Female brick plant manager inspires industry change

8 March, 24
This International Women’s Day, Forterra is celebrating Charlotte Wood, Plant Manager at its Measham Brickworks in Leicestershire.

This International Women’s Day, Forterra is celebrating Charlotte Wood, Plant Manager at its Measham Brickworks in Leicestershire.

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women across the globe and raises awareness of the importance of securing fair opportunities for women and underrepresented groups. This year the theme is Inspire Inclusion.

Nottingham-born Charlotte, 53, brings a unique career trajectory to her current role. Her journey ventured outside the typical path for a plant manager, moving through diverse sectors such as food production, beverages, and healthcare, where she honed her skills in management, lean process improvement, and cultural change, before taking on the role of Plant Manager at Measham brickworks in January 2023.

Brickworks have traditionally been occupied predominantly by male workers, and a large proportion of careers in the industry rely on engineering and mathematics-related qualifications, in which women are still underrepresented.

“I think those stereotypes can deter many women from entering an industry such as this one,” says Charlotte. “When people are deterred from even considering a particular career, it becomes a significant barrier against inclusion.

“I was of course apprehensive about starting this new role, and I didn’t know extraordinary amounts about brickmaking when I joined. With my 23 years of extensive experience in leadership, improvement and development, though, I knew I was more than capable.

“I can confidently say that, contrary to the stereotypes, I’ve felt so welcome at Measham. There’s such a strong team here and such a strong sense of community, with several employees being long-servers for 30 years or more, and many others being the second or even third generation from their family to work there. What’s inspiring is that this sense of tradition hasn’t at all proved a barrier to inclusion in my case. Measham is a testament to the fact that honouring tradition and effecting change can and should complement one another.”

“Endless bureaucracy at previous roles prevented real change, but at Forterra there’s scope to really impact things,” adds Charlotte. “The organisation is on a great cultural journey, focused on driving an improvement in its values and ensuring it continues manufacturing excellence.”

Since she became plant manager, Charlotte has expanded the number of female workers within the Measham team of 66 employees.

“We’ve always had a female electrician on shift and a female Administration Manager, but we now also have a female employee who’s joining as part of our Continuous Improvement Scheme, and an Engineering Planner. This is still a fairly low number, but it’s much higher than it’s ever been, and I look forward to hiring even more talented women.

“The manufacturing industry has a vast array of career trajectories, from programming to environmental planning to administration to copywriting. The point is, it isn’t all about operating machinery and heavy lifting, valuable as these things are. There are countless opportunities for all sorts of people in this industry, and it’s in the industry’s own interests to open out recruitment to as large a talent pool as possible.

“Through our mentorship, apprenticeship programs, and community outreach initiatives, we can inspire the next generation to consider careers in manufacturing, showcasing the diverse opportunities available,” says Charlotte.

“I’ve always believed that diversity drives innovation and progress. My goal is to dismantle the barriers that discourage women from pursuing careers in manufacturing and demonstrate that our industry offers fulfilling, diverse, and rewarding opportunities.”

Forterra is continuously seeking new ways to build a fairer working environment and invest in the future of its employees.

For more information on International Women’s Day visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

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