From fashion to land buying, how Jess Baker is progressing her construction career

Let’s start with your name, title and how long you have been with Denbury Homes…

I’m Jess. I’m a Land Buyer and have been with the company for over two years now. I started as an Assistant Land Buyer at Hopkins & Moore, staying as it transitioned to Denbury Homes and since then, I’ve been learning and gaining new skills in my Real Estate degree.

Talk me through your journey so far in your land-buying career.

I didn’t initially know I wanted to work in construction. I studied fashion for a year and though I enjoyed it, I’m a country girl at heart. I love being outdoors and could not trade that with city living, which I knew a career in fashion would demand. That is the reason Denbury Homes’ history and ethos resonate so well with me – they have strong roots in building homes that complement the rural landscapes that I love.

I’m still glad I ventured into fashion. It informed my true ambitions and helped me to decide what I wanted to do. Undertaking work experience with big names such as French Connection, I developed invaluable skills and learnt a lot about myself. It led me to the exciting route I am on now, which began as a land trainee and has progressed to taking on a Real Estate degree and preparing to sit my APC exams to qualify as a chartered surveyor.

At the moment, I appreciate gaining experience. I am soaking up the learning and concentrating on completing my degree so that I can take my APC.

Sounds like you’ve been on an incredible self-growth journey. It’s lovely to hear that you were true to yourself and made your own decisions. What have you learned so far, that you wouldn’t have without it?

Time management, for sure. Balancing work life, social life and studying can be trying, but the team is extremely supportive. I have a study day each week dedicated to my learning which I have hugely benefitted from.

Each module shapes my understanding of the different aspects I encounter in my day-to-day role. For example, each legal module has sculpted my ability to handle land contracts and land deals, whilst the degree as a whole has improved my valuation skills.

My lecturers have inspired a great deal of thinking about sustainability. Denbury Homes is always pushing to be a greener housebuilder and raising its environmental credentials, and I am proud that I’m able to add to the team’s creativity and innovative ideas as a result.

That’s great to hear. Having supportive colleagues must be key, especially when you’re pursuing your academic qualifications. How do they help with your learning?

My research is definitely enhanced by the various people I work with from different departments at Denbury Homes. I’m able to ask everyone questions and each time I do, I pick up wise advice that has been instrumental in my studying.

The team has helped me to continually develop my knowledge and progress. I am learning more and gaining confidence in my role every day. With an encouraging team that gives me the time and tools to keep learning, I know I’m on the right path.

It sounds like you are. What is/are your favourite thing(s) about working for Denbury Homes?

It truly feels like we are working together as a team with the shared objective of constructing high-quality homes for our customers. I love the homes the company builds and feel proud whenever I see them.

I’m also proud to work for an organisation that supports local charities and communities. As a country lover, the local area is important to me, as it is to Denbury Homes and making a difference in the environment we live in makes it a very appealing place to work.

Another important aspect is Denbury’s inclusive culture which encourages all staff to thrive, regardless of their gender.

How do you find working in what is still a very male-dominated industry? What advice would you give to anyone starting out?

I would like to echo the Women into Construction vision that creates a more diverse workforce and normalises the position of women in this industry. Don’t be intimated by the male-dominated industry. One word of advice that is important for anyone who is thinking of starting a career in construction is to keep expanding on your knowledge and don’t be afraid to speak up about what you believe in.

Delivering houses of exceptional design for aspirational people

For almost 40-years Hopkins & Moore have been building homes across East Anglia. Now, we have renamed to Denbury Homes but are still setting new standards for exceptional design and customer service.