Infl uential industry women | FOCUS

Stephnie Judge, MD, Victorian Plumbing Q & A

Q: Did you ever feel like your gender was a help or a hindrance in making it to the role of MD? A: My journey to this role has felt like a whirlwind. Coming into the business in 2013 as PA to the MD [Judge’s predecessor and company founder Mark Radcliffe] at a critical period in the company’s growth I was able to witness and be heavily involved in so many aspects of the business that I had never come across before. This gave me a fantastic insight on how to manage the development of the business and I thrived on the diversity of the role. I don’t feel that my gender hindered my progression, despite the industry being male-led.

Q: What role do you think Victorian Plumbing has to play in championing gender equality in the KBB industry? A: I am proud to be part of a culture that can lead the way for gender equality. In this company, we value employees for their talents, not their gender and I believe that other companies should realise what women have to offer to leadership in the workplace. We

want to encourage

everyone in our business to reach their potential.

Q: Why do you think there are so few women in top roles in the KBB industry? A: Typically, our industry has had a very close relationship with trade professions that were traditionally male-oriented. The lack of women in senior positions isn’t just evident in this industry – globally, women are under-represented on boards, holding less than 20% of board seats.

Q: How would the KBB industry benefi t from having more women in top roles? A: Diversity can harbour creativity and

Q: What advice would you give to women who are aiming for top positions in the industry? A: Know your worth. Don’t give into self- doubt. Remember, your skills and experience offer employers value.

Q: Do you feel you have a role to play in encouraging women to aim for the top? A: I would love to encourage more women in the industry to think about moving into a more senior role. Don’t wait for progression to happen – use your strengths to own your career path and development. Put yourself forward and show your employer that you want to be considered.

innovation. This industry thrives on those things. Inevitably, women and men will have different experiences that shape what they can bring to the table – it makes sense to use both in the workplace.

Q: What do you think women at board level can bring to the industry? A: The diversity that comes from women at board level means that the board can make more balanced, representative decisions. Diverse viewpoints drive more well- informed outcomes.

Q: As a woman, what do you believe you bring to Victorian Plumbing? A: I believe everyone has strengths and it’s my job to help fi nd those strengths in people and nurture them. I value collaboration, encouragement and clear communication in the workplace. I enjoy fi nding ways to develop our talent and watching them tune into their aspirations.

Q: What advice would you give to any women starting out in business? A: Look for the learning experience in everything – starting out may be tough, you may not always get it right, but it’s important to look at every setback as a learning experience. It will help you to develop your knowledge or skill set.

Hattie Hasan MBE, plumber and founder of Stopcocks, a national company of women plumbers

here are a lack of role models and a lack of encouragement – for everyone in this industry, but especially for anyone who isn’t ‘the norm’ – like female plumbers, for instance. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it. That’s one of the reasons why I set up Stopcocks Women Plumbers in 1990. When I started out in the industry, no one would give me a job. When I called about vacancies, people assumed I was calling on behalf of my husband or son. When I told them it was me that was interested in the position, the vacancies suddenly disappeared. So, I set up on my own and called my business Stopcocks Woman Plumber.


Once I had a website, and was more visible online, women started contacting me about how they could become plumbers.

The demand for tradeswomen is high. According to Watersafe, 31% of women would prefer a female plumber

I believe really strongly that women don’t just make great tradeswomen, but that they’re excellent at dealing with customers – and, because women are used to multitasking and running a home, they can be great businesswomen too. I always wanted to help other women become self-employed plumbers. Stopcocks Women

Plumbers has always been about bringing all these things together. Off the back of the success of Stopcocks, I’ve arranged networking events and three national, full-day conferences for women in the trade and even plan to launch a tradeswomen’s college in the near future as well. The demand for tradeswomen is high. According to a study

The diversity that comes from women means that a board can make more balanced decisions. Diverse viewpoints drive more well- informed outcomes

by Watersafe, 31% of women would prefer a female plumber to carry out work in their home. The survey also found that 59% of consumers feel positive about women taking up trade roles. Of the 2,000 women surveyed, 38% said if they had their time again, they’d take up a trade themselves. Yet the estimate is that only 1% of those actually working ‘on the tools’ are women. Women often feel they are unusual for wanting to be in trades. They need to be among others who are experiencing the same thing, so they all have a common frame of reference and can help and support each other. A women-only environment will give bigger numbers of women the opportunity to train, gain competence and get out there. The next stage, however, is the launch of The National Register of Tradeswomen. The register is a way to count all tradeswomen in UK (in jobs and self-employed), to enable householders to fi nd competent, verifi ed tradeswomen (visit

There is a dreadful shortage of skilled people in the KBB

industry. It makes sense to broaden the pool and encourage under-represented groups to join, especially women. 

March 2021 ·

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