“Anybody can do anything if they put their mind to it.”
Originally from Northern Ireland, Janice Russell moved to Newcastle when she was 18 years old and, after graduating from university, worked in the city for a number of years. However, at 30, she decided it was time to move on.
“I decided I was getting a job in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Manchester. I got a job in Glasgow and that was me!”
It sounds pretty straightforward but there was plenty of hard work involved. She worked for two construction companies in Glasgow as well as a registered social landlord (RSL) before joining McTaggart Construction in 2010.
“It’s a family business,” Janice confirms, “established in 1946 by George and Willis McTaggart. It was originally set up as a general building contracting company… but they started building houses in 1950 and we’ve been building property ever since.”
Janice, who now lives in East Kilbride, joined the company in a business development role before moving onto the board and then taking over as Managing Director earlier this year.
“It’s quite an honour that they have selected me as their new MD. It’s great that they’ve entrusted me to run the business for them.”
Historically, there may have been a few raised eyebrows at the appointment of a female in such a male dominated industry. Thankfully, time and attitudes have moved on.
“It’s just something that I’ve always done,” Janice confirms. “And to be fair, everyone I’ve come across in the industry has been very supportive and helpful in terms of allowing me to learn and engage with them. I’ve never had any issues.”
She is, without doubt, a perfectly placed role model and an inspiration to young women everywhere.
“I would encourage young ladies to consider construction as a career. Traditionally, people consider construction to be brick layers, joiners… but there are so many different aspects to it. There’s quantity surveying, business development, project management, so it’s not all about being based out on site. You can be an architect, a planner. There’s a real shortage of planners just now so it’s a great time to get into that and really influence how the future of your local environment is shaped.”
One thing Janice and her colleagues are keen to encourage is apprenticeships. Having employed its first apprentice back in 1948, McTaggart Construction still looks to promote opportunities for individuals.
“Particularly in the locations where we are working,” Janice explains, “because in a lot of those areas, people don’t have the opportunities that perhaps you would get in other areas. We’ve got a very strong corporate social responsibility team led up by Ross Hammell… he’s got a real passion for encouraging young people into the industry.”
Indeed, this was recognised at the 2023 Skills Development Scotland awards when McTaggart Construction was crowned Scotland’s Large Apprentice Employer of the Year. It was also named Business of the Year in the Scottish Women’s Awards at a ceremony in Glasgow on 16th September, an event which celebrates the impact women across Scotland are making in their respective industries and communities.
“We were shortlisted in two categories,” Janice informs me. “We were successful in one and received a Highly Commended in the Family Business of the Year.”
The accolades are well deserved and reflect the ongoing success of the Dalry-based firm which builds quality affordable homes and has doubled its turnover in just over five years. Modest as she is, Janice has certainly contributed to that success.
“It’s been hard work but I thrive on hard work. I wouldn’t want people to think it’s an easy ride, it’s not. But I think anybody who works hard in their particular field will achieve. Anybody can do anything if they put their mind to it.”
It’s great advice from the woman who also sits on the board for Homes for Scotland, the body representing Scotland’s home building sector.
Wise words from an inspiring woman.