What does your role entail?
As well as managing the legal and risk function at Laing O’Rourke, I also sit on the Australian board and executive that requires me to work across a broad spectrum of issues including diversity and inclusion, setting the strategy for the business and monitoring the performance of projects through our weekly performance reviews. This is complemented by leadership roles on specific large scale projects where I can provide a varied perspective on issues.
How did you navigate your career?
I’ve always set career goals – working with coaches and mentors to deliberately set career goals and establish the skills and capabilities required to make the next step in my career. I also took some risky roles, outside of my areas of expertise, to stretch and grow and ensure I wasn’t perceived as “just a lawyer”. These steps, coupled with having a few key sponsors who have supported me through my career, have helped me progress through Laing O’Rourke.
What has been your career highlight?
The highlight for me has been the opportunity to work across diverse roles over 14 years at Laing O’Rourke. Whenever I have wanted to try something new or be challenged in a different area, that new role or learning opportunity has been handed to me, allowing me to continue to develop and grow. This is what is unique about Laing O’Rourke – they don’t pigeonhole you by your background, rather they foster your strengths and leadership skills and encourage diversity of background and thinking.
What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been the “mother juggle” – continuing to be successful as a senior executive at Laing O’Rourke but at the same time doing all I can to be a good Mum to Archie and Felix (who are now 8 and 5 years old). It continues to be a struggle, especially in lock down with home schooling, but I feel lucky that I have the opportunity to be successful in my career and be a Mum, thanks to the support of my husband and others.
What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
Our industry needs to rapidly embrace and change the way we go to work to support broader sustainability goals – both in terms of the inputs into the construction process but also the way we deliver projects to better support and protect our environment and the people that work in it. If we don’t do something dramatic, quickly, we’ll have no chance of meeting the sustainability targets required to make a difference to global warming and support our industry to grow.
What would be your one piece of advice for other women aspiring to progress in the construction industry?
You are not alone. Find a cohort of women or just one great woman who can help you navigate your way through the many challenges you’ll face as a minority in our industry. These women can help sponsor you through your career and help you build broader industry networks, critical for success in leadership roles.
What are your aspirations for the future?
To continue to help shape a better industry for all, through my role at Laing O’Rourke and through the Australian Constructors Association and Construction Industry Leadership Forum.
What does being a director of the Australian Constructors Association mean to you?
Being a director of the Australian Constructors Association gives me an unique opportunity to work closely with government to help shape policies for our industry and to also develop deeper relationships with my contractor colleagues, so that we can collectively move together to create the industry we all want to work in.