Recruiting Diverse Candidates in Construction | Work Done Right With Romey Oulton

In this episode of the Work Done Right podcast, we are thrilled to welcome Romey Oulton, a leading force in the world of construction tech and diversity and inclusion. As the Senior Global ConTech Consultant and DEI Lead at LMRE, Romey is at the forefront of a prop tech recruitment company with a global reach. With a keen focus on construction tech and innovation within traditional real estate firms, Romey’s work prioritizes diversity, particularly the inclusion of underrepresented groups, especially women. 

Today, she shares her insights on three critical topics: the intriguing realm of LMRE and its mission, strategies for attracting and retaining top talent, and her pivotal role in increasing gender diversity within the construction tech industry. Romey brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the table, offering valuable insights on recruitment, diversity, and driving social impact. Don’t miss this interesting episode on the world of ConTech and DEI as Romey guides us towards creating a more inclusive, innovative, and talent-rich future.

About Romey

Our guest today is Romey Oulton, who is the Senior Global ConTech Consultant & DEI Lead at LMRE. Passionate about social impact, Romey has played a pivotal role in a number of notable DEI events and strives to help her clients build hiring strategies that cultivate a diverse, balanced and inclusive recruitment process, while prioritizing top talent. 

In addition to all this, Romey is the Growth Partner and founding team member of the rapidly growing Women in Construction Tech organization. She holds a B.A In Sociology, Theology and Philosophy from Bristol University. 

Top 3 Episode Takeaways

  1. What is LMRE?: LMRE is a global prop tech recruitment company with a focus on construction tech and innovation in traditional real estate firms. Romey spearheads their construction tech vertical, where she prioritizes diversity by sourcing talent from underrepresented groups, particularly women.

  2. How to attract and retain top talent: Companies should attract top talent by enhancing brand awareness, offering progression opportunities, training, mentorship, and sponsorship schemes. Retention involves clear career roadmaps and fostering a culture of belonging and transformation within the organization. Sustainability and philanthropy play a vital role in attracting talent who care about broader societal issues.

  3. Increasing gender diversity in construction: Romey discusses the Women in Construction Tech organization’s mission to create a centralized database of women in the industry, eliminating excuses for not promoting diversity. The organization aims to celebrate and champion women’s successes in construction tech and offers local chapters to connect with. Romey encourages industry professionals to get involved with the organization and support diversity in the field.

Episode Transcript

Wes Edmiston: 

Romey, welcome to the show.  


Romey Oulton:  

What an intro, thank you.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Hey, it’s your background. So, just getting started off in this, maybe, you know, could you tell for our audience, what is LMRE for those of you who haven’t heard of them and then just a bit about what it is that you do there?  

Romey Oulton: 

Yes, of course. So for those who haven’t heard of us, don’t panic. We’re somewhat ofa start -up ourselves. So we were founded five years ago solely focusing on the prop tech in the Cretex start -up space.  


And in addition to that, we also worked with traditional real estate firms who were looking to have innovation and technology sectors, but clients include Yardee, VTS, Artis Group, Pines and so on. I joined about, I think a year and a half ago now with the main effort of spearheading our construction tech vertical, predominantly in North America, but global focus.  


So, as you can tell by the accent, we were founded in London, but we’ve now grown across Europe, office in Singapore, big American North, sorry, big market. North America so office in New York and then we’ve just opened in Saudi as well which is super super exciting lots of construction going on down there up there where would it be on them?  


Over there? Yeah so yeah I’ve been very busy over the last year and a half and we’ve had you know the fortune of working with companies like open space, build -outs, on -site IQ, Avere but we really cover pre-seed through to post IPO so we’ve recently signed terms with Bentley Systems which is very cool but what I find super exciting is those early stage companies where hiring like every hire seriously masses it’s the foundational team so companies which are pre -seed or seed stage who we work with include Pyrros, Dachamate, Ecomedes, Carbon Bill, Green Badger, God I don’t want to offend. 


A lot of amazing companies out there sorry if I missed you. And tying that into my work with women in construction tech, for me diversifying how we resource for these companies is huge. I mean, it’s no secret that construction is predominantly pale, male, and stale.  


Sorry to say the phrase. I’m two out of the three, alright. Which one are you not? Not stale. Bit pale. I think I’m a bit cack. A little bit. Got a slight turn on. Yeah. So yeah, using my network in the women in construction tech organization, what we’re doing there is building a database of women in the industry, not only for events, because how many panels have we seen which are just meant, like, and the excuse often comes out, oh, well, we didn’t know who to invite, no one put themselves forward.  


So we’re having an accessible centralized database for events and for opportunities, but also for hiring as well. So when I work with clients, I like to think that I’m able to broaden where I’m looking for talent and really tap into places.  


Wes Edmiston: 

So when you send through your first set of profiles for people to look at, you have people from all walks of life, which not only is like incredibly impactive on business growth and success, but just like from a philanthropic view, very important to have a level playing field.  


You’re helping. Through LMR, you’re helping these at whatever stage construction tech companies to bring on the right resources, helping to identify top talent for them. What got you into construction tech in the first place?  

How did you make that interest?  


Romey Oulton:  

Yeah, it’s a good question. So prior to LMR, I worked at a company called Business, which is a digital media news and events platform. And I was on the UK brand partnerships team.  


American company can’t get enough of you guys clearly. But as part of my job doing business development, we were partnering. with owners, developers, investors, architects, engineers, contractors. And I absolutely adored my job there, but we also had exposure to contact and proctex as people who had come and sponsored our events.  


And firstly, this is going to sound very Gen Z, but it was something about the kind of cutting edge adoption of technology, where I just felt way more at home in discussing, reading about it, learning about it, the kind of people who were in this space really inspired me.  


And on top of that, I’m very much like people to people. So B2P, not B2B maybe. And recruitment is obviously all centered around those kind of relationships. So the thought of being able to impact an industry, not only from like technological advancements, but also in the sense that I can hopefully put more effort in to find the right people for the right job with the priority of diversifying what that talent pool looks like was my main pull into recruitment I suppose.  

Wes Edmiston: 

Yeah I mean it’s extremely valuable work especially so for one I have a bias toward toward valuing the work of people in recruitment my wife’s been recruiting and staffing for coming up on a decade now so great work that everybody does there.  


Romey Oulton:  

Yeah we’ve got a bad rep but there are good ones out there I promise including a wife I’m sure. Yeah absolutely and really the thing is especially with working with these these smaller companies these startups you know every single team member is a significant member of the team so there’s so much value in identifying the right people and yeah headhunters get a bad wrap and this and that and you can call them all sorts of names but they’re doing the companies and the personnel the biggest service by connecting the right people together so so with the work that you’re doing with LMRE I’m a lot of the the open acquisitions from the different companies that are out there and you start through these conversations with the potential clients and with you know the the recruitment pool of people you’re able to just start identifying kind of some of the the top not necessarily jobs that are out there on the open marketplace but maybe the top skill sets that employers are looking for.  

And maybe that aren’t present in the open marketplace right now with the talent pool that we have is there anything in particular that you see that that companies are really looking for in people that that may be people that are coming out of college or in their career right now can start to develop yeah that’s a really good question and one thing I will say is it is a volatile market in the sense that one minute so we have a go -to -market team where we do you know C -suite all the way down to junior on customer success marketing sales we then have the very clever guys who are digging into engineering product data One minute the need for sales reps are absolutely sky high.  


To be honest, that’s quite consistent across the year, across the board. But you know, back in the last year, what was every startup saying? We need to be profitable. It’s not just about revenue, it was more strategic.  


But there was a huge focus on sales. And then towards, you know, these last six months, everyone on an inbound level has been coming to us saying, we need engineers. Like there’s a huge shortage of engineers, especially if you’re looking for those with that SaaS startup experience, paired with industry knowledge, that is a tiny pool.  


You add into that the lack of minority groups and women who come from a STEM background, especially at a more senior level, you’re dwindling it even further. So that’s definitely a big pain point. And I think on our salary report, God forbid if I quote this wrong, Anna Maria, I’m so sorry, but I think it’s about 40% of our clients were coming to us looking just for data hires. And then on the sales side, it was about 60% who were looking for those with specialised knowledge, straddling, SaaS, and construction or real estate.  


Product as well. We’ve seen a kind of sore over the last few months. And again, that is often the companies which are at a bit of a later stage or mid stage where these younger startups are coming and threatening their place in the market.  


So they have to be watertight with their products. You know, how will they remain the best? So completely depending on the size of company is different demand for roles. In terms of seniority, I think we’re seeing a lot more strategic hires where people are expected to be a player coach.  


So you’ll have that strategic mindset, but you’ll also be able to roll your sleeves up and execute. It’s as if people are trying to do two hires in one. Some may say, but you’ve got to stay lean in this environment.  


And then you also touched on skill sets. I think just don’t underplay enthusiasm is my core piece of advice for people who are interviewing because there’s a whole lot of talented people out there. But what sets you apart is ultimately, number one, just being you.  


It has to be a mutual fit both ways. But if you care about a vision enough, even if you don’t have industry experience, you can learn, you can be hungry, you can like want to win for that company. And by a mile when you’re interviewing, listen to their podcasts, have they got a book?  


Read it. What’s the thought leadership like? I think immersing yourself is the biggest skill you can have in a market which is so competitive at the moment given the current landscape.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, yeah, even just that idea.  


I mean, it pairs well with an idea that I’ve heard from a couple of really successful people on this podcast and then just people. that I listen to in my spare time or read from is the idea of being all into what it is that you’re doing.  


And by the sounds of it, even if you’re looking at just being a potential candidate to apply to a job that maybe you’re looking for, you want to work with a particular company, well, if you want to work with that company, be all in in that culture.  


So really educate yourself on what it is that they do, how they do it, who it is that does those things, and really just get yourself involved in their culture in some fashion. To where you can enthusiastically approach the situation in the best way you can.  

 Romey Oulton:  

And you know what, like a lot of advice I give, so when people are interviewing, it’s so much about your resume and your past and especially sales. It’s like, what are your statistics? What’s your quotes?  


What’s your ACV? Right. And with marketing, what are your past projects? Where’s your portfolio? And the candidates that I’ve seen really stand out. are those who can speak eloquently on all their past experience and you know it’s not a lie the resume is legit but really you’re going into that interview and you say I can answer what you want me to however I want to think forward and envision myself as part of your company.  


From my research this area really interests me like put in a strategic question like have you ever thought about this or are you already doing it and you just want to immerse yourself like you said show them like your future capabilities and how it directly applies to you adding value to their business and I can guarantee you that will stand out more than every other person who’s saying I hit this number I did this I did that.  


Right yeah that makes sense the I think people are going to be naturally skeptical of you anyway in an interview so just saying hey look at all the things that I’ve done in the past there’s probably a high level of skepticism with that anyway so so just kind of already starting to show your value that’s a that’s a great idea that’s a great point to make and it’s somewhat it doesn’t lack originality but you will be original if you’re going and saying I strategically studied your business and these are the areas where like I think I can bring value straight away you’re like oh okay yeah absolutely the other thing that you said that I hadn’t really thought about before is the the amount of people that have some level of industry experience while also being a technically oriented person is is likely just minimal especially if we’re looking at construction tech right how many how many software engineers do we have that also have knowledge of the construction industry yeah you’re the one doing the recruitment right how many is that probably not very many and then you know if you want to there’s I would say the movement being going back into hybrid or in office is increasing and there’s less resistance but you add on a location boundary you know it needs to be in Sherman Oaks three times a week it dwindles every time yeah that’s a good point but I think if we learn anything from prop tech who I would say are like a little bit ahead, not like FinTech or something, but slightly more mature.  


What we’ve seen is, if you think about it right now, if you had to name, you know, 20 mid to late stage content companies who have succeeded, it’s difficult. Like there are definitely a handful who have done really well, but everyone is around that kind of pre -seed to series A stage, and it will be these next few years where we see the direction of that going.  


And with PropTech, what we’ve seen is for the foundational teams, it had to be very specialist. Like it was slower hiring, and it was making sure you find those people, whatever you have to do, you get them on your team.  


But as they’ve matured, they’re, you know, we’re bringing in people from different industries more and more. So it’s maybe not relevant to have to have real estate knowledge, but you’ve been at a start -up, great.  


And that’s how you can then raise the awareness from my panel earlier, people were saying. How can we make the next generation more aware of construction? Well, as we get more and more successful, we’ll be bringing in more industries.  


And then voila, hopefully we’ll be the most popular, popular industry out there.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, absolutely. I already have tons of people working in the industry, but we’re definitely, we’re definitely struggling to attract top talent.  


For whether we’re talking about people getting directly into the trades, people getting into management, people getting into construction tech, most people just aren’t aware of the level of complexity in construction, which for a lot of people talking about it, you know, it’s really our own fault because we haven’t necessarily been able to deliver this message of, hey, look at all the great things that you can be doing in this industry and how complexity is and how interesting it is.  


And again, it’s our fault. And we’ll continue.  


Romey Oulton:  

I don’t know if it is. We’re about to get into some argument.  


Wes Edmiston: 

No, no, no, that’s fine. So I worked in the industry for 15 years, right?  


I worked, I started off as a worker just on a shop floor, but I went on, I was a pipe fitter and welder, I built offshore oil platforms and natural gas facilities. I got into supervision and management and then I got picked up and I was working for the owner side and I worked my way up on the owner side as well.  


And I am one of those people that effectively, you know, I failed into construction, right? I had a lot of stuff that was going on in my personal life and that’s what ended up leading me into kind of going all into construction instead of finishing up schooling at the time.  


And it wasn’t until I was a very senior member on a $15 billion project for Shell, making, making a lot of money and having a lot of, a lot of authority in my position and all of these things, right?  


I was just, you know, top of where I could be. It wasn’t until then that I realized that I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t be ashamed of my career in construction. There’s a, there’s a serious negative stigma because I don’t think that people necessarily understand that, that there is so much that you can do in this industry.  


And again, that’s just in construction itself, let alone you tie in the technology side of this, right? And the interesting thing about it was I was having that conflict and I came to this recognition at the same time that I was struggling with the idea of leaving my job because it was so personally satisfying.  


I loved my job. It was firefighting all the time, complex problem solving, you know, interfacing with a lot of people. I love talking with people. You know, it was fantastic. There was so much just great with it.  


But I think that that’s the industry’s fault that we don’t let everybody else in the world know that that we can do such amazing things.  

So so one thing I’d like to bring up this that’s great as far as you know how it is that we’re attracting top talent into the industry and and how how applicants can differentiate themselves and and do do great work through the interview process you did an excellent job of Outlining this for our audience, but I’m curious what what companies can do to attract top talent in their industry So you specialize in construction tech with LMRE.  


What are you seeing? The companies that are having the highest level of success. Yeah, what are you seeing them do to attract these people?  


Romey Oulton:  

Mm -hmm. So I’ve literally just come off a panel about Gen Z.  


So I’m sorry to gear it towards that obviously every generation to attract talent from all generations is very important, but it’s also Important that we have that brand awareness like you said to pull in the next generation of workers and Again from our survey and I know I do have this statistic correct and 76% of those in our but environment tech salary report and satisfaction report said Feeling valued and feeling like your part of something important and making change Was the number one thing that was important to them now on a personal level When you join a company, how can a company make you feel like that?  


Well, is there a clear roadmap to progression? Is there kind of training opportunities? Is there? What that is their mentorship is their sponsorship schemes, but also on a company level like what? Is your product fixing and I know everyone thinks we just want a four -day week and like free beers in the fridge or something But really what we want to do like sustainability is a huge part of construction So companies should be really like tapping into that more philanthropic societal issue whether it’s worker safety whether it’s like mental health or things like that construction, whether it’s decarbonizing concrete, plugging into that and making sure that their messaging and their thought leadership is attracting those people who care about the bigger picture.  


I think there are three key pillars and I was speaking about this with Max Diaz who’s one of the partners of a VC called 25 Ventures. Recruitment is absolutely essential. Are you looking in the right places?  


Are you doing a good job at looking in more than just what you deem as the right places? What’s the interview structure like? Is it inclusive? Will people see people like them, etc? You then have retention which I alluded to was about the roadmaps and career progression and so on.  


And then there’s belonging and transformation which I think is potentially the most interesting focus at the moment. It’s about every voice being heard up and down the company. So whether you’re five people, whether you’re 500 people.  


Making sure your employees are like one body and one union and that is how you don’t only like Attract and retain the top talent, but you give them a whole career not just a job  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, they they I imagine that’s how you can Maximize the efficacy of every person as well.  


So so thinking about it from the employer standpoint You know, obviously you care on an individual personal level For a long time a lot of people will say Give give companies and corporations a bad rap as if as if it’s just like this this big monster But but we’re all people right companies are just made up of people, right?  


so so the employers obviously, you know, they they have on a personal level, you know some sort of so buy -in and and commitment to the employee but even just in a selfish level by Providing that vision and that structure and that investment into the employees You’re also getting the best level of work like that the most efficient and effective work out of every single employee as well So so there’s a major benefit for the company to do this Yeah, like your company you may have the best rocket science idea idea ever But your your company are your people and if you’re treating your employees well and they feel valued 


Romey Oulton:  

 I can guarantee your customers will get the treatment from happy employees who feel valued Who will then make them feel valued like it’s a food chain of caring Yeah, and I think when you’re in the rush of just getting your products out there and VC funding and everything Priorities can get slightly blurred But and I’ll have to plug Josh leave you from document crunch and they have the cruncher family.  


They’ve done an incredible job at Really building that brand of family and I can guarantee that will attract some of the top ton in this face  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, and retain them. Yeah, Tori It’s it’s one thing in order to get the right people in the door But if they turn right around and leave as soon as they see you  


Romey Oulton:  

And that’s the culture piece.  


No money can outweigh what people see as a toxic environment.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, absolutely. I know this episode is running a little long but I want to make sure that we. 


Romey Oulton:  

Sorry, I think that we can both be a little long -winded.  


Wes Edmiston:  

No, I wanted to give you the opportunity to talk about the women in construction tech that you’ve been doing that you were one of the co -founders for, right?  


Yeah, as one of the founding members and then we have about 12 local chapters. Oh, that’s awesome. So what is the mission of this and how can people get involved if they’re interested in joining women in construction tech?  


Romey Oulton:  

Yeah, so I think I alluded to it earlier but the database that we are creating is to make sure that we have no excuses anymore in the industry. We have centralized and streamlined data if you want to hire a woman, if you want to have a woman on a panel, look no further, come to us.  


It’s free and accessible. Obviously, there’s intersections as well. not just women, we need to help in this space, anyone from a minority group. The other thing is just to create a platform to celebrate and champion successes of women in the space.  


The challenge is we have a global outlook. We partner with Blueprint, Built Worlds, but then we have a very intimate focus with local chapters where it’s like soul cycle, boxer size, dinners in New York.  


So if you’re listening and want to be involved, the first thing I’d say is reach out, well, no, follow us on LinkedIn, obviously, women in construction tech, and sign up to our database, which is via the website, and then reach out to your local chapter, see what events are going on.  


If you want to be a local chapter with Global, we have them in Paris and London across the US. So yeah, drop us a message or drop me a message, the more people involved, the better.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, no, that’s excellent.  


I think it’s interesting what you said you all are doing with the central database of people. That way you can just effectively eliminate the excuses, right? Most of the time, these groups, they’re very social.  


Hey, I’m part of this organization. It’s very much like you’re saying, like the chapter membership and all of that, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an organization saying, all right, listen people, you’ve had this excuse for this long, but here’s the answer, here’s everybody, just stop with the BS, right?  


So I think that’s a great idea.  


Romey Oulton:  

No, it’s absolutely. Because we can’t just speak, like it’s great to support women, but just speaking about it isn’t going to change anything at all.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, absolutely.  


One of the things that I’ve always said to people is like, your job, if you have an expectation, right, one of the things you have to do is just remove the excuses, right? And it sounds like you’re doing exactly that.  


You’re just removing the excuses so that if we’re not then getting the outcome, we can say, well, that’s clearly not it. What else is going on now, right? So no, great job with, I mean, great idea with that.  


I haven’t really heard of any organization. any other organization doing that. So, yeah.  


Romey Oulton:  

Well, I can’t take credit. It’s the amazing ladies I work with, and I learn so much from all of them, like every day, and that’s another key part, which just comes naturally with the organization.  


It’s the nicest community of people. And there’s always opportunity as well, in the sense that when you’re building those organic relationships, you don’t know what that door opens to, kind of to underline.  


Wes Edmiston: 

Yeah, no, absolutely. Again, great, great job to the organization. I hope to, to very often, to grow when you grow to a hundred different chapter locations all over the world. But for seeing you continue to grow.  

Rapid Fire Questions

Wes Edmiston: 

Romey, we’re running right up on time. We wanna ask a few last minute rapid fire questions to get to know Romey Oulton the person, not just the professional. So first off, what is one word that best describes you?  


Romey Oulton: 

I’m gonna do two. Energetic or emotional. Swings between the two. Sorry, it’s true.  


Wes Edmiston:  

No reason to apologize. That’s, if it’s you, that’s great.  


Romey Oulton:  

What’s your idea of a perfect vacation? Oh, uh… Activities and tanning.  


Tanning whilst doing activities. Activities on the beach.  


Wes Edmiston:  

No, that’s awesome. Yeah, it sounds great. What’s your favorite book?  


Romey Oulton:  

A Fine Balance. And I don’t know the author, but it’s set in India and amazing.  


So everyone should read it.  


Wes Edmiston:  

Yeah, I’ll look it up. What’s your favorite movie?  


Romey Oulton:  

Anything with Margot Robbie in. Hmm, yeah. I love her.  


Wes Edmiston:  

If you could give one piece of advice to somebody just starting off in their career, what would it be?  


Romey Oulton:  

Be yourself, 100%. Just be, like, lean into your uniqueness because that’s what will make you stand out. Yeah, what’s your favorite quote? Nelson Mandela. I think this is the quote. You never lose…  


Oh, what is it? You either win or you learn, you never fail. Something about that. He executed it better than me, believe it or not.  


Wes Edmiston:  

I thought that was great delivery. Great job. If you could have dinner with any one famous person living or dead, who would it be?  


Romey Oulton:  

Margot Robbie. If you’re listening, Margot, call me.  


Wes Edmiston:  

That’s awesome. I hope you end up getting the dinner. Let me know how it goes with Margot. You can come. Sounds great. Romey, thank you very much for joining us here today.  


Romey Oulton: 

Thank you for having me.