Willmott Dixon Interiors’ hosts an annual Trainee Challenge, where Management Trainee’s can volunteer to lead on a project that will leave a legacy in the local community.
The challenge is supported by our people and Supply Chain Partners donating money and time. This year, Abi Inskip, Design Management Trainee, was chosen to lead the challenge, titled ‘ The Power of Green.’
In this blog, Abi speaks on her experience of leading the challenge and what it involved.
Design Management Trainee
Trainee Challenge 2022 Lead
What made you want to lead the trainee challenge?
I decided to put myself forward to run the Trainee Challenge for this year as it is a great opportunity to give back to the communities we work in and manage the trainee team. The Challenge I proposed to run directly supports our pre-construction team in terms of furthering our offering within social value and sustainability, whilst also supporting those specific teams. Further to this, as I am in my penultimate year of my trainee scheme, this is also a great way to get exposure internally, but also with key external stakeholders including our supply chain and consultants to support my career.
What did your project involve?
The Challenge was broken into four key projects – Langthorne Park, Project Zero, Norton Hall and Lime Academy. Each of these supports the Better Planet and Building Lives themes of our Now or Never strategy. These can also be used as pilots for future concepts to deliver Social Value and Sustainability for our projects. In total, these four projects were conducted during 5 weeks of delivery. Further to the four projects, the Challenge also involved planning Learning and Development for our internal people, together with donations of pre-loved toys and running Employability Sessions.
How did you plan the project?
Whilst still working on a project full time, I planned the project in and around my day-to-day tasks initially, before this became my full-time role for three and a half months. Through discussions with my Director, I outlined what I wanted to get from the Challenge and focused on four key areas – having an impact on everyone in the business, building my personal brand, understanding disability and the power of green. These key areas allowed me to focus my ideas before reaching out to find projects. Initially with my ideas focused on a refurbishment of an outside space in Walthamstow and Birmingham, I had to find some key contacts to help me find a location. Once in contact with the correct individuals at Waltham Forest Council and at Birmingham City University, I established my brief for the project, and we began working together closely to find projects that fit the brief. With four projects, I needed a lot of support from the current trainees. Through 1-2-1s with them all, I identified key leads from both Operational and Surveying disciplines for each of the projects. This allowed me to have a more holistic overview of the Challenge as a whole, with the individual leads focusing on their own project. At this point, it was also made clear that further operations support was required. To support the leads, an Operations Manager was also allocated to support each individual project as a secondary line of support for both myself and the specific project leads.
What was your highlight?
The highlight of the Challenge for me, has been providing life changing spaces for the communities we have worked within. There have been some great relationships built with the beneficiaries we have worked with, which I hope to see continue into the future.
What were the key challenges?
Personally, the key challenges were time management, working with my peer group and managing the commercial side of the Challenge. Whilst working on my day job and planning the Challenge, I had to be very strict with my time to deliver to deadlines. This has taught me a great deal about how to plan out my time in the future. Working within a peer group is hard, but ultimately a great skill to have developed. Working with friends may not always be easy, but it is massively rewarding when you deliver an amazing project as a real team of friends. As a Design Management trainee, managing the commercial side of the project has been a real learning curve for me, allowing me to focus on wish lists, collating donations and distributing money between the project was a massive task. I am ever so grateful for the support I received from the commercial trainees during this time.
How do you feel after leading the challenge?
I am very proud of the Challenge that I delivered and grateful for the opportunity to have done this. It has helped develop my own skill set, but also allowed me to support the growth of my peers’ skills too. Supporting communities that really needed better access to green space has been an incredible experience as I know that the work we have done has been truly appreciated by the beneficiaries and local community.
Well done to all of the team involved in the Trainee Challenge this year.