Vicki Hawkes knows what it’s like to operate in a man’s world. The new Area Sales Manager at Strand Hardware has worked in the construction and building products sector for 23 years and is delighted to be joining a company with a woman at the helm.
“It was one of the things that most interested me about the job,” she says referring to Strand’s Managing Director Catherine Franks. “Although there are now many more women working in the industry, there are relatively few who are in leadership roles.”
Appointed in November 2019, Vicki was just starting her sales activity, covering the southern/eastern half of the Midlands, South Wales, East Anglia and the South of the UK, when the UK went into its first COVID lockdown.
Following furlough and a part-time return, Vicki is now back in her full-time role and is keen to highlight the benefits of Strand Hardware’s quality products to distribution, architectural ironmongers and locksmiths.
Having worked for Carillion and Assa Abloy UK, she is experienced in many areas of the industry including fleet management, customer services and sales.
Most recently Vicki worked for Alpro Hardware Ltd, where she was Area Sales Manager and Technical Support Advisor for the Midlands and South West, selling manual and electrical hardware to distribution and aluminium manufacturers and fabricators.
Her experience in this field will hopefully open new doors for Strand Hardware which offers an extensive range of panic hardware, finger protection devices and window openers.
“I can see great possibilities working with the aluminium industry. Over the past three or four years, aluminium has become so popular as a versatile and durable alternative to wood and PVC fittings.
It also presents great aesthetics which would be an ideal blend with the products that we offer,” she adds.
Strand Hardware recently became a member of the Council for Aluminium in Building (CAB) and the company is already starting to work with a number of key distribution partners to help with this new venture.
Vicki’s work achievements include the awarding of an Excellence Certificate during her time at Carillion, an employee of the year award from Yale which she received following her first year in sales out on the road and two years’ qualifications from the Guild of Architectural Ironmongers – one of which she passed with distinction.
“I have had some interesting times in the industry, working long hours and travelling many miles,” she said.
This has included some ‘awkward’ social occasions including a visit to an exotic dance club.
“My male colleagues wanted to go there and clearly, I had no interest in what was happening on stage, so I ended up behind the scenes, having a cup of coffee with the girls,” she laughs.
Outside of work, Vicki, who lives in Alcester, Worcestershire, enjoys gardening and spending time with her “crazy” chocolate sprocker spaniel, Samuel, “who my life revolves around”.