Meet the Retrofitter: Alice Monty, Head of Retrofit Technical Solutions at Equans
To give those considering a career in retrofit a better understanding of what it takes to become qualified, we spoke to Alice Monty, the Head of Retrofit Technical Solutions at Equans to discuss her personal journey within the industry.
As one of the first people to be upskilled by her employer and receive the Level 5 diploma in Retrofit Coordination and Risk Management, Alice has first-hand seen the benefits of bringing skills inhouse.
Alice is now responsible for a team of PAS 2035 certified retrofitters of all qualifications to complete some of the biggest housing decarbonisation projects across the UK. This is what she had to say:
What were the key experiences that helped shape your career path?
Before I received my retrofit qualifications, I practised as a qualified domestic energy assessor and SAP modeller for a few years. During this time, my team at Equans had developed our own form of technical surveys and a retrofit service for clients before the introduction of PAS 2035. When the guidelines came out, it fit perfectly with what we were already doing so it was a no-brainer that we would upskill staff with retrofit qualifications and bring those specialist roles in-house.
I completed the retrofit coordinator course when I was furloughed during the pandemic in 2020, which was beneficial for me as it gave me a focus. After completing the course, I managed our first project later that year using the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.
I found leading that project really challenging at first as I didn’t have anyone more senior to ask for help as the qualification was so new. As a result, I led by translating PAS 2035 to all of our operations and site teams. I had to do a lot of on-the-job learning and was lucky enough to have a great team of people around me, some of whom have also completed the retrofit coordinator course. We were all learning together which was great and I still feel like whenever we’re approaching a new scheme, we’re all kind of learning together anyway.
What are the biggest challenges that you face in your role?
I’d say that the biggest challenge that we face is that PAS is still a relatively new concept. There’s a lack of experience and knowledge amongst client’s operations teams even though there are great courses coming out. If you don’t have prior experience behind it, some of the pieces just don’t add up. It’s a bit like driving, you can get all the theory right, but it doesn’t make sense until you’re out on the road and faced with those real-life challenges.
You do quite a lot of internal coaching and development. Does that help you to stay on top of new trends, new materials, and new technologies coming into the industry?
Yes, definitely. We’re always looking for new technologies and trends. Actually, we recently organised a CPD session with our lovely subcontractor partners on cavity wall insulation and intend to do more of the same with other related products and concepts that can help in the retrofit space.
How do you approach this skills gap challenge at Equans?
We do a lot of internal shadowing and internal training before we put people on the training courses, and this has helped them progress quicker. As well as this, we also take on people from Generation UK, which is a great initiative charity that has been working with Retrofit Academy to get people from all different backgrounds into retrofit, especially those who would not traditionally consider a career in our industry. We are also a part of the Retrofit Careers Hub, posting vacancies and encouraging new talent as we’ve been really trying to attack that skills gap as much as we possibly can.
How would you encourage prospective candidates to pursue a career in retrofit and in particular a career at Equans?
Any excellent candidate should apply via the Retrofit Careers Hub when we have roles available. We’ve got three regions: I’m in the south region, there’s a central region, and north region. They all have their own ways, and our team setup may be slightly different for each but across the board I’d say we’ve got some really great people that work for us. There’s been a real focus on developing our careers, especially in my team to keep and develop those talented people. It’s very rewarding, you would be working on some of the biggest and leading projects in retrofit in the country plus they’re going to have a big impact on people’s lives.
I would really encourage women that are thinking about going into this industry in particular to go for it because our sector really does need way more women. Do not to be put off by the fact that construction historically has been a male-dominated industry because there’s already so many great women out there doing it, and we just need more!
For more information on The Retrofit Academy’s career hub, please visit: https://retrofitacademy.org/solutions/workforce-development/retrofit-careers/