What does your role entail?

I am currently working on the Level Crossing Removal Project for MRPA as a Senior Project Manager.  I support the delivery team to ensure successful completion of the projects on time and within the budget.

How did you navigate your career?

I migrated to Australia from Poland in 2003 after completing my Master’s degree in Civil Engineering. It has not been easy to find a role within my field on a student visa with oversees qualification. I have learnt very quickly the value of networking. From humble beginnings as a receptionist and an engineering assistant in a small consulting company, I worked very hard to meet people and prove my abilities. From there I was able to secure a role with a major construction company where, over 9 years, I grew from site engineer to acting project manager. Unfortunately while in this position I had been made redundant, while on maternity leave, the company was not able to support me as I wasn’t flexible enough.

My career then took a massive step back, together with downturn in the industry, I could not secure a role in my line of work, and I then took a position with a local council. After almost a year I secured a job interview. I walked out with the new job, however not the one I have applied for. I was told I am not flexible enough to be an engineer, but I could be an estimator. I took the opportunity.

Few months forward and my expertise from a previous job became useful, and with it came an opportunity to move back to the delivery space. I was back where I felt the most comfortable, I was back where I always wanted to be. This must have been quite obvious for people around me, as my career flourished from a junior estimator to Senior Project Manager.

What has been your career highlight?

My career highlight is probably where I am at the moment. I love what I do. I enjoy the project and the team, it is a great place to work.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was being made redundant on maternity leave. As a new mum on a year of maternity leave, my confidence suffered. I was apprehensive about how I was going to manage work and new found baby responsibilities. To find out the company I had spent nine years with, was not able to support me and integrate me back to work as I was not flexible enough was devastating. I found myself on the job market with shattered confidence trying to convince people I am the best candidate for the job.

What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?

I have become very passionate about diversity. I am actively involved and trying to make a change. Over the past few years there have been some noticeable changes, driven mostly by the client requirements, where diversity has been recognised as a positive influence on efficiencies.

Where I currently work, flexibility, work life integration and diversity are actively encouraged. It makes it a great place to work. I personally see a massive change since 2004 when I started.

What would be your one piece of advice for other women aspiring to progress in the construction industry?

My advice for the other woman is to actively network to find like-minded people, maybe other women. I also recommend finding a mentor or a sponsor who can provide advice and support. But the most important thing is to be true to yourself and do what you love.

What are your aspirations for the future?

At this stage I am planning to grow in my current role. I am looking forward to learning in this space. I do enjoy the delivery space, I like enabling people in building infrastructure that helps communities.

I am interested in supporting positive change; therefore, at some point I see myself moving to a role where I could impact a strategic change in the industry.

I hope to see a day when little girls consider construction industry as a normal career choice where gender stereotyping doesn’t exist.