Waste manager wins Women in Business Award

Gemma Turner, General Waste Manager at Recycling Lives, has been recognised as Employee of the Year at the Women in Business Awards.

The awards, hosted by Downtown in Business Lancashire, recognise the outstanding contributions women make to business in Lancashire.

Gemma joined us 6 years ago, assisting the waste manager with taking calls from customers and raising invoices, where she learnt the ins and outs of the industry. Having been working part-time after the birth of her son, Gemma was promoted to waste manager in October 2014. She had impressed all of the directors and managers here at Recycling Lives since she joined and was asked to take over responsibility for Recycling Lives’ waste processing site at Red Scar.

In what is still a predominantly male industry, where only 20% of the waste management workforce is female, Gemma did not feel daunted by the prospect of taking over a team of men. ‘It doesn’t really bother me being the only woman on site. Taking over as manager was daunting, but only because I didn’t have much experience out on the yard, having been mostly office based. It was a new hurdle, needing to get to know how everything on site worked quickly, but I ordered my steel-toed boots and off I went.

‘With some help from our great site foreman, I got stuck in quickly and spent lots of time out on the yard to learn everything inside-out, from the weighbridge to transport.’

Since taking on the management of the waste site, Gemma has introduced new, leaner procedures across the site. The site is running much more efficiently; the trommel system is quicker and more effective, and all stock which had previously built up has been processed. She now plans to start taking on more business contracts. As the department prepares to take more tonnage in, Gemma is confident that the site can now keep up with processing demand, whilst she can increase the financial returns of doing so. She says:

‘I’m passionate about making this site operate as well as it can, and helping to build the waste management arm of the business. I’m determined to learn – I’m currently completing a WAMITAB and management course, so I can help to ensure that the waste department meets its potential, bringing in more work and more money for the business.

It just proves that it doesn’t matter whether you’re male or female; if I can do it in this industry then you can do it anywhere’.

Gemma has just taken over responsibility for Skip Hire Network; she is confident that she can continue and expand upon its growth, integrating it effectively into the waste department.

Will Fletcher, Managing Director said:

‘Gemma has done incredible work for the business since she took over management of our waste site. The whole site runs much more smoothly, with better outputs, more efficient processing and better returns for the business. Our industry is still undeniably male-dominated, but Gemma is a perfect example of why we should all work hard to bring more gender equality to our companies.

We are thrilled that she has been recognised by this award, she really deserves it after all of her hard work this year.’