Member Profile – The Access Group
Intro: The Access Group is a leading provider of business management software to mid-sized UK and Asia Pacific organisations. Carol Massay, Head of Construction talks to us about forward-thinking technology solutions, and her own career within the construction industry
Tell us about Access Group
Access Group is a large organisation in terms of all the different verticals and solutions it provides. It’s been around for over 10 years, and it’s very much a company that’s all about technology and forward thinking. It’s a great company, and working here you just feel energised; there’s so much training, support and development as well as customer focus.
Can you tell us more about your role at Access Group and how you came to be Head of Construction?
I began my career in construction through accounts – when I left school I got a job as an office junior, and began studying at night school to get an accounting qualification. From there I got a role at Barratt Homes in construction accounting, and in that role I learned everything about construction. Next, I moved to an Irish civil engineering company, where my role involved a move into construction technology, and even though I wasn’t trained in it, I just decided to go for it – I love to fix a problem using tech!
I was there for 14 years in the end, removing inefficient processes and implementing good systems through software.
I was then asked to become the CEO of Easybuild, who had some new technology they wanted to launch. I took the challenge to grow the business, and ended up getting four years’ awards for our ERP software too.
Then, in 2020 we decided to sell the business, and in my view Access Group was the best fit because they wanted to enhance their offering, so the legacy of our software would continue, with the support of a proper technology brand.
Now I head up construction at Access Group – I’ve got a great team and I’m always looking to strengthen that too, so that we can become the market leaders in construction.
As a woman in the construction industry, what challenges have you faced in your career, and how did you overcome them?
Being a woman and a woman of colour has definitely been a challenge, but as I came up through my career in construction I think I was quite blinkered, and didn’t always realise at the time that the challenges were because I was a woman or because of my colour.
The main challenges I faced were things like being moved into a role where, despite not being in a sales position, due to my rapport with clients they’d often take my recommendations and buy things, so I ended up bringing in a lot of revenue. There were men in the sales team who didn’t like this and that caused me to be singled out in meetings and challenged because of it.
It got to the point where I brought in one of the biggest deals for the company, and when I got the deal, which had taken 9 months, I was told I had to come back to the office to show the order form and prove I’d completed it, and I knew that if I was a man, I wouldn’t have been asked to do that. I left the following year because I just didn’t want to be a part of it anymore – but the skills and knowledge I’d learned along the way meant I was able to go on and be a CEO – so it’s not all bad!
Do you have any advice to inspire other women to pursue a career in the construction industry?
There’s a perception that you have to go out on sites wearing a hard hat, but there’s so many great jobs for quantity surveyors, architects, and project managers too. The diversity of having women in these roles offers another level of expertise and means not everything is seen through male-dominated eyes. I would always advise that construction is good, the money is good and the skills you learn are really transferable too.
Can you tell us more about ERP software, and how its use impacts the construction industry?
ERP (enterprise resource planning) is end-to-end, fully-integrated software. It allows you to plan a project, taking into account your labour costs, plant materials, contractor costs, and the ERP then translates that information so you’re able to track the project and stay on budget. We use the CVR (cost, value, reconciliation) process which is so important because it can make or break a company. Contracts can be worth millions, and unless you have great controls, things can get complicated. What ERP does is track in real time the things you said you were going to do to run that project, so it brings the commercial and finance elements together. It’s also compliant with all of the construction and HMRC regulations. There’s the mobile applications too, which allows someone on site to request the goods they need, the buyer to order it and to track when they’ve been received on site.
The ERP ultimately gives you a full visibility over your project costing, and the financial position of your business too.
Have you seen the way this software is used change over the past year as a result of the pandemic?
With more people working remotely, we’ve seen the move to the cloud, and there’s been a much more confident uptake because throughout there’s been a focus on the construction industry continuing, but more people working remotely – so this has helped people to be more efficient and get information more quickly. It’s also helped people to get paid quicker which is a big deal, especially with material shortages. The mobile application has also seen a big uptake.
How do you think digital software will transform the construction industry in the future?
The sector is trying to bring in younger blood, and it needs to – but to attract the younger generation, the technology needs to be there.
Modular builds will be a massive shift in the way construction projects are built, and it’s understanding how all of that will work, and capturing the costs in a digital way too.
It’s very exciting being a part of a software house that has all the capabilities to make things happen.