What made you want to become a Policy and External Affairs Manager?
To be honest, I had no idea what career I wanted to do. As a child, I wanted to be a vet. But as I got older and realised there was a lot more to it than cuddling fluffy animals all day, it quickly lost its appeal! I knew I wanted to go to university and that I was interested in politics and policy, so I decided to study for a degree in that area and my career choices naturally followed suit.
What route did you take to becoming a Policy and External Affairs Manager?
For A-Levels, I studied Politics, History, English Literature and Philosophy and Ethics. I then went to Royal Holloway University where I studied politics for both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. After finishing my masters, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do a PhD or find a job. I took a year out while I decided, working weekends in a supermarket and interning for a member of Parliament during the week. It was an exhausting time, but my internship made me realise I could find a job that combined all of my interests, specifically politics, research and writing, while earning a living at the same time. After completing my internship, I worked for various trade bodies in policy and public affairs roles.
The Reality: what does your role actually involve and how does your work affect our lives/the world around us?
At HBF, I work as part of a team that is focused on making the government aware of the obstacles preventing developers from building more homes. For many of us, the dream is to own our own home one day but for this to be possible, we need to build more! And so, our job at HBF is to work with Ministers and their officials to try and ensure policies and legislation are introduced that facilitate housing supply in a way that is workable for the industry.
Each day my role is varied but it can involve responding to government consultations on specific policy issues, organising events, writing briefings for members and meeting with politicians.
I’m lucky that I get to meet people from a range of professions – everyone from Members of Parliament and company CEOs to those on the front line of delivering new homes such as planners, technical experts and apprentices.
What key skills have you picked up during your experience in the industry so far?
Definitely the ability to manage my time in the most efficient way possible. Home building is a really busy industry to work in and there are often many competing demands on my time. As a result, I’ve become adept at working out what is a priority issue that needs my attention immediately, and what can be dealt with later. I have a toddler too, so life is often a real juggling act!
What’s the best thing you like about your role?
That no two days are the same - there’s always something new to learn or do! I’m also really lucky to work for an organisation that invests in its employees and gives them the freedom to pursue areas of work that they are particularly enthusiastic about.
I’m really passionate about our work to improve the mental health of the home building workforce. Sadly, two construction workers take their own lives every working day. Key to changing this is breaking down the stigma around mental health and ensuring industry colleagues are signposted to appropriate mental health support. So far HBF’s Mental Health Campaign has supported the industry to train over 1,000 Mental Health First Aiders, a number we expect to increase further in the coming months and years.
"The home building industry is also a really interesting sector to work in. I’ve worked in a number of different industries throughout my career including food and drink, retail and health but I’ve found home building to be the most interesting by far."
I’m lucky that I get to meet people from a range of professions – everyone from Members of Parliament and company CEOs to those on the front line of delivering new homes such as planners, technical experts and apprentices."
My name is Emma Ramell, I’m 34 and I’m the Policy and External Affairs Manager at the Home Builders Federation (HBF). I’ve been working within the industry for 4 ½ years now – the time has flown by!
Challenges are inevitable. What are some challenges you personally face at work and how do you overcome them each time?
For me, confidence is the biggest challenge I face. Specifically, the fear that I’m not good or capable enough to take on certain tasks. While I’m lucky to work in a supportive and encouraging environment, it’s important not to rely solely on the opinions of others for self-esteem. So, whenever self-doubt starts to creep in, I take a few minutes to remind myself of the things I’m good at and have achieved during my career to date.
What is it like to be a young woman working in your career area & how do people react when you tell them your job role?
Sometimes people are surprised when I tell them I work in home building due to the stereotypical perception of the industry. But it really is an industry open to people of all backgrounds and talents and I’m enjoying it immensely.
At HBF, we are doing a lot of work with our members to further increase the diversity and inclusivity of the home building workforce which I hope, in time, will start to change people’s views of the sector and mean there are less surprised faces when I’m asked what I do for a living!
"My best advice for any young woman considering a career in my role would be Go for it. The work is challenging, interesting and you get to develop a wide range of skills which will be of use to you throughout your career."