Employee interview

Hear from Sandra Barr

"The arrival of technology has been the biggest change. When I started everything was paper-based."

Hear from Sandra Barr
Sandra Barr
Job title
Senior Test & Quality Analyst

Sandra Barr, Senior Test and Quality Analyst celebrated 40 years of working for NHBC in December 2021. We asked her all about her career and the changes she’s experienced over the decades.

In 1981, the year you started at NHBC, the average house price was £21,500. What do you remember about that year?

I left school in June 1981 after taking my CSEs. I’d applied for various office-based jobs, but with no luck. My mum dragged me to the careers office in Amersham and following an interview I was accepted on the Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) – a government scheme to help 16 to 18-year-olds into employment. I was assigned to NHBC for the duration of the programme.

What was your first job role?

As part of the training scheme I was able to move around all the departments to gain experience in different areas of the business. One of the main areas was the Central Records department. We didn’t really have computers in those days, so everything was paper-based. If a colleague needed to work on anything I would locate the file from storage and then file it away again once they’d finished with it.

What positions have you held since then?

When the YOP scheme ended I was taken on by NHBC as a permanent member of staff. I moved from Central Records into the Memberships Team dealing with all the builder registration admin, including renewals. It wasn’t until May 1996 that I moved into IT. The building inspectors were set up with electronic devices for the first time and my role was to help them with any problems they had with the new kit. Once the rollout had finished, I moved to the help desk to continue assisting the inspection teams with their queries.

When did you move into Testing?

I sort of fell into testing as a result of the new devices introduced in Inspection. As the technology progressed and NHBC invested more in IT I was asked to get increasingly involved in testing the new systems. I’ve been in the Testing Team for around 25 years now and am one of five Senior Test & Quality Analysts reporting into Ashley Snowdon. Two Principal Test & Quality Analysts complete our team.

You must have seen a lot of changes take place in NHBC during the past four decades. What is the most notable?

The arrival of technology has been the biggest change. When I started everything was paper-based. Computers have completely transformed the way in which we work – I’ve gone from using a manual typewriter when I started to everything being in the Cloud now!

What highlight really stands out during your time at NHBC?

When I worked in the Memberships Team, I would help organise the NHBC Annual Lunch. We didn’t have an Events Team in those days, so it was all down to us. I loved helping out at the Lunch and it was so exciting going to a nice hotel in London and meeting our builder customers.

You’ve obviously enjoyed your time working here. What makes NHBC such a great place to work?

It’s undoubtedly the people. I’ve made so many good friends over the years. Some still work for NHBC, but I also meet up regularly with friends who have moved on to other things.

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