Women in Construction – Denise Fleming

November 15, 2022
Denise Fleming, Project Manager.
Denise Fleming, Project Manager.

At Acorn Property Group we support women in the construction industry – here we chat to Denise Fleming on her role and career path, how she feels about being a woman in an industry that is still very male dominated and her top tips for progression.

Can you tell us a little more about you – your background and career path to your current role?

My role currently is Project Manager for Acorn Blue, the Cornish region of Acorn Property Group.

I started my career in Civil Engineering – I worked for the Highways Department of Cornwall Council for 7 years with a 2-year break where I went to work as a Highways and Drainage Engineer for a Civil Engineering company.

I have worked for Acorn for 9 years and initially started off as a Construction Facilitator helping the construction team with orders, utility searches and applications, planning history information and generally assisting the Construction Director and Project Managers. I was then asked if I would help with the aftercare procedures, logging defects and liaising with customers after they first move into their home. Following this, when the Finishing Foreman retired from Acorn, I was asked to take over alongside my existing aftercare role.

In 2017, I was asked if I would like to become a Project Manager – excited at this opportunity, I undertook a master’s degree in Construction Project Management. Since then, I have worked as a Project Manager at Acorn Blue working on the commercial unit and the several apartments at The Liner in Falmouth, getting the project to completion. I then moved onto The Courtyard at Duporth, which was unfortunately closed for eighteen months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but subsequently re-opened in January this year – I am currently finishing work here before moving onto an exciting new project called Arcady in Newlyn.

Can you describe what a typical day on site looks like?

A typical day on site is busy – when I’m not liaising with sub-contractors, clients, sales teams and the management team, I’m ordering materials and scheduling work, determining labour requirements for each part of the project and chasing the relevant parties for dates and information.  I review the project everyday, which involves monitoring the progress and overcoming any problems that arise from a design or build perspective, as well as carrying out site inductions, toolbox talks and meetings.

Last but not least, I always ensure sure Health & Safety guidelines are followed and the relevant paperwork is in place.

It sounds like it’s a busy role, which I imagine can be challenging. What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your role while working at The Courtyard and how did you overcome this?

The biggest challenges have been getting trades people back to work on site following Covid 19. There are limited companies in Cornwall so everyone is extremely busy, therefore demand is high and resources are stretched.  There have also been challenges in sourcing materials and getting utility companies to provide their services.

The only way to overcome these issues is persistence – constantly chasing trades, utility companies and sourcing materials. Finding ways to work around any delays to bring forward other areas of the project to try to keep things moving along.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your role?

This most enjoyable part of my role is seeing the progress on site and knowing that all the effort and hard work is worth it when you can physically see the end result.

How does it feel to be a female in a typically male dominated role?

Whilst there are more and more women coming into construction, it’s still a very male dominated profession – especially on site. It would be great to see more women coming into the profession – many professional sectors in the industry are trying to address the issues around the gender pay gap and inequality, whilst supporting women to progress within the industry and introducing flexible working solutions. It’s especially encouraging that women who already work in construction are helping to share their own personal experiences, knowledge and advice on social media platforms to encourage more woman to get on board.

My own personal experience has at times been challenging as I don’t come from a trade background. Some people feel that you should have a trade background and work your way up as a Site Manager and then progress to be a Project Manager.  I disagree, academically I am qualified, and every day is a learning day, obviously I don’t know everything but who does! I’m a quick learner and you work as a team on site and help each other – we all have different strengths and weaknesses, and everyone must start somewhere. Some days are more challenging than others, finding solutions and overcoming problems is all part of the job and that’s what I really enjoy.


What are your top tips for any other women wanting to get into the construction industry?

My top tips would be – do your research and speak to as many people as possible in the industry to gain an insight into what is involved. Look at all the different possibilities that there are in the construction industry, whether this is being a consultant or working as a trades person or going into management, there are so many different sectors so be open minded.

More and more companies are introducing flexible working patterns to help women with children work in construction, sometimes long hours are involved so that is something to be aware of.

All in all,

–         Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice.

–         Don’t think construction is just for men, it’s not.

–         Make sure you get all the training and support you need.

–         You will occasionally get negative comments, you need to be able to rise above it and ignore them and not be too sensitive.

Above all, be determined and don’t give up!


If you’re interested in joining Acorn Property Group, view our careers page here 


Related Posts

See all

Topping Out Ceremony at The Old Printworks

On the 12th September, we reached a momentous milestone in the development of The Old Printworks in Frome where we hosted a 'Topping Out' ceremony to celebrate the completion of the first two phases
More >>

Frome Artist Living at The Old Printworks Selected for Hollywood Film

A Frome artist has etched an exciting new chapter in the story of The Old Printworks after receiving the Hollywood seal of approval for his artwork Tim Slatter moved into a house at The Old Printwo
More >>

Bristol Civic Society Award

BROOKS DYE WORKS DEVELOPMENT WINS BRISTOL CIVIC SOCIETY DESIGN AWARD  The regeneration of the historic Brooks Dye Works in St Werburghs, has won the prestigious Bristol Civic Society Design Award
More >>

A Spotlight on Wiltshire

A Spotlight on Wiltshire Landlocked between Somerset, Dorset, Berkshire and Gloucestershire, Wiltshire is the county that has been the South West’s best kept secret, however with superb walks, a tr
More >>

Urchfont – The Wiltshire Village Full of English Charm

Nestled in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside, sits Urchfont, a picturesque village exuding quintessential English charm Named ‘Best Kept Village’ several times in Wiltshire’s Best Kept V
More >>

Construction Milestone at St. Leonards Quarter, Exeter

St Leonards Quarter in Exeter recently celebrated a momentous milestone in the development of new homes, with a topping out ceremony Set just a mile outside of the bustling Exeter city centre,  th
More >>

Spotlight on London

London is no doubt, one of the most attractive cities in Europe, in fact, the world Offering rich history, iconic landmarks and diverse cultures, it is no wonder people from all over the globe flock t
More >>

Spotlight on South Wales

A Spotlight on South Wales Picturesque countryside stretches for miles across hills and wooded valleys, whilst rolling waves crash on shifting sands, South Wales is known for its beautiful landscap
More >>

Meet the team at The Old Printworks

Quirky independent shops, picturesque Somerset countryside and a strong sense of community – are just some of the reasons that make Frome such an attractive destination Named by The Times as the
More >>

Q&A With Internorm

With our impact on the environment being at the forefront of our minds, we are thrilled to be working with some fantastic companies who care about sustainability and climate change as much as we do In
More >>

Q&A With Worcester Bosch

Here we talk to Ben Conyers, New Build Sales Manager from Worcester Bosch Worcester Bosch are pioneering manufacturers of energy efficient heating and hot water solutions, here we discuss mechanical e
More >>

Giving homes a new lease of life

Giving old buildings a new lease of life is our forte at Acorn and has become our USP in the housebuilding industry – it is this uniqueness that makes us true to our ethos of ‘different by design
More >>