Saving the planet one road at a time

Saving the planet one road at a time

Little did she know as a girl growing up in Lithuania that one day Victoria Vasiliauskaite would own a road construction company in the South-East of England.

Victoria, an only child is from the town of Vilnius and was a multiple Lithuanian champion in water skiing and alpine skiing.

With a Master’s degree in Engineering and another in International Business Management, Victoria has worked at executive level in multi-disciplines in the normally male-dominated agriculture, insurance, technology, and healthcare sectors across a number of continents.

Five years ago, Victoria and her partner James Bailey were looking for a fresh challenge. They purchased a long-established road construction company – Hailsham Roadways (Roadways) – now one of the largest employers in East Sussex as well as a regional leader in road construction in the South-East. The company was steeped in traditional methods and culture which meant there was ample potential to transform it into the modern, ethically based organisation it is today.

Victoria is an expert in business transformation and has led such projects for a multitude of different types of companies across the world, from SMEs to blue chip corporations.

Roadways has invested heavily in the last five years in new equipment, technology, training, and innovation in more ethical ways in which to construct highways.

The company works with local authorities, Highways England, developers and architects across the South.

As co-owner and Head of Operations, Victoria ensures the business has the right culture and skills to grow from strength to strength. This last year has seen profits increase despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The company has a loyal, conscientious, and happy workforce of 70 directly employed staff. Independent engagement surveys confirm staff engagement is going up every year; and 85% of the workforce want to stay with the company for more than three years. Roadways maintains all its appropriate industry accreditations as well as Investors in People.

Greener road construction

Victoria and her partner are deeply committed to ensuring Roadways offers clients environmentally friendly products and the latest technology to make carbon savings, along with safe working practices and first-class quality projects. Hailsham Roadways is the first construction company in East Sussex to offer recycled road construction materials that save 40% of CO2 in comparison to the traditional materials.  This means longer-lasting roadways, less disruption long-term, and savings for taxpayers.

Always leading from the front, Victoria site manages each major project, liaising with clients, partners, contractors, operatives, local authorities, and regulators during the planning and execution process. She is a frequent visitor on sites to check on quality and inspire Roadways operatives to strive for excellence.

Safe construction or no construction at all

Health and safety is the prime concern in road construction, followed by employees’ mental health and wellbeing. An independent survey shows a 96% safety record and highlights that the team has the freedom and ability to raise any safety concerns, with management listening and responding.

Victoria instigated regular counselling services and visits from massage therapists for the teams. A new addition to the wellbeing offering are yoga classes several times a week. In normal times, there are frequent social events to ensure a cohesive company culture.

Mental health is a particular worry among road construction workers, most of whom are male, and it has been proven that Roadways’ proactive approach has helped immensely during lockdown. Classed as key workers, the company’s team are on call 24/7 for emergency road works on behalf of clients like local authorities and utility companies. This means some have been away from their loved ones frequently this year which has been difficult.

A recent mental health campaign included some of the company’s influential team members speaking openly about their issues, which resulted in others feeling more able to acknowledge and ask for help.

Road workers are often the subject of abuse by local residents and road users who cannot see why jobs are being done, for instance, at night. Victoria takes a zero tolerance to incidents of verbal or physical abuse. During lockdown, Victoria ensured extra safety procedures and training were carried out to support her teams.

Young people are the future

Victoria is also an Enterprise Adviser for Hailsham Community College, Parent Governor at the Motcombe Infants School in Eastbourne, and an active Industry Champion.

She is passionate about young people’s employability potential, training and development. Local students are encouraged to do work experience with Roadways whose training and development is first class. This early contact with potential employees means a flow of interested young people who might become the Roadways operatives or engineers of tomorrow, based locally.

She has built an extremely committed team at Roadways, is people-focused, knowledgeable, and experienced. Over £300,000 has been invested over the past three years to upskill office and site operatives.

Social value

Local charities and not-for-profits benefit from Victoria’s hard work too. The company has an ongoing programme of support as well as regular visits from neighbouring residents to keep them updated on what is going on at the company’s head office site. Every employee is obliged to donate at least one charitable day a year to a good cause, and as a company Roadways completes at least one charitable project each month.

Even during lockdown, Roadways continues to support its community wherever it can.

Victoria manages all this while speaking English as a second language and she and James have a young daughter. She is a truly inspirational businessperson.