What does your role entail?
The role is about engaging our people to deliver positive HSSE outcomes. This includes providing direction, risk strategies and the HSSE framework to enable our divisions and project teams at all levels in the business be successful. Equally, HSSE as a function engages all areas and levels across the business, providing insight on broader business issues and risks invaluable contributions in my roles in the Clough Executive and ACA board.
How did you navigate your career?
I learned early in my career I am effective as a ‘change agent’ and by working with individuals, teams, and organisations was able to develop, implement and sustain step changes in performance. From my early career as an environmentalist in the oil & gas sector, through mining where I applied the same skills to improve health & safety outcomes, I have taken on organisational challenges where I can make difference. The construction sector with the dynamic high-risk environment and significant level of work-related fatalities was a natural progression.
What has been your career highlight?
Working with dynamic leaders who are aligned and support good initiatives to improve business outcomes. I have been fortunate to work with high performance leadership teams twice in my career including the team here at Clough. The construction industry has faced many challenges in the last few years as markets constricted, followed by the impact of COVID-19 however when you enjoy working with your team, can still have a laugh and support each other during the ups and downs there is nothing better.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Workplace fatalities, a total of five in my career. The first as an acting GM on a mine site, the last as the lead investigator. The futility of losing someone to a workplace event and spending three months investigating how many opportunities there were to prevent it will be with me for the rest of my life. I was faced with a decision, walk away from my chosen career or learn personally and professionally from the events. The experience taught me resilience, the power of clear, direct conversations and a need to expand my own understanding of risk and as leaders how we influence the decision making of others.
What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
Valuing diversity in all forms – indigenous, gender equity and multiculturalism with career paths not limited by these factors. The emergence of Sustainability and the societal expectations on use of sustainable methods of design and construction, together with industry support of renewable energy projects, like the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydroelectricity project which Clough is constructing. On the back of COVID-19 the shift to flexible working in the multiple forms ‘working from home’ has enabled providing the ‘white collar’ workforce the ability to self-manage work-life balance.
What would be your one piece of advice for other women aspiring to progress in the construction industry?
Jump on in and be an advocate for your own development! The industry is dynamic with a myriad of career paths which can lead to areas you may not have known about or even considered as being of interest. You will learn more in twelve months than most your colleagues working in other sectors will learn in three years if you are prepared to take risks. A career in the construction industry will be challenging but also really rewarding.
What are your aspirations for the future?
Continue to influence the policies and strategic directions of the construction industry to support development of workforce and advocate for diversity across the sector. Maintain the focus on positive health and safety outcomes across the industry and promote sustainable construction design and methods. Partnering with clients on equitable commercial agreements, sharing of risk and developing the culture which with-stands economic shifts.
What does being a director of the Australian Constructors Association mean to you?
I am part of a collective group of construction professionals working to make a positive difference within the industry and in our relationship with client and government agencies. We are changing perceptions and making improvements in areas like diversity, safety, mental health and ensuring the industry is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable in the years to come.