An impressive leap from document controller to project manager in just five years

Kay Warhurst, from Leigh in Lancashire, got her first taste of construction at the age of 21 working as a Safe Control of Operations writer in Balfour Beatty’s utility sector.

Now, at the age of 29, she is an accomplished assistant project manager, overseeing one of Murphy’s biggest rail projects in the north of England.

We caught up with her to find out more about how she made the impressive leap from document controller to project manager in just five years with Murphy.

Kay said: “I joined Murphy as a document controller in 2012 and worked for two years on fixed telecommunications. It was then that I realised I had more of a civil engineering eye than I first thought and that I really wanted to progress within the industry”

“I’d heard good things about Murphy when I applied for the job and one main thing that attracted me to the company was the family ethos. That was something that I sensed as soon as a stepped into my interview. It turns out it’s been the best move I’ve ever made!”

In 2014, Kay’s diligent and positive attitude on site was recognised by her line manager and the two began to look into options for further learning and how best Kay could progress her career.

“Brian ended up moving onto another big contract and I moved on to assist another project manager, Alistair Weir, as a senior administrator on a project in Stafford. I knew straight away this would be a very challenging project and felt it was my opportunity to get recognised within the company.”

Kay heaps praise on Alistair for the way in which he mentored her, trusting and challenging her day in, day out.

“After putting in a lot of work and learning so much from Alistair I decided to speak with Murphy’s rail director about the possibility of going back to college to study civil engineering – he agreed, and encouraged and supported me, which was fantastic.”

Kay signed up to a two-year course working towards a HNC in Civil Engineering at Wigan and Leigh College.

Kay on site at Blackpool
Kay on site at Blackpool

“It was a hard couple of years – I was working in different parts of the country and studying two nights a week in Wigan. Finally, in July 2016, I passed with a distinction – a grade I never thought I would get!”

While she was studying the work in Stafford came to an end and Kay got her first big break as she moved on to project manage an earthworks and drainage scheme in Todmorden. She then assisted in project managing the reconstruction Doxey Brook railway underbridge in Stafford.

As that scheme finished, Kay heard Murphy might be bidding for the North West Electrification Scheme Phase 3 and knew she wanted to play a part in securing the work.

“I got involved and worked very hard with the tender team to secure the bid. It was such a good feeling to hear we had won the work, made even sweeter now that I’m the assistant project manager overseeing things at Blackpool”

Kay credits her colleagues for her success though it is clear to see she has carved out her own achievements and taken every available opportunity.

So what is Kay’s advice to anyone looking to move upwards in the construction industry?

“The construction industry is very big and fast moving so yes it has its challenges - the work would just be average and boring if it didn’t! My advice to anyone would be to believe in yourself. If you have an end goal, push yourself to get there. Yes, that may mean working the extra shifts, working weekends, working till late at night - or even through the night - but hard work won’t go unrecognised as long as you have the right support along the way.”

Completing the Junior Warrior 3K Run
Completing the Junior Warrior 3K Run
replacing rail sector on project.

Transportation at Murphy

From renewals to electrification, bridge building, highways and aviation, our award-winning Transportation team has extensive experience. With a proud history dating back to the 1960s, Murphy Transport is a multi-disciplinary specialist, working across rail, highways, aviation and ports to deliver sustainable solutions.

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