Kathryn Ladley - BSc (Hons) Quantity Surveying, 1974

Kathryn was the first woman to complete our Quantity Surveying course.


Dark haired lady in blouse sat at desk

Senior Consultant, NPS Group

Kathryn was the first woman to complete our Quantity Surveying course. After beginning her career path at Leeds Polytechnic, graduating in 1974, Kathryn has recently won the Lifetime Achievement in Construction category at the 2017 European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards.

Kathryn says "Looking back, I admit that I came into Quantity Surveying almost by accident. My original plan had been to study Architecture and I was made offers by Schools of Architecture in Oxford and Leeds. During the application process, and at the last minute, I had added the Quantity Surveying degree at Leeds to the UCAS application. In the event my A Level results were such that I could have opted for any of the offers. To this day I am not really sure why I decided to accept the Quantity Surveying offer, but I remain very glad that I did.

"To say that I found the transition from school to college difficult is a huge understatement. I was very shy and totally lacking in self-confidence – totally unsuited to being thrust into this new situation. It turned out that not only was I the only woman in that year’s BSc Quantity Surveying intake, I was the only woman in that year’s intake across the whole building department and I think the first woman to enrol for any of their range of full time courses."

After graduating Kathryn began working for Leeds City Council (LCC), gaining the knowledge and experience which laid the groundwork for her future successes. After progressing her career Kathryn and her husband decided to start a family, but unfortunately suffered a miscarriage, which took her life on a new path. She says “I turned my attention to helping women who had suffered the loss of a child during pregnancy. I ran the Miscarriage Association (a national charity) for almost 7 years and during those years I qualified as an antenatal teacher for the National Childbirth Trust. I saw my role as that of helping to build women’s confidence to achieve the pregnancy, labour and birth they wanted.”

“During that time, I continued to work, on a part time basis, as a Quantity Surveyor in private practice, contracting and local authority consultancy – mainly to “keep my hand in”. However, my love of working in the construction industry came to the fore when an opportunity to work once again with LCC arose, and I made the decision to return to my employment roots.

“It was gratifying to find that once back full time my love and enthusiasm for the work was every bit as strong, if not stronger, than before. I remained at LCC for almost 17 years during which time I applied for, and was elected to, Fellowship of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and qualified for Associate Membership of the Association for Project Management.

“At that time LCC spent a considerable sum of money on commissioning construction related external consultants. With my knowledge of the construction industry and my project and programme management skills, I was asked to develop and manage this process.” During her later years with LCC Kathryn was promoted to Construction Best Practice Executive Officer, a role which she loved as it enabled her to bring the benefits of Constructing Excellence, Lean Construction, two stage tendering and other ways of collaborative working and supply chain management to LCC.

In 2003, the findings of a Best Value Review of Professional Design Services resulted in LCC establishing a strategic partnership with Jacobs, an international technical professional services firm. With her skills and integrity, care and diligence, Kathryn was the perfect choice to lead the team that organised the procurement and managed the relationship with Jacobs.

In 2012, Kathryn was asked to join the LCC group negotiating the terms for a new joint venture to deliver architectural design services for a range of council construction projects – NPS Leeds. She was also approached to manage the in-house Architectural Design Services, again reflecting the confidence in both her expertise and knowledge. Since joining NPS, Kathryn has maximised her experience in contracting, consultancy and local government to assist in setting up new joint ventures across the country, and is currently based in the Leeds office for their five-year review looking at processes to strengthen and facilitate the NPS relationship with Leeds City Council.

50 years after beginning her career in construction, Kathryn is still working as Associate Director - Commercial, running the Companies Quantity Surveying and Building Surveying teams.

Early in her career Kathryn was asked whether she had made the right choice in becoming a Quantity Surveyor.

"I could never imagine doing anything else.

Now, many years later, Kathryn says the feeling is still the same.

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