What does your role entail?
My job entails creating a culture of innovation, sustainability and quality throughout our process, from design all the way through to delivery. Essentially, I get to work with our people, to drive process improvement, remove waste, implement new ways of working through innovation and improve productivity. The reason why I love my job so much, is because I get to help people make their job easier, remove frustration points and then support and coach people to implement their ideas.
How did you navigate your career?
For most of my career, I have been working around construction materials, such as aggregates, concrete and asphalt. Working directly with suppliers such as Boral and Holcim for over 15 years, I also moved through functional roles around change management, business systems, Project Management and Lean Construction. I then moved into operational leadership roles, ultimately managing six sand and rock quarries across Victoria. I gained a huge amount of experience in drill and blasting, crushing and blending, logistics and overall business management including strategy and financial accountability. I then pivoted into Construction, following my passions around Innovation and sustainability.
What has been your career highlight?
While working as Operations Manager across six quarries in Victoria, the business I was leading received recognition internally and achieved the company’s Business of the Year award. This was a highlight for me because the obstacles that had to be overcome were significant, yet the team rallied and delivered an outstanding result commercially as well as operationally.
What has been your biggest challenge?
For me, working in a male dominated industry hasn’t been too much of a challenge. I have had many great business mentors, both male and female. The biggest challenge I have faced is managing work demands with managing a family. Work life balance has always been a struggle for me, and it continues to be. Relentlessly triaging work is a necessity.
What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
There is certainly a huge amount of change happening in our industry at present, including advancements in technology (AI), new sustainable and recycled construction materials and new modern methods of construction, such as modular building. Coupled with a significant change in attitudes around the demands on our people. The industry has one of the highest suicide rates in Australia and the traditional approach of 12 hours shifts, 6 or 7 day weeks, with lengthy occupational demands, needs to change. We are starting to see a shift in attitudes, which will certainly lead to changes in the way we work in the future.
What would be your one piece of advice for other women aspiring to progress in the construction industry?
If you’re coming into the industry early in your career, don’t wait to be invited to the table. Proactively get involved in as many aspects of our operation as possible and then lead without authority or title. Be confident that you can influence the outcome. If you’re coming into the industry later in your career, believe in your own transferable skills that have endless applications. We don’t need to all follow the same path to get to the same outcome.
What are your aspirations for the future?
I certainly do aspire to broaden my remit, focusing more on innovative approaches and performance. I would like to lead new ways of working around innovative and recycled materials for the future (such as graphene concrete), operationalise advanced technological solutions of tomorrow (like Artificial intelligence, robotics) and embed advancements in human innovation (to build capacity in our people) to deliver superior performance.