I fell into construction, but haven’t looked back since

Rikki Stephenson has been part of KWL for over 6 years and has worked in his current role as a General Repairs Operative for just over a year. Aged 35, he is another member of the team that was born and bred in Hull.

Previously one of our Support Operatives, Rikki’s new role has some parallels – transporting materials to and from sites and removing any waste. He also carries out work in void properties which involves tiling, patchwork on bricks, joinery and snagging work.

Rikki never imagined he’d have a career in construction, he explains:

“In school I was good with computers so I always imagined I’d end up in that line of work, perhaps as a software engineer. I fell into construction in my first job as a labourer after leaving school, through an agency.

“It was actually this previous employer that pointed me in the direction of the Support Operative vacancy at KWL, noting how well-known KWL is in the industry. To my surprise now, I’ve always worked in construction firms and haven’t looked back since!

“I definitely enjoy my job, I’m happy here – KWL is a brilliant employer and there’s lots of benefits, from being supplied with PPE and power tools, to the company van. I have good relationships within the team too which makes the difference – with my managers and supervisor Alan for example – I’ve known them since Day 1 and we’ve always got along well.”

Being a part of a larger project seems to be the most rewarding aspect for Rikki. Being on site often means he gets to see whole projects through from start to finish which he says: “can be really interesting”.

Outside of work, he enjoys riding his motorbike and occasionally playing electric guitar, owning two that he can pick between! Rikki lives with partner of 12 years Stephanie and their Staffordshire Bull Terrier, which they both like to take on walks.

As with many of our employees considered as key workers, work hasn’t stopped this year for Rikki. He says:

“We carry out essential work on void properties which must be continued, but KWL has been more than fair with us. Any people with underlying health conditions have been protected and they’ve been cautious for all of us. I am provided with a Covid Kit which contains a one-piece suit and latex gloves, so with our respirators on we are very safe. We have also been given coverings to wear. It’s all been thought through.”

Rikki’s progression within the company was initially prompted from within:

“I was encouraged by my team to apply for the General Repairs Operative vacancy when it opened. I knew I wanted to challenge myself and they supported me, believing I would be fully capable of the responsibilities and having more jobs on site. After a simple interview process, I got the position and looking back, I’m really glad that I pushed myself.”

“In terms of future plans, I hope to stay at KWL and eventually progress into a higher role. There’s a real focus on personal development here and a natural career path is in place for me to follow, becoming a charge-hand and then a supervisor and so on, but no pressure at all. I want to climb the ladder for myself and this is the ideal place for it – I know that there’s plenty of opportunities for growth here.”