In Conversation with Syreeta Bayne, BAM Construct UK

Please describe your role and responsibilities, how many years you have been in the company?
I am the National Community Engagement Manager for BAM Construct UK Ltd. I am responsible for the implementation and on-going development of BAM’s community engagement and social impact strategy. I am part of the sustainability team based in the head office and I support a team of regional community and education co-ordinators located across seven locations including Scotland and Wales. I joined BAM Construct UK in March 2018, so still relatively new to the BAM group but I have achieved a lot within a short space of time.

What was your background previously and where did your interest in community begin?
In 2008, I started my first role relating to community interest working on government-funded projects aimed at tackling social issues such as long-term unemployment and youth unemployment. I progressed into a relationship manager role and then onto project managing a full project. During this time, I built relationships with community organisations such as charities, job centres and local authorities and from there I developed an interest in the wider corporate responsibility agenda. In 2014, I joined Interserve as my first internal corporate responsibility position. My role required me to set-up and manage a project aimed at linking a local authorities’ economic and well-being strategy to Interserve’s sustainability strategy. I progressed onto manage their employee foundation which encompassed their employee volunteer programme and donations for all divisions across the world.

How has your community investment program evolved at your company?
The goal of BAM’s “People Positive” sustainability theme is to enhance 1 million lives by 2020. In the past 3 years, we have introduced an “Enhancing Lives Challenge” as part of our early careers induction programme. The new employees receive a challenge tasking them to identify opportunities to enhance lives in the local communities where they live and/or work. Their projects are scored and the winning team is presented a trophy from the BAM Construct UK board. This type of initiative is a great way to introduce our sustainability strategy and the importance of engaging with local communities to our early careers recruits. I think this is important because they are the future leaders of BAM and it helps to shape the culture of the business. Since joining BAM, I have seen the rise in the importance of demonstrating the monetary value (social value) of our community engagement programmes to society. As well as the growing interest in using new buildings as a catalyst for social change as seen in the workshop I delivered in Mostar.

What are the challenges you encounter in driving the sustainability agenda and how do you stay inspired?
I think the main challenge for me and for the built environment sector is to try to shift the current business culture to one where sustainability is at the core of all business decisions. Other sectors such as the retail sector are at this level of maturity but the built environment (in general) still has a way to go. I am confident BAM is moving in the right direction and I look forward to being part of this positive change. I remain inspired by researching and remaining up to date with the development of the sustainability agenda. I am interested to see and learn how technology will change the next era of sustainability, especially for the built environment.

What is your biggest accomplishment or learning so far?
My proudest achievement to date is completing my Masters in Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability at Birkbeck University. I enjoyed learning about the history of social responsibility and sustainability. My research project was based on “employer-supported volunteering in the U.K support-services sector” which gave me the opportunity to research about how other organisations manage their employee volunteering programme and take those learnings to improve my own. More recently, I joined as a fellow member of the Institute of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability – it feels great to feel formally recognised for my experience in this discipline.

What is your motto in life?
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!” Richard Branson

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