The Polish founder of a high-end London housebuilder has been named Europe’s Best Woman Contractor.
Monika Slowikowska, who beat eight other finalists in the European Women In Construction & Engineering (WICE) Awards on 24 May, could speak no English when she arrived in the UK with a "big dream" to set up a home-building company.
Founder and managing director of Golden Houses Developments, she described the award a "victory for all women", and credited her perfectionism and problem-solving skills, plus the fostering of teamwork, for her company’s success.
"Balancing ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills, I develop and enhance the talent around me, while meticulously monitoring the progress of projects and fostering innovation by using neuroscience, emotional dexterity and Artificial Intelligence to improve processes and efficiency," she said.
"Golden Houses Developments presents a new attitude in construction, where conflict is resolved smoothly and the team’s energy is channelled into delivering superb work on time and on budget," she added.
One of Golden Houses Developments’ projects in Putney, London (Golden Houses Developments)
She was the only company founder among the nine finalists for the award; her competitors held management or professional roles in larger contractors. Three of those worked for Spain’s Ferrovial, and two for France’s Bouygues.
Just 11% of the UK’s construction workforce is female, of whom only 1% work in manual as opposed to office roles, according to a 2015 analysis.
Even rarer are women-owned contractors, which has garnered Golden Houses some attention. The company featured on UK Channel 4’s "Ugly House to Lovely House" television programme in 2016.
Slowikowska says women have much to offer the industry and is dedicated to mentoring others.
"I believe that better people make better businesses, and I combined this approach with my construction experience to start a successful company," she said.
"I hope that this award means I can continue creating fantastic developments while mentoring other women in the field and helping them believe in their capabilities."
In all, there were 29 honours handed out at this year’s WICE Awards, ranging from best woman architect and quantity surveyor to best woman tunneller and structural engineer.
Photograph: Monika Slowikowska says her company "presents a new attitude in construction"