What does your role entail?
Co-ordination of, and contribution to, setting the health, safety, environment and quality strategy at Group level. Ensuring McConnell Dowell is legally compliant with the global health, safety and environment legislations whilst allowing each Business Unit to manage their individual risks in ways tailored to their specific requirements. I am also a member of Exco and a director of McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd – so my role encompasses the diverse elements of each of those duties. The final string to my bow is managing the global insurance program for the Group as a whole, including our parent company Aveng.
How did you navigate your career?
I worked in risk and insurance for many years in the UK, moving to Australia in 1999. McConnell Dowell asked me to join them in 2000 and I haven’t looked back since. McConnell Dowell offered exactly the culture and approach to industry that resonated with my personal alignment so it was an easy decision to join the company. After being at McConnell Dowell for around 15 years, working my way up from insurance assistant to global insurance manager, I was offered the Executive General Manager Health and Safety, Environment and Quality (EGM HSEQ) role – although not from a health & safety background, I had handled risk all of my working life plus been exposed to health & safety management through management of the workers compensation claims. To approach the EGM HSEQ role from a risk perspective means that I can contribute from a slightly different view point. Sitting on Exco also means that I am able to contribute to management of the company more broadly than only the HSEQ space.
What has been your career highlight?
The construction industry is a fickle one, construction companies of all sizes go through cycles of prosperity. To still be with McConnell Dowell through some incredibly challenging times in construction, and to see the company grow in so many ways, brings me genuine joy. It is a real highlight to greet newcomers to the company and be able to share the amazing stories of the projects we have completed and the positive impact we have made on so many communities.
What has been your biggest challenge?
In 2017 we had a fatality on one of our projects involving a labour hire worker to a subcontractor. The impact emotionally on myself and those on the project was immense – working through that period of time was difficult for everybody.
What do you think is the most important change happening in the construction industry?
The most important change is the move towards a more ‘normalised’ working environment. The push for a 5 day working week, more reasonable hours and more diversity. The industry has changed over the past 50 years but there is more change to come. Moving towards a more worker friendly environment will have a positive impact on recruitment and allow more women to enter the industry.
What would be your one piece of advice for other women aspiring to progress in the construction industry?
Go for it! There are so many opportunities in construction as it is such a diverse industry with many different career pathways. You can start in one direction and before you know it there are many other options open to you.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My aspiration is that the industry will have move to a more collaborative model with the Clients and others involved. The alliances in Victoria for the level crossing removal projects have worked really well for all parties and show what can be achieved if everybody pulls together commercially. This, coupled with more diversity and better working hours will make construction the ‘go to’ career of the future.
What does being a director of the Australian Constructors Association mean to you?
Being a director provides the opportunity to shape the construction industry as part of the ACA. To be able to contribute to a strong voice of the industry, and represent your company, adds so much value to the work we do in driving the construction industry forward. We are demonstrating that gender diversity is achievable and that great results come naturally when organisations change their thinking in this space.