Having worked on projects for some of the world’s largest companies, negotiated a management buyout and played a part in delivering a multi award-winning building, Jeanette MacIntyre shares her story with SCN.
Give us an overview of your career so far
I qualified in Interior Design from Napier University, Edinburgh and completed the Graduate Enterprise course ran by Scottish Enterprise at Stirling University before setting up my first company. After Into Design, my Edinburgh based consultancy business, I then joined the Interiors Division of Tarmac Construction in 1987, where I worked on larger projects for some of the blue-chip companies based in Scotland, including Compaq, Motorola, and IBM. I also worked with the government’s Property Services Agency on a number of public buildings. This led to me working with their design teams to refurbish Scottish Courts, Customs and Excise, Benefits Agency and Military Centres.
In 1993 I became one of the founding directors of Zenith Contract Interiors, a design and all trades fitting out company which grew to become one of Scotland’s most successful interior specialists at that time. At the core of Zenith’s growth in the market was the specialist internal glazing system DEKO of Denmark, a skilfully engineered, minimalistic glass screen system. In 2000, that became DEKO Scotland, specialising in the interior application of glass. In 2013 I negotiated a management buyout of the company to become its major shareholder and in 2017 rebranded to create Indeglas, aligning the service offering of the business with its key customers and to reflect the company’s status within this specialist sector of the construction industry.
Highlight some of the large scale projects you’ve been involved in
Last year I completed one of the largest projects I’ve been involved with – the installation of internal glass screens at City of Glasgow College with a single contract value of over £1 million. Working with Reiach and Hall Architects and the construction team at Sir Robert McAlpine we developed the design intent and engineered the installation of a wide variety of high performance glass screens, some providing as much as 2 hours resistance to fire. The project has won multiple awards, including the 2017 Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) and Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Award for best current Scottish architecture. Current large scale projects include the Data Technology Institute for University of Edinburgh and a five story office development for Allstate in Belfast which account for a further turnover value of over £1m.
What are your hopes for your career in the future?
An exciting opportunity exists for me to grow Indeglas geographically, having been appointed the key distributor of the DEKO glazed screen product for the entire UK and Ireland. I have already exhibited in Dublin which brought an amazing response and last year I appointed a technical manager in the Midlands with a view to securing further work with existing and new construction partners in England.
Advanced technology and production techniques consistently bring new high performance glass specifications to market. It’s exciting to explore how these can be applied architecturally, using glass to enhance work and public space by bringing natural light and general wellbeing to its occupants as an engineered, completely sustainable solution.
What are your thoughts on the sector in terms of the number of females working in general and in higher positions?
The situation is improving with an increasing number of women working in architecture and design, engineering and surveying. That said, I am conscious that female representation is still extremely low in the boardrooms, and senior levels of construction companies. I believe that the industry as a whole would benefit massively by encouraging more women to senior management. Construction has, historically, been a male-dominated environment and the fresh ideas that would result from female hands on more of the tillers can only help the industry thrive.
Could more be done to encourage women into construction?
We need to promote positive role models and foster engagement at school and during further education. I, and other women in construction, need to demonstrate the possibilities in both mainstream and specialist sectors of the industry. Efforts by the Scottish Government, and some private initiatives, to encourage school-age girls to consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) have shown results, but there needs to be large scale encouragement from the board room to the building site to refute the notion that construction is a “boy’s job”.
As an employer what have you done to facilitate this?
I am pleased to report that our management team is currently 50% women. We are engaged with CITB in encouraging a more specialist element to the apprenticeships currently being offered. It would be encouraging and very positive for the industry as a whole to be able to introduce more girls at this and every other level. Opportunities exist for CITB to effectively promote the sector via school, college and university careers advisors.
Catch up with the rest of Scottish Construction Now’s International Women’s Day feature here.