Introducing Angela Welsman, Operations Manager on the Bristol Schools Project
I started at Vercity in October 2020, which was a strange onboarding experience because we were in the middle of COVID. I didn’t meet any colleagues for some time in person. The day-to-day work was all virtual. I was quite apprehensive when I had to come and meet people at one of the engagement days. It was a bit daunting.
I’m Operations Manager of six Bristol schools. Within the project we’ve got some retained estate and caretakers houses and all that goes with it. We’re in a steady state, which is good, but working on the schools is quite demanding. There are lots of variations to the contract and it keeps me on my toes.
My job role
My role involves day-to-day contract management, making sure that we’ve got contract compliance from the FM Co and making sure that the authority is working to their side of the contract.
Collaboration with the schools is a priority, we all work as a team to achieve the best outcome within the contractual constraints. I mediate and manage expectations, as well as walking the floor and checking room data sheets at regular intervals.
My career journey
I landed a job with a construction company as a site secretary, by chance after going travelling.
In 2008 there was the global recession and construction work dried up for a while. I had been made redundant. Through a friend I met with Skanska, who had only one PFI contract in Bristol, Building Schools for the Future. They said we’ve got a position for you, when can you start?
And the rest is history. I was working as site secretary for a couple of years, and then a position opened as a performance coordinator. And I jumped from the construction side to the investment side. I’ve been in the right place at the right time and when somebody else left, I took on this role for Vercity, which is more operational.
What differentiates Vercity?
It feels like a caring organisation, from the top down. People are genuinely interested in their colleagues. There is an emphasis on mental health (Angela is in the process of training as a Mental Health First Aider to support Vercity colleagues) and the principles of FREDIE (Fairness, Respect, Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Engagement) but it’s not forced on you, it just exists.
There is a lot of knowledge here, everybody understands the PFI/SPV Management industry, so it’s a good place to be in the marketplace. I’ve not had any issues and if I did, I know that I could talk to my own manager or a colleague, everyone is very approachable.
Volunteering with Scouts
I am an assistant group lead volunteer for Knowle West Scouts Group in Bristol. It’s in a deprived area of Bristol. We’ve got quite a few children with challenging behaviours.
It’s a change from my work life, although, managing the children sometimes isn’t dissimilar to managing a project.
I’m involved with helping the leaders planning the programme. For example, we’re taking the scouts to see The Lion King soon at Bristol Hippodrome. Something we applied for on the basis that not many of our children would have had the opportunity to go to a theatre and experience live entertainment like that. We were lucky enough to be offered some very cut-price tickets.
I make sure the other volunteer leaders have done their safeguarding training and help with fundraising ideas. Because we’re a voluntary organisation, we only get money from the subs that the children pay in. We ask parents for contributions towards trips and other activities, but the rest of the time we must go fundraising. So that could involve bag packing at the local supermarket or last year we did carol singing at B&Q.
I originally started off as an assistant in the Beavers section when my son started, and he’s now in Scouts. I planned to “retire” last year as being from being a Beaver leader, but I couldn’t stay away.
I was helping on the governance side in the Executive Committee, but I felt like I was missing out on spending time with the children. I’ve seen them grow from shy 6-year-olds to sometimes sassy 10- year-olds with lots of confidence because they’ve been coming to scouting and they’ve been learning how to do the sort of things you need to learn in life.
It’s been brilliant seeing them progress and challenge themselves with activities. One girl last year at camp was adamant she wasn’t going to go anywhere near the climbing tower. The next thing I knew, she’s abseiling down a 30-foot tower. In supporting the children it’s remarkable to witness what they can achieve. I find it very rewarding.
Careers at Vercity – Join us!
At Vercity, we encourage professional development and recruit for a wide range of roles across the UK, Canada and North America. Our workforce is diverse, we offer great benefits, flexible working and equal opportunities for talented individuals at all levels across a variety of disciplines.