Toni Da Costa – The right person in the right place, at the right time

Date: June 20, 2024

Toni Da Costa is the office manager and linchpin of our busy Union Park site in Hayes, Middlesex, who says she has found the place where she is “meant to be”. Here Toni describes her busy role, a ‘woman’s place in construction’, and looks at the wider culture of Sweet Projects.

When I was asked to write this, I didn’t really know where to start. There has been so much happening since I joined Sweet a few years ago, that I had to think about how to begin. So, I think this sums it up: I am proud to be, in the greatest respect, just another member of a wider team. I am not a woman in a male-dominated field, but an equal contributor in the Sweet Projects team.

I’m not here to break barriers or challenge stereotypes; I’m here to do a job that I love and excel at it. I don’t feel any different, really – I do not feel there is male or female, I feel we’re all equal and that makes it enjoyable. There are jokes in the office, there are people feeling different things at different times.

We all pull together, and it’s a great feeling.

Right person, right place, right time

Whether I sit in our office, or outside, on-site, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride. I’ve found my place in an industry that some may consider as an ‘unconventional’ career for a woman.

But here’s the thing – I don’t see it as unconventional at all. I see it as the right person in the right place, at the right time.

I actually wasn’t looking for a job when I was headhunted for my role. But I am glad I was picked out. It is the best move I have ever made; I’m so pleased. I feel as if I’ve got a job for life, and coming to work feels like coming home.

A company is made up of people, and it is the people I have met since being here that have made it worthwhile. I increasingly feel that I am doing more of a constructive role – not necessarily construction – and doing something better with my life; a career I should be doing.

Making a difference

I was asked ‘Do Sweet Projects get involved in community activities?” and, woah – do they?! I’ve been involved in loads of different charitable events and working alongside many community groups since I’ve joined. From food banks and local hospices, to schools and The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity – the brilliant organisation looking after all construction workers.

We organise events, charitable 5-a-sides, golf, team meals and get everyone involved. Sites have their own partnerships, and then there are ideas and fundraising from head office too.

One that stands out for me is the wonderful Honeypot Childrens’ Charity . They provide ongoing support for really young carers, who are aged just 5-12 years old. It’s mind-blowing how much these young people do, and Honeypot has been one of our main charitable partners for years – helping us all be there for these really overlooked young people in challenging, difficult circumstances looking after their own family members.

They raise funds to give these young carers support and respite, allowing them to be themselves, allowing them to be children again. Really worthwhile and something we all get behind throughout the year.

What’s different about Sweet?

I’ve worked at other property and construction companies in the past, so what is different about being at Sweet Projects?

At first, it feels more relaxed. For instance, if you need something or want to make a change, you’re not diverted to a form, link or some portal on the intranet. You’ll speak directly to someone, someone you probably know, and things will get done easier and quicker.

Everyone from the Board down treats you on a personal level at Sweet Projects. You are not just a number. Your hard work and efforts are recognised and, really importantly, from praise, ideas or concerns, you are heard.

I am so comfortable here, much more than I’ve been for years. I don’t want to be looking anywhere else, or finding something new. I am where I am meant to be.

A big part of our culture here is doing the right thing. We’re all here to work towards a common goal, so no matter how large or small your cog wheel is, the whole big machine works together. All putting our efforts in for the same goal.

Collectively as a company it makes me feel valued. I feel like my team here is a family. Once you get to know them, you work with them so much, they feel like family.

My pride comes from the words Sweet Projects, because when I drive up the motorway to work, and I see the cranes and the buildings with our logo across it, I know I was part of that.