When Sarra Hawes first started in the construction industry back in 1988, she was working for a large local contractor Walter Llewellyn & Sons as their first female management trainee.

She then progressed to become their first female site engineer/site manager, working on and running contracts throughout the South East. These projects included various Sainsburys stores, a Church in Forest Row, the external works connected to a large diving pool for the Defence Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service (DEODS) in Upnor Kent, and various schools for East Sussex County Council.

After taking a career break to have her third child, in 2013 Sarra and her husband Bruce decided to set up a construction company in their own right. They both saw a need for a mid-sized contractor with a good reputation and client-focused outlook. They were able to combine their experience of main contracting with having a directly employed workforce and a robust selection of subcontractors, to work on projects throughout Sussex and on values ranging between £250k and £1.5 million.

Sarra now project manages the occasional project, but mainly looks after the business development side of Hawes Construction Group. She ensures that the company is both up to date with and complies with all the accreditations for Health & Safety. She completes all the necessary paperwork needed to fill out the various Prequalification questionnaires and bid submissions for tenders. She also attends various events, meeting potential clients and consultants to promote the business and expand her network.

She ensures that every member of the workforce is all up to date with their training qualifications. Hawes Construction Group also believes in home-growing their workforce, to which end they regularly take on apprentices and support young people entering the construction industry. This allows them to teach their apprentices to ensure that they have a solid foundation with the right ethics and practices in place.

Sarra is also passionate about encouraging young people to get into the construction industry, which is why she volunteers as a STEM Ambassador and locally as an Enterprise Advisor linked to College Central in Broderick Road, Hampden Park. These roles involve visiting schools and colleges to talk to the students and raise their awareness of the opportunities for them in construction. This can take the shape of presenting assemblies, running demonstrations, and answering any questions they may have. Sarra is particularly passionate about raising the profile of women in construction.

More recently Sarra was elected as the chairperson for the Constructing Excellence Sussex Club. This is the local division of a national group which brings together inspiring professionals in construction and associated industries, to encourage collaboration, education, innovation and connecting of likeminded people.