accommodating in providing the necessary materials and access to training resources.

Why should other women consider becoming HGV drivers?

Becoming an HGV driver is not just a viable option for women; it's an opportunity to challenge stereotypes and contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Women can excel in this field just as much as men. So, to any woman considering it, the answer is a resounding "Yes, you should and can!"

I'm really proud to say that I am the first female winter gritter driver at VolkerHighways!