FLORENCE CONSTRUCTING A NEW PERSPECTIVE
RAQUEL MANNING DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
DESIGNED AND MADE FOR WOMEN. Built for hard work. Blundstone Women’s Safety Series.
Our Cover: Founder and CEO of Blue Diamond Property Group, Raquel Manning. Cover Image: Michael Anderson, Paramount Studios.
Executive Director’s Welcome.................................... 07
Raquel Manning ................................................................. 10
Mental Health......................................................................40 Mindset................................................................................... 43 Tradie Wives ....................................................................... 48 Law Matters ........................................................................ 49 Tools and Tech.....................................................................52 Events..................................................................................... 54 Insta Sistas.............................................................................58
Editor: Josie Adams Editorial Coordinator: Amanda Kelly Design Concept: Angela Carroll Designer: Jessica Kramer; Jeff Brown; Alyssa Welke Cover image: Paramount Studios, Michael Anderson Custom Publishing Manager: Erika Brayshaw Advertising inquiries: 07 4690 9303 Editorial Enquiries: 0437 819 696 Email: email@example.com Subscriptions: 07 4690 9360 Printed by: Greenridge Group, 4 Freighter Avenue, Toowoomba QLD 4350
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Diamond in the rough Catherine Larkin................................................................. 14 New school of thought Denita Wawn....................................................................... 20 On leadership Women at Work ................................................................32 Incredible women in the industry
News Corp Australia is the exclusive Publishing Partner of Florence magazine, in conjunction with the Master Builders Association of New South Wales. ABN: 63 009 820 035. Ph: (07) 4690 9309. Website: www.newscorpaustralia.com This publication is copyright. No part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, mechanical, microcopying, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the permission of Master Builders Association of NSW or News Corp Australia. Disclaimer: The information contained within Florence magazine is given in good faith and obtained from sources believed to be accurate. The views expressed are not necessarily those of the publisher. News Corp and the Master Builders Association of New South Wales will not be held liable for any opinion or advice contained herein.
FLORENCE LOOKING TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE Welcome to the latest edition of Florence magazine. And honestly, who would’ve thought that 2021 would throw us more challenges than the previous year. But here we are... As I write this, many of you will be enjoying your first weeks of freedom after an extended period of lockdown. This year has certainly been hard on everyone in the building and construction industry with restrictions changing almost weekly. I feel a real sense of anxiety, fear and fatigue from many people in the sector. Brian Seidler writes in his introduction on page 7, about the toll on mental health during these times. Genuine connection, support and friendship are so fundamentally important right now and I urge anyone who is finding it tough to make the most of the support the industry can offer. The thing I love most about writing for Florence is being able to hear the honest stories of the most incredible women passionate about creating change.
This issue, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Raquel Manning, a single mum who built an entrepreneurial empire from scratch (page 10) and Catherine Larkin, the school principal transforming the future of kids in the western suburbs (page 14). Laini Bennett talks to Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn about women in leadership (page 20), and writer, Carmen Miller, talks to Maryrose Burrow who rolled the dice on a carpentry apprenticeship at 29 years of age (page 26). Amanda Kelly also chats to Joanne Papageorge, who has been part of Master Builders NSW for 44 years (page 28). I hope the stories of these inspiring women lift your spirits. They sure did mine...
Josie Adams Editor
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MATES IN CONSTRUCTION BRIAN SEIDLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MBA NSW
s this edition of Florence goes to print, the NSW Government has released its “Roadmap to Freedom”. The Roadmap sets out guidelines on how NSW will move to less restrictions, however the lifting of these restrictions are based on community vaccination rates reaching a certain level. There is no doubt the industry shut down and now some partial re-opening has created enormous challenges for our industry. What is also clear is the mental distress and despair these challenges have created are evident at every level of our industry. I thought it would be most appropriate to comment on a very unique program specifically aimed at the construction industry that deals with mental health. I speak of the extraordinary program that Mates in Construction (MIC) undertakes in the building and construction industry not only in NSW, but across the nation. It is also noted that MIC provides a regular column in Florence. MIC supports building workers through creating a workplace community “of mates looking out for mates”. The program is based on the simple idea that mental health and suicide prevention is everyone’s business, and provides mechanisms to take an active role in improving the mental health and well being of construction workers. MIC NSW commenced delivery of its new unique program in March 2013. In NSW alone more than 55,000 construction workers have completed a general awareness training program, of these, more than 3,600 have been trained as connectors —
those who can help identify the signs of distress and refer them for help. Further, 600 construction workers have undertaken an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training courses. Mates in Construction has delivered training on 400 individual projects throughout NSW, as well as visiting many NSW regional centres and addressing their communities. It is interesting when discussing these topics with those providing help at the coalface that during the pandemic certain trends can be identified which impact on the mental health of people in the construction industry. These include a combination of job loss or temporary stand down, being in lockdown, or the stress of not being able to return home, financial stress, relationship stress, and the impact of drug and alcohol misuse, possibly without external support networks. Importantly however, the other side of this has been the experience of real care and friendship where people have genuinely wanted to connect with others and provide support to those less fortunate in the industry. Mates in Construction does a fabulous job in these most uncertain and testing times. Please look out for each other and also acknowledge the amazing work the team at Mates in Construction does for our industry on a daily basis. On a final note, I would like to report that recently Mates in Construction was Internationally recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a global best practice resource. FLORENCE || 7
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FOCUS ON FLORENCE A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTION ALYSSA WELKE & JOSIE ADAMS
hen Florence Taylor’s opinions on architecture and building weren’t published in the day’s journals, she decided to publish her own. This was arguably her most significant contribution to Australian culture. The architect transformed herself into a writer of technical journalism, editor of journals and books, and an extraordinarily long career as managing director of the Building Publishing Company. Together, Florence and her husband George started the Building Publishing Co. Ltd which produced trade journals, three of which Florence edited: Harmony, Young Australia and the Australian (later Commonwealth) Home. Through their journals they campaigned for urban planning, improved construction methods and better materials; through them, they also promoted the interests of engineers, architects and builders.
For more than five decades, Florence steered the group with the journal, Building, the flagship publication of the Taylor publishing house. This Magazine was published in the interests of Architects, Builders, Craftsmen, and Property Owners, to record their doings, study their requirements, watch legislative and other movements that may affect their interests, lay before them the cream of the world’s research in their various lines, and study for them the fluctuations in property and building materials. Building set out not merely to describe events but to point out what was good, bad and indifferent. Although forced to cease publishing eight of their eleven journals, she maintained Building (later Building, Lighting and Engineering) (1907-72), Construction (1908-74) and the Australasian Engineer (1915-73), editing them herself.
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DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH Raquel Manning is proof that dark times can lead to the most stunning of successes
hatting to Raquel Manning is easy and fun. Over the past 12 months we’ve had numerous phone calls dotted with fits of laughter and lasting much longer than anticipated. She’s smart, intuitive, compassionate and can find the positive side of any situation (including the many months of lockdown this year). The proud Walwain-Wiridijui woman, mother, entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of Blue Diamond Property Group does not shy away from her past, her femininity or her vulnerability. Because she believes those very traits have made her who she is today. “I actually think it’s one of my greatest assets — being a woman and having emotional intelligence, having that very human element. “There have been times in boardrooms in the city where I’ve been surrounded by men and I think I’ve deserved more respect. But when I look at actually getting the bigger deals done and talking and merging developers together with the families to get the right deal. That is where the real value is. And I know I am more than capable of doing that.” Growing up in Western Sydney in a large family, Raquel started her career in the family’s construction and plumbing business. After working as their business manager, she said there came a time when she was keen to step up. “We had a meeting, and I can remember explaining to Dad that my work within the business deserved the same pay as my brothers. Dad was fairly oldfashioned in a way, and I can remember him saying
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‘ok well if you think you can do the job, I’ll give you a couple of my old trucks and you can run your own business from the office.’ “So, I did,” she says laughing. Her business providing 24 hour maintenance to builders alongside her family’s construction work became very successful, very quickly. Life was good Raquel said. The family had set themselves up nicely. “Then the GFC hit the construction industry and the businesses suffered significantly.” While business-wise the family had taken a hit, it was the passing of Raquel’s mother that left the family devasted. Her father in particular was overcome with grief. “Mum had always been the one who raised the children and supported dad with his work. She was the rock and Dad didn’t know what to do without her. He didn’t want to work anymore, so he retired.” Then Raquel’s marriage ended. “My choice ended up being give up my assets that I had worked so hard for or put my children on the stand in court. So, I chose to give up my assets. The boys were young, and they had been through enough.” At this stage Raquel says she remembers thinking ‘this was rock bottom’.
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“We had to start again, we had absolutely nothing. I tried to stay positive, but I was worn down.” It wasn’t until Raquel was encouraged to have a coffee with an a local businessman that things started to turn around. “So, I went and had that coffee. And he said ‘I know a little bit about your story. And I think you need a bit of a helping hand’.” He knew Raquel had worked in the development industry through construction and maintenance. He had success in development through real estate sales and now owned several commercial properties, including shopping centres. “He said ‘I think you would make a brilliant agent. If you go and do your agency diploma, I will let you a shop space, rent-free for 12 months,” Raquel said. Borrowing money from her cousin to pay for her agent’s licence and able to get a low-cost shop fit-out from an old school friend, she ran with the opportunity. Raquel came up with the business name from her young son’s drawing of a house made of blue diamonds. “It was coffee, coffee, networking, coffee, for many years. I worked hard. I would take calls while driving the boys to school. My dad would often have to pack their lunches if I had early meetings. I had all the usual feelings of guilt, because I wasn’t always around, but I think in the end, it has given my boys a very good understanding of the value of hard work.” Working predominantly in the city and western Sydney suburbs, Blue Diamond Property Group found success quickly. “I realised that my background, and everything that I’d done the last couple of decades made me way ahead of so many people. I had an advantage because of what I had experienced and learnt. I could say I had a different angle of approach. I had a different way of doing business. And I could say I was different. “Growing up where I did was very multi-national with a lot of different lifestyles. It was a nice little melting pot that has allowed me to understand people. I deal with a lot of people in the city, but obviously, out west is where a lot of the growth has been. The fact that I know how to deal with all the different cultures. And understand how they see property ownership was a good starting point. Is it to house their multi-generational family or something that they can hand down to their kids? Understanding motivation is important.
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“And from a landowners perspective, when you’re negotiating the development of a family farm, its not just about the actual land. I think developers lose sight of the fact that these owners have worked and given their everything for that land for maybe 30, 40 or 50 years. A lot of them are scared. They don’t know what to do, even when they get the money. “I’ve seen men come in like bulldozers when negotiating land acquisition and it never works. They have no idea how to relate to these people. They think if the landowners are making money, then that’s enough. But sometimes it’s not about the money.” The success of her business through a softer approach has allowed Raquel to take the time to connect with her heritage, which she only started to really discover after her mother passed away. “Growing up we weren’t really involved in the community. But after mum died, I felt drawn to discover more about her heritage and culture. And I think it has been a very healing experience for me. I feel a sense of community and a stronger sense of self.” Founder and Director of Dreamtime Women Australia, another company part of the Blue Diamond Group, Raquel has successfully achieved outstanding business results this year and was awarded the 2020 AusMumprenuers Indigenous Businesswoman Award. “Dreamtime Women Australia is something I am really excited about. I can see its potential for growth.” For Raquel, with two booming businesses, numerous awards and a home by the ocean ,success has been hard fought for, but still sweet. “I have been very lucky to have my family, friends and school friends and the community support me and I think that just comes from nuturing relationships and making connections. “If I was to give advice to any woman who is going through a hard time, I would tell them to follow their intuition, take risks, just do it. “And go have that coffee.”
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NEW SCHOOL OF THOUGHT Principal, Catherine Larkin is transforming education to prepare the youth of Western Sydney for the jobs of tomorrow JOSIE ADAMS
atherine Larkin is passionate about providing the young people of Western Sydney with an education that is going to see them with useable and tangible skills for not only a successful career but a fulfilling life. Moving away from the traditional school system, Cathwest Innovation College was formed in 2020 by the coming together of the Catholic Trade Training Centres and Loyola Senior High School. Spread over two campuses in Mt Druitt and Emu Plains, the college offers new options for students from year 10-12, with a focus on more flexible education pathways. By combining study and handson training, students are still positioned to attain their HSC while getting a head-start on their chosen career — all without the pressure of formal HSC exams. “I did the Higher School Certificate in 1977. One of my daughters did it in 2011, and the other 2015. Honestly, I would’ve been able to loan them my notes,” she said laughing. “I mean, look, you know that’s a bit of a caricature — because it has changed — but not enough. “The system is very assessment driven. And so, there is a lot of time spent in schools preparing students for exams. The other thing I would like to mention is in terms of the mental health agenda now for young people, and the percentages that have anxiety and depression. “If you tell students, they’re not going to have to do any external exams, and still be earning money and accelerated into employment. They really love that.” Part of a diocese of 23 secondary schools all with traditional learning pathways and all them finishing at the end of year 12, Catherine said its ethos of passion, pathway, and passport are key to the college’s success. “The idea is that within those schools we can identify whether particular students need something
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different in terms of their learning pathway, the style of learning and the outcome. “One of the criteria we have for all students is that they at least have an interest in something. It doesn’t have to be extremely well defined. It could be as simple as having an interest in technology or construction. Then we can help narrow it down and determine if it’s an interest in software, or hardware or whatever. We want students here to have a passion, or at least an interest in something that could become a passion.” The college offers custom-made courses enabling students to develop essential skills in time management, planning, and prioritising. In addition, students have the opportunity to learn practical, industry-specific skills preparing them for the jobs of tomorrow. “Our trade pathway involves students undertaking school-based apprenticeship and traineeship programs. What we have at our school is that you come five days a week which will consist of one day at work, one day in your trade training, and then three days doing other courses that ensure eligibility for the High School Certificate.” Catherine said the traineeships and apprenticeships available were varied with several considered ‘hard trades’ such as carpentry, plumbing and automotive. There are also trades like hairdressing, commercial cookery, and early childhood education on offer plus newer pathways such as technology and entrepreneurial skills. “And that brings me to the last key word — passport. Part of our ethos is that education really needs to focus a lot on the development of skills, because knowledge is so quickly redundant these days. So, we have what we call our skills passport. Whether you’re an apprentice, a trainee or whether you’re in the inquiry pathway; we want students to be understanding and developing and mastering skills. Things like communication, critical thinking,
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collaboration, but also things like literacy and numeracy — the employability skills — they are hugely important. “The way we pitch it to the students is that competency in literacy and numeracy is not about having to pass an exam. If you want to get that dream job in the future. If you want to win that contract you have to know how to quote. You need to be literate to make money. “For a kid on a trade pathway, their passport will be more about those employability skills and the actual products they’ve created.” The passport system the college offers is working. The students already have their apprenticeship or traineeship secured while at school and a staggering 80% continue in that employment and training after school. “But if it is a university degree they would like to pursue, the skills and actual experience they have will allow them to choose it if they wish to.” Which leads to what Catherine said is one of the major issues with students choosing a different educational pathway, particularly when it comes to young women. “Unfortunately, I think our society still prizes a university pathway and qualification. But the fact is, in many cases, students struggle in traditional
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academic environments and then there are changing workplace requirements. “We want the gifts that our students have to be equally valued. And that’s the message we want to get out. We value young people. And we will work with them,” Catherine said. “We also don’t try to mould them. And in fact, because we’re a new school, they are moulding us as we try to be responsive to what they need. “What’s actually happening is that students are coming here because they are wanting to leave mainstream education. Their families are looking for another way that is more holistic and sets these young people up for success career wise and in life.”
E JE A RCHITEC TURE WELCOMES NEW PRINCIPAL C o ng ratul ati o ns to o ur new Pri nc i pa l , Hol l y Nyqui st, who i s j oi ni ng our l ea dershi p te a m . H o l l y ha s ove r 2 0 yea rs’ experi enc e a s a n a rc hi tec t spa nni ng a va ri ety of i nd ustr y s e c to rs i n c l u di ng resi denti a l , com m erc i a l , i ndustri a l , educati on, c hi l dca re, he a l thca re , a ge d ca re a nd sport & rec reati on. Most rec entl y, Hol l y ha s l ed the desi gn te a m a nd pro j e c t m a na ged the ref urbi shm ent of the NSW Am bul a nc e Northern C o ntro l C e ntre , a nd i s c ur rentl y i nvol ved i n a num ber of DPI & NSW Hea l th proj ec ts.
w w w. e j e . c o m . a u
ejearchitecture | ejeinteriors
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5 minutes with... Ashley Wild — skateboard ramp manufacturers
RAMPING IT UP
Could you tell me a little bit about your business?
point not to lose touch of our clients.
We predominately are a skate product business, selling products from halfpipes and street skate products.
Who are your main customers?
Where are you based? We are based in Coolum Beach on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. How long has it been established? We ran the business from home from 2017, while we both had other full-time jobs, then in 2020 we formalised the business and went full time and have not regretted that leap of faith. What do you offer? Flatpack and installed skate products are what makes us different. Ashley Wild offers a personalised service. I find calling businesses these days you often get an automated message, so we really make a 18 || FLORENCE
Families, men and women with the dream of owning their own ramp. Our biggest market is in coastal locations. And you would be surprised how many older men order ramps for their kids (when really it was their dream as a child to own their very own ramp). I guess that’s where the slogan came from Dreams are made with Ashley Wild Ramps. What is your role and how many people do you employ? I am the director of the company, my role is to manage the work, make sure all products are running to the time frame, manage workflow and the sevem team members. What made you decide on specialising in making skate ramps? Will, my husband, was working away from home and
on his weekends at home, he would make products for our three kids to skate on. I guess it just evolved, and we saw something missing in the market. Our first ramp transitions were created with a fishing rod curve…I know right, so technical! We have come a long way since then. What do you like most about your career? The power that it’s mine and we are in control of making it great! The bonus is working my own hours and being able to be a mum (‘not a regular mum but a cool mum’ lol sorry couldn’t help myself), wife and a director. As the business has grown this is getting trickier to manage as I have had to make more time in the business to grow it. But it comes down to time management and always remembering what is important to us. What do you think is your greatest career achievement so far? Hmm, this is tricky. I truly think the greatest achievement was to take the plunge to take on the business full time and rent a warehouse. It was scary because really who knows if a business is going to take off or not. It was a complete stab in the dark and has paid off. Are any aspects of your career a challenge, particularly as a woman running a business in the building and construction industry? Running a business, being a mother, a wife and trying to create time for me has been full on, there are some days I wish I could pop back to my public service job and have a down day with no emails or phone calls. But would that be as thrilling hearing an email ding and seeing an order come in? No, no… it wouldn’t be. Skateboarding could also be considered a maledominated sport (most sports are really). Have you encountered any gender bias through working in the construction industry within a particular sport? On the skating scene I haven’t encountered this, but I am more so in the background of the scene. But in the construction side of things and running the business I have been treated pretty poorly on a number of occasions. I am often asked “Is there someone who can speak to me about the products?’ …umm I know more than anyone dude… how can I help? The worst one so far was when a man called from another company and asked for the directors’ name. I told him that was me. He then insisted on asking “who will be helping make the decisions?” I make the decisions… pfft. Sorry pal I will not be doing business with you. I value myself more than that. It has been interesting. I mean I have come across some incredible men in this industry don’t get me wrong, but there is still a huge gap in gender-bias behaviour. Have you faced any specific challenges in your business because of Covid lockdown, restrictions? How have they been overcome?
We install a lot of Halfpipes in NSW, initially construction was able to cross the border for work purpose, though this was recently changed, and no workers have been able to cross into NSW or into QLD. This has affected our installs in NSW, we have so many clients that don’t want a flatpack. To overcome this hurdle, I am essentially looking for a carpenter in NSW who can potentially do install for us, so we send a flatpack then the client uses this go-to contractor to build the ramp. It is all a learning curve and really is about being adaptable. What are your plans for the business in the future? GROWTH! We have a little bit of fine tuning to do still but would love one day to open another warehouse in NSW. We are also about to open a different arm of the business. Will, my husband, has stepped out of the ramp space and now is growing the other arm. He specialises working in the space of building and commercial fitouts. So here I am growing Ashley Wild while he runs that, when do we stop nobody knows. But right now, we are in deep learning and adapting to this crazy world. FLORENCE || 19
MASTER OF HER DOMAIN A Leadership Journey and Lessons Learned LAINI BENNETT
hen Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn was in her mid-20s, she was National Industrial Relations Director for the Australian Hotel Association (AHA). Her role required her to represent the AHA at the Industrial Relations Commission, so it was disconcerting when peer advocates weren’t keen to work with her — both because she was a woman, and due to a perceived lack of experience. Wanting to be accepted, Wawn toned down her bubbly personality and brightly coloured clothes, investing in conservative black and navy 90s power suits. But increasingly, she felt out of sorts. “I didn’t feel comfortable because it just wasn’t me,” she says.
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So, one weekend she went out and bought “every pastel suit known to mankind” and the next time she was at the Commission, rocked up wearing her selfdescribed “girly girly” clothes. Finally feeling like her true self, her confidence bloomed, and it showed in the way she walked, talked, and in her passionate advocacy. From then on, she embraced her femininity. The face of an industry Wawn is the face of the Master Builders Australia (MBA) and the organisation’s first female CEO in its 130-year history. She ensures its 32,000 members are spoken for at the highest level.
Wawn says that even though she has always worked in male-dominated industries, she has received strong support from men, in particular senior leaders such as board members. However, for some of her appointments there have been naysayers, with colleagues asking her outright whether she could manage juggling her job and her family. Asked whether she is ever intimidated by some of the big personalities that she encounters in her role, Wawn says she is not, and acknowledges that she, too, is a strong personality. “My fundamental view is that, regardless of who someone is, you have to respect them as a person and to respect their role,” she says. Knowing when to walk away Showing respect includes learning to walk away when a situation becomes heated, such as during negotiations over key policy, rather than risking saying something she’ll later regret. It was widely reported in 2020 when Wawn did just that; shaking with anger, she walked out of an IR reform working group meeting after being blindsided by a deal the then Attorney General had struck with the Business Council of Australia (BCA) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to process preference union agreements. “I knew if I stayed in that room, I’d have lost it, and I was gonna lose the respect of other people — quite rightly,” she says. “So I took my own advice to my children: walk away, calm down. “When I came back in, I was very strong and strident in my delivery of my message, but it was done in a way that was respectful to them.” Finding common ground Wawn says the most challenging aspect of her role as MBA CEO is also the most gratifying. That is, ensuring all the MBA member organisations have been appropriately consulted and have reached agreement on key policy and tactics, before she can act publicly. “Bringing together strong personalities for a common goal and a common purpose is much harder, actually, than the execution of that strategy from an external perspective,” she says. By means of example, she cites the delivery of a series of contentious MBA political advertisements
in the lead up to the 2019 Federal election, campaigning against an Australian Labor Party housing tax proposal. The proposed ads were hard hitting, and it was critical that all MBA member bodies understood and agreed upon the approach first. Wawn says achieving this agreement was one of the most gratifying points in her career at the MBA to date, probably even more so than implementing the successful campaign. While achieving consensus at work can at times be challenging, on the home front, Wawn and her husband are on the same page: their family is their priority. Wawn credits the support of her parents and husband, Mike, for making her career possible. “My husband is extraordinary. He’s my rock, he keeps me grounded,” she says. They share household duties, with her husband often stepping up to take on additional responsibility when her work hours demand it. Changing expectations While it’s common for women to have careers today, Wawn believes there is still a cultural expectation that women should be the primary carer in a family. “Children have two parents — it doesn’t automatically have to be the woman,” she says. She recommends that women have a robust conversation with their life partner about what the future will look like with children in it, to ensure they’re on the same page about caring responsibilities. “Women also need to be kind to themselves,” Wawn says. “It’s taken me some time to learn that I can be a leader, and I can be a mum, but I can’t be a good leader or a good mum unless I am looking after myself. And that’s both mentally and physically,” she says. While Wawn says she is a work in progress, she clearly understands what works for her, in the office and at home. She leads by example, showing it is possible to be both a formidable and feminine leader, who has mastered her domain. Laini Bennett writes a Women in Leadership blog, called Birds of a Feather. Visit: lainibennett.com to read more interviews with inspiring women. ABOVE: Master Builders Australia CEO Denita Wawn.
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FIRST LADY OF ENGINEERING LAINI BENNETT
r Bronwyn Evans has been appointed as the first female CEO of not one, but two respected institutions. Her achievements in her male-dominated profession of engineering are equally impressive. Currently, she is CEO of peak industry body Engineers Australia which, with 100,000 members, is the fourth largest industry group in Australia. Since only 15% of engineers are women, Dr Evans’ appointment as their first female CEO is all the more auspicious. Previously, she spent over five years as the first female CEO of Standards Australia, which develops safety and technical standards for hundreds of industries. She also has a PhD in Engineering and is an experienced board member, among other achievements. Where it all began Dr Evans didn’t wake up one day and decide she wanted to be a CEO. Her career goals were more pragmatic than that. One of seven children, money was usually tight, so from a young age her goal was financial independence — and keeping up with her siblings. “Was I ambitious? Absolutely. I come from near the bottom end of a large family, and let me tell you, from a very young age I’ve been saying: ‘Wait for me!’” Dr Evans says.
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Left to right: Nick Flemming, EA Chair and National President, Mark Bailey, with Dr Evans.
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Urged on by her mother and encouraged by her high school mathematics teachers, Dr Evans knew she didn’t want a traditional female role. However, she didn’t consider it for her career until her then future husband suggested it. A mechanical engineer, he persuaded her to study electrical engineering, noting her strengths in physics, chemistry and mathematics. “It was the perfect choice,” she says. “It’s a bit like when you don’t know what good looks like, but when you see it, you realise ‘ah, that fits really well’.” One of the boys In her electrical engineering classes at the University of Wollongong, Dr Evans was usually the only woman. This never troubled her, nor did it bother her male classmates, who treated her as one of the gang. “The gender divide didn’t seem to be a major issue. If anything, it was more about the different tribes of engineers. So, we electrical people stuck together!” she says.
Investing in herself Several years later, as a member of the Cochlear executive team, Dr Evans made a conscious decision to further invest in her communication skills. Her role required her to speak publicly, and it was important to her that she project the same credibility she’d observed in her peers and Cochlear’s CEO. So she undertook singing lessons to learn how to use her voice, and a National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) executive communication course. “I found that if I could use my voice well and sound credible, it gave me the confidence to feel credible. And ultimately, if I can be so bold, to be credible,” Dr Evans says. “It was a really good tool to build confidence in myself.” As her career progressed, Dr Evans also employed the help of professional mentors. Working with them, and through her own observation, she identified three key areas that career women need to develop to position themselves for leadership opportunities. Performance
Similarly, on her first job as an engineering cadet, Dr Evans was often the only woman on her team, but never encountered any overt discrimination or harassment. Rather, she found a willing mentor in the senior engineer, who helped her gain valuable experience by placing her on interesting projects.
The first is job performance; an ability to not only do your job, but to do it well. “You need to make sure your performance is credible. That’s the minimum bar,” Dr Evans says.
Communicating with confidence
The second is building a professional presence, both intellectually and physically. Dr Evans suggests reading widely on world economics and geopolitics, in order to engage with confidence on a range of topics. Physically, learning how to speak in public is important, but so is dressing for the role.
Dr Evans’ first major leadership role was in Singapore, where she ran GE Healthcare’s Asian operations for Ultrasound Service. She loved the conglomeration of cultures, and admired her multilingual colleagues, especially when her Australian accent proved difficult for people to follow. “I’d say something, then all heads would turn to Lince, my Head of Finance from Indonesia, who would repeat it in her own accented-English, which they could understand!” she laughs. The experience taught her how to be a good communicator. She learned not only to speak slowly and clearly, but to find more succinct ways of delivering her message, tailored to her audience. “Even if English is everyone’s first language, not everyone in your audience has the level of detail on a particular topic. Learning how to respond to an audience is a skill that I’ve just found universally very useful,” she says.
Profile Finally, aspiring leaders should build a public profile. “It doesn’t matter how well you perform or present if no one knows about you,” she says. Dr Evans suggests building a profile by doing such things as speaking at events, writing a blog, or taking on projects. “Rounding out your leadership with these three elements means that you can position yourself well for a role if it comes up,” she says.
Laini Bennett writes a Women in Leadership blog, called Birds of a Feather. Visit: lainibennett.com
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BUILDING A DREAM LIFE When speaking with SQ Projects foreman Maryrose Burrow, you can’t help but feel inspired CARMEN MILLER
ossessing an unflinching drive to succeed and passion for her profession, you instantly get the impression she does nothing by half measure. A year on from completing her apprenticeship and Maryrose built a Master Builders Award-winning home, a second MBA nominated home and today is running multimillion dollar, high-end projects. And while these achievements are nothing short of impressive, it was her incredible tenacity to roll the dice on a carpentry apprenticeship at 29 years of age and leave behind the stability of her previous career which truly speaks to her character. “There wasn’t one, real lightbulb or Oprah ‘Aha’ moment of inspiration for my career change, it was a slow burning process,” Maryrose said. “A combination of gradual dissatisfaction in my previous work environment, and shift in interest away from my higher education studies saw me searching for more. “I was working as a registrar for the largest art storage facility for public and private collections in Australia, handling artworks of every medium and cultural artefacts from every corner of the globe that no-one else would ever see. “It had its days, but there was nothing creative or
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tactile about it, and the screen time was becoming mundane.” Possessing a “festering obsession” with design, construction and sustainable living, Maryrose found her happy place in anything and everything that needed to be built, fixed or maintained around the home. “My dad schooled me on the tools from an early age and so it all came so naturally,” she said. “I was going down so many rabbit holes in earth building and sustainable living and carbon reducing construction options, but to be able to leave any kind of green mark on building, the first step was to build a house the traditional way and learn the skills of the trade.” Thanks to this incredible pragmatism and the palpable energy of inspiration, Maryrose threw caution to the wind and got set to roll up her sleeves for what would be a challenging, yet immensely rewarding change of career. “Whichever way I was going to take my future of building and growing interest, I recognised I had to leave behind my ego, halve my salary and go back to school and start from the bottom. “I was inspired, and supported by friends, my partner and my family.
“Not once did I think, ‘I can’t do this because I am female or 29’.” After relentlessly trawling the results pages from the Master Builders Awards, Maryrose highlighted the companies she wanted to work for, basing her choices on those she felt were forward-thinking and passionate. “To my surprise, each offered me a place as an apprentice, which tells me the good ones are the open-minded ones,” she said. “My initial meeting with the director of SQ Projects uplifted me and made me feel 100% like I was moving in the right direction. “He was completely supportive of my interests and behind me all the way; we shared the same goals for my success.” And while Maryrose admits people outside of the industry often comment that her role must be challenging for her, the attitude from those on site has been overwhelmingly supportive from day one, with teamwork at the heart of everything they do, irrespective of gender. “No one was perturbed by a female on site, they were excited, and they could see it was good for business. It’s a point of difference and the clients like it. “All of our subcontractors and trades have treated me with complete respect and I wouldn’t have envisioned it any other way. This is 2021, the guys are smart and thoughtful. “They’re husbands, brothers, and sons; some of them have become my closest and best of friends.
“People (outside of the industry) always comment that my job must be hard physically…I hate that. “This perception may be the reason some girls and women are put off the idea of a trade, but I would say if you are of relative physical fitness, male or female, and don’t mind getting a little dirty, then don’t let that be the reason. “Sitting in a chair and staring at a screen all day is definitely not good for you either!” Now a highly regarded foreman, Maryrose’s desire for success is burning stronger than ever. There are big plans on the horizon for where she’d like to take her career long term however, for now, she’s more than content soaking up the fact that she’s living her dream; a dream she brought to life through sheer grit, determination and bucket loads of self-belief. “I’m catching sunrises every day, working with my Billy dog, my friends, great clients and innovative architects, challenging myself mentally every day, enjoying job security and endless possibilities in a constantly growing and rewarding industry…and those 4pm afternoon swims! Why would I consider anything else at this point?”
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THE GATEKEEPER Introducing Joanne Papageorge, the voice behind the Master Builders Association of NSW for over 44 years AMANDA KELLY
y name is Joanne Papageorge I was born in Sydney in 1947. My parents migrated to Australia and made Sydney their home in the early 1930s. I come from a very strong ethnic background with my father bringing strong Greek Cypriot traditions.
some may say I still am. While it took a few months, I did everything I could to get fired, until eventually it worked. On the outside I appeared sad, but on the inside, I was doing a happy dance.
We had a wonderful upbringing with lots of love, laughter and fun, but our father insisted that we abide by the customs of Australia and ensured that under his roof, we followed his rules.
With no job, my parents decided that I would stay home and learn how to be a good Greek wife and wait for them to pick me a husband. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with me, so I negotiated with my mum that if I could not find a job within one day, I would accept my good Greek wife fate.
I always wanted to be a dress designer, but unfortunately this was not to be as I was not allowed to go to TAFE or college. Instead, my mum organised a job for me at a bakery factory. My brother also worked here which is why my parents wanted me to work there. That way my brother could keep an eye on me. I was very outspoken and opinionated then,
The next day, I had my first real interview with Grace Bros removals as a clerk. Thankfully they hired me straight away. I enjoyed working at Grace Bros and spent the time taking on new roles and learning as much as possible. It was here I learnt to operate a Sylvester switchboard. This was the switchboard that was comprised of long cords. Each cord has
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a grey end and a red end. You answered with the grey end and connected with the red end which sounds simple but was anything but. Unfortunately, the business had to relocate to Parramatta, and in my fathers’ eyes, this was equivalent to moving to another state, so I had to hand in my notice. But I had acquired some office skills and could apply for receptionist/telephonist jobs. My next job was with a toy company as a receptionist. While my switchboard skills were basic they still hired me, saying my personality and my ability to deal with customers would be more important and they would train me. Then, you guessed it, eight years later the business relocated to Penrith. My mother had passed away by now and my dad wasn’t happy about me traveling to Penrith. To him, Penrith wasn’t just another State but another country. I once more had to hand in my notice. Not long after leaving my father passed away. I decided to travel overseas with some relatives for my first holiday. I was away for three months and in this period had an amazing and exciting time. Unfortunately, when the holiday was over, the reality of having to find a job materialised. I went for an interview as a receptionist with the Master Builders Association (MBA) in October 1973. At this stage the MBA Office was in a very small, old building in King Street, Newtown. I knew absolutely nothing about the MBA or the building industry. I was interviewed by a Mrs Phyllis Churchill who went through what the job included. Once she was finished, she asked if I had any questions. I thought
I better ask something. Still trying to live up to my father’s standards and beliefs, my only question was “would I have to join a union?” Mrs Churchill looked at me trying to figure out if I was serious or not. When she realised I was serious, she said “no you do not and you’re hired”. So, my introduction to the building industry commenced and what an education for this naive Greek girl. The Construction Workers Union at the time was called the “Builders Labourers Federation” (BLF) with Jack Mundy in the lead. This is where my real education of the industry began! I heard many colourful words that I had never heard before. I actually looked many of these up or asked other staff what they meant, which was always an interesting conversation. Over time I started recognising the voices of people who rang. I especially loved it when Union representatives rang abusing staff members anonymously. I loved saying thank you Mr so and so, I will pass your regards onto that staff member. Over the years we had a couple of bomb scares where we had to evacuate the office building. But my first major encounter with the union was when they marched on the front steps of the MBA. For our safety, we all had to go lock ourselves into the Executive Meeting Room. The police were called, and they instructed us to stay away from the windows. But of course, we couldn’t resist having a look and what we saw was frightening. The whole street was blocked by tradies and union
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representatives. I had never seen anything like this before. The next time was even scarier though. They stormed our building breaking through the glass front door. The police had to escort us to our cars to ensure our safety. In 1981, our then Executive Director, Ray Rocher secured a new home for the MBA family, and we all moved to Forest Lodge. I even got a new switchboard with buttons, not leads! I don’t like change, so this move was going to be interesting. However, the biggest change was where I was positioned. For the first time I had a proper reception area where I could welcome visitors into the building. Our industry continued to change. While protests continued from time to time at the Forest Lodge premises, the building had security doors that couldn’t be penetrated. We could stand at the windows waving to them all. One time, two staff members, who will remain nameless as they both may still work at the MBA, even went onto the roof and were throwing water balloons at the protesters. The police were not impressed and ordered us to stop as we were causing a riot. In a way, I used to call these the good old days. The MBA family was an amazing family to be part of. In the 90s I was diagnosed with cancer and had to have major surgery. I felt so blessed to have the support of my family and the MBA family around me to support me. It was about this time that I decided I was going to travel and see more of this world. I travelled to countries like USA, Asia, Europe, New
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Zealand and of course this amazing country. Also, about this time, a very close friend of mine passed away which helped me to realise that I wanted to be alone, so I moved down to Gerroa in the South Coast. This made traveling to work at Forest Lodge quite interesting! My day started around 2.30am where I travelled to Kiama to catch the train to Central and then a bus to Forest Lodge. I can honestly say, I never missed a day of work because of my long travels. I would always take the earlier train which meant I got into work an hour early, just to make sure I wasn’t late. For the next 18 years, I travelled from Gerroa to Forest Lodge and back again every day. I made some great friends on the train travels from this time. I didn’t know at this stage, but these friendships would help with what was to follow. In 2009, I received the devastating news that I had breast cancer. This is news no woman ever wants to hear. Again, I had major surgery twice as the specialist was not confident that he had removed all the cancer cells. I considered myself lucky though because I did not need chemotherapy, only radiotherapy. So for the next six weeks, everyday in my lunchtime I travelled to the hospital for treatment with the help of two lovely staff members (that still work at the MBA today). My family wanted me to stay in Sydney while I was going through radiotherapy but I wanted to do it my way, so I only stayed with family on weekends. This meant I continued travelling from Gerroa to Forest Lodge and back again each day. This is where the friendships I had made with my fellow train travellers
came into play. They all ensured I was looked after in my travels. I spent the next few years working, holidaying overseas and travelling a lot between Gerroa and Sydney for family functions and celebrations of which there were many! I was on a couple of committees for the Cyprus Hellene Club even holding an executive position on the all-male board for a short period of time. As mentioned earlier, I am quite a strong-willed person who can be very verbal in my opinions. The all-male board members were having a hard time with my views, so I resigned but stayed on as part of the ladies committee. One thing I am extremely proud of is the Breast Cancer breakfast that I organised to raise money for Breast Cancer research and the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. When we first started organising these breakfasts, we had around 80 ladies attending but attendance soon increased to more than 200 each year. It got to the point we were having to turn people away. In 2012, I decided I should start planning my retirement. I found the thought of retirement frightening. How could I start the next chapter of my life without the MBA? The MBA had been such a big
part of my life for over 44 years. My retirement plan took me five years to put in place! In 2017 at the age of 70, I got the courage to resigned from the MBA. The staff at the MBA were very close in the early years and when anyone left, we would ask, as a joke, “was there life after the MBA?”. Now some four years later I can now say, “Yes there is”. I will always have fond memories of my time at the MBA with all the amazing Executive Directors, Presidents, Councillors, Life members, Members and of course, staff that I have got to know over my 44 years, but can I also say, I am loving retirement!
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WOMEN AT WORK Meet some incredible women powering on in the industry
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“I think we will see more and more women”
“It’s a rewarding industry”
NAME: Kristy Lee COMPANY: JDV Projects 1300 050 102 www.jdvgroup.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Client Engagement Manager Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? My interest in the building industry came from my time on site as a designer working in the interior commercial space environment. I enjoyed being on site and offering value throughout the process. When this opportunity came my way, it was the culmination of skill and the next step in my career. What do you like most about your job? Exercising my existing skill-set and the relationships I have created with clients. Also, working with industry colleges, stakeholders, clients and our own team at JDV all the way to the finished product. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? I moved back to Australia at the end of 2020 and then started in the construction side of the industry. It was a new challenge for me. COVID has seen the reduced ability for face-to-face meetings and client interaction, but we are lucky as a business to have a great technology platform to keep us all in contact. Have you ever experienced gender bias in your career? How did you deal with it? Not really, in my personal experience on site it has always been collaborative, I think we are going to see more and more women in construction going forward.
NAME: Marie Cilia COMPANY: Patterson Built Pty Ltd (02) 8046 1311 www.pattersonbuilt.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Construction Administration Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? The construction industry has plenty of opportunities to explore a variety of career paths. It is a rewarding industry and being able to learn new skills from the industry will be of value to me personally and professionally. What do you like most about your job? My job role is varied and challenging at times. Being able to be a part of the building journey from the very beginning to the completion and seeing the project come to life is a great experience. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? Transitioning to an office manager role to Construction Administration. Building out my current role and its foundations for the company as well as my personal growth and professional development. What do you look forward to in 2022? To be able to see the completion of our current projects and the clients vision come to life as well as being a part of the building journey for future clients. Also, having the foundations, systems and processes for my role built out and streamlined for the company.
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“COVID has forced the industry to adapt” NAME: Georgia Coulston COMPANY: A W Edwards Pty Limited (02) 8036 7200 www.awedwards.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Chief Financial Officer (Executive Director) Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? I think perhaps it chose me. Nearing the completion of my degree in Business and Accounting, I wanted to join a graduate program in commerce as I felt it would be a better fit for me than a Chartered firm. I landed a role as a finance graduate working with a Tier 1 contractor and instantly enjoyed learning from other disciplines. I also enjoyed the feeling that I was part of an industry that plays a huge role in shaping communities and cityscapes, while providing a positive legacy for future generations. What do you like most about your job? The diversity of my role allows me to be involved in many facets of the business and enables me to see beyond the numbers. I am people focused and enjoy working with different stakeholders to drive strategic outcomes. Mentoring and supporting others within the industry to help them achieve success is another rewarding aspect of what I do. Do you have a career highlight? Earlier this year, I became the CFO and an Executive Director at A W Edwards. Stepping into this role in what is anything but an ordinary year, has presented challenges and obstacles to overcome. Faced with continued impacts to the industry as a result of COVID-19, we have finalised our integration with the Bouygues Group, implemented a new financial system, and turned our attention to how we can sustainably adapt the way we work flexibly while staying connected. This year also marks the 100-year anniversary for A W Edwards and in honouring the past, it has generated a lot of excitement for the future. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? Like most people, the continued impacts of COVID-19 have been a significant challenge both personally and professionally this year. In Sydney, the construction pause and subsequent restrictions have and continue to challenge the whole supply chain. Additionally, the restrictions on travel throughout NSW and Australia means many of us have not been able to see our family and friends in a long time — which does have an impact our mental wellbeing. What do you think is the most important trait that you have that allows you to be successful in the industry? Being able to communicate clearly and translate
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the numbers to non-financial personnel. We have a diverse industry full of people with different technical expertise and backgrounds, so it is important to be able to convey your message in a way that they understand rather than necessarily someone in your own discipline would understand. It helps when you are passionate about what you do and enjoy working with others to achieve the best outcome. Have you ever experienced gender bias in your career? How did you deal with it? The construction industry remains male dominated, with female representation at only 18.1%. With these numbers, it would be difficult for me to say that in over 15 years I haven’t experienced unconscious bias in some form. I think these experiences can shape a person but should not define them. It’s important to focus on fostering a better culture that is diverse and inclusive. The industry needs to change and needs to change now. With a strong pipeline of infrastructure and building projects in NSW there will be increasing pressure on finding resources in 2022 and to meet these requirements, we must be an industry that attracts diverse talent from different sectors. We need to provide a broad range of career paths that puts our industry top of mind for students. What do you look forward to in 2022? Higher vaccine rates, open borders and construction resuming in full capacity. COVID has forced the industry to adapt quickly in many aspects and I look forward to these changes being embraced on a more permanent basis, in particular flexibility on sites. On a personal note, I am looking forward to being able to see my family in Brisbane.
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“There is always something new to learn”
“I have always enjoyed building things”
NAME: Fotini Bouranta COMPANY: Stephen Edwards Constructions (02) 9891 3099 www.stephenedwards.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Site Engineer Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? I consider “moderation in all things” a quintessential practice. For me, the construction industry is the perfect amalgamation of technical knowledge, creative aspects and interpersonal skills, which is why I have chosen to pursue a career in it. What do you like most about your job? What I like most about my job is the variety of tasks and responsibilities it entails. There is always something new to learn which makes working a stimulating and rewarding experience. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? This year was definitely characterised by a sense of uncertainty and unease stemming from the changed pace and “norms” in living and working arrangements, especially considering that we are all more or less creatures of habit used to a fastpaced environment. What do you look forward to in 2022? Since I began my career journey amid the pandemic, I am looking forward to things going back to (as possibly) normal so that I can experience the industry at its full capacity. I’m also excited to complete the first project I’ve been involved in from start to finish which I believe is a major milestone.
NAME: Chanelle Wells COMPANY: Mainbrace Constructions 02 9438 1666 www.mainbrace.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Senior Contract Administrator Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? I have always enjoyed building things; from helping my dad with renovations and different projects around the house to my love for design and technology in high school. These experiences inspired me to choose a career in construction as it allows me to explore the different facets of design and building. What do you like most about your job? There is nothing better than seeing your hard work come to life during the project and seeing the finished product gives me an amazing sense of achievement. Every project is different, presenting new challenges and characteristics which keeps things interesting. Do you think that women with certain personality traits are more likely to be involved in this industry? I strongly believe that if you are determined you will thrive in the industry no matter what your gender. Carry out your role with confidence and don’t let anything stop you. What do you look forward to in 2022? Next year I look forward to further developing my career, getting involved in exciting projects and hopefully being able to travel internationally.
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“There are endless opportunities”
“I’m supported as a mum”
NAME: Hanan Mansor COMPANY: Alliance Project Group 02 8746 0122 www.allianceprojectgroup.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Senior Design Manager Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? My late mother’s fascination with high-rise buildings influenced my decision to study architecture. Following school, I completed Bachelor of Arts and Master of Architecture degrees from universities in America. What do you like most about your job? I like that my job has enabled me to experience living in various countries while progressing my career in the building and construction industry. I’m a Malaysian and aside from having worked in Malaysia, my job has allowed me to live and work in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. Do you think that women with certain personality traits are more likely to be involved in this industry? There are endless opportunities to suit any personality traits in this industry. As you grow, the skills you develop are valuable. The most important trait I think, is the ability to remain agile and to take up the positives with every change that occurs. Have you ever experienced gender bias in your career? Personally, I haven’t experienced bias nor felt disadvantaged as a female. One of the reasons I enjoy working at Alliance Project Group is that diversity in gender, culture, religion and language are recognised as assets to the company.
NAME: Tamara Jonson COMPANY: Richard Crookes Constructions (02) 9902 4700 richardcrookes.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Group Head of Workplace Health and Safety Executive Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? When I was growing up, I would assist my dad to run cultural safety programs, often following a workplace fatality. I was confronted with the devastating impact these fatalities had on families, workers and the community at an early age. This had an impact on me, and I was determined that supporting construction workers to go home safely was what I wanted to do with my life. What do you like most about your job? I love the people. The authentic ‘have a go and make it happen’ attitude of our people energises and inspires me every day. Do you have a career highlight? Right now, leading RCC’s transformational safety change program, with the support of an incredible team that is passionate about people. I am really proud to be part of a business which is genuinely committed to care for people, not just in terms of physical safety but mental health and wellbeing and psychological safety. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? Being in a senior operational role, with a newborn and three kids under 5 has made the last year really challenging but also very joyful. At RCC, I am empowered as the Head of Safety but also supported as a mum and I am very thankful for this.
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“I enjoy the strategic aspect of my role” NAME: Aneta Stojanoski COMPANY: Reitsma Constructions (02) 8602 0500 www.reitsmaconstructions.com.au JOB DESCRIPTION: Chief Financial Officer Why did you choose a career in the building and construction Industry? I always had an interest in the building industry and the processes that are involved from start to finish. My main focus was to work in the field of accounting and finance as I wanted to work in operational roles that would add value across different areas within the construction business. What do you like most about your job? Working in the industry for over 20 years, I like the financial and corporate management aspects of my role, along with leading a finance team that is well integrated and supports the business outcomes, and I also enjoy the strategic aspect of my role which requires me to work closely with all areas of the business. What have been the challenges of 2021 for you both personally and professionally? Professionally, the challenge has been to work through the lockdowns and restrictions that have been placed on the construction industry and be able to respond and manage the changes. Personally, the challenge has been to assist and support my children with online learning during the lockdown. What do you think is the most important trait that you have that allows you to be successful in the industry? Having a strong work ethic I believe has been an important trait that has allowed me to take on roles that have been both challenging and rewarding and has contributed in being able to progress my career within the industry. What do you look forward to in 2022? I look forward to being able to visit family and friends post lockdown, booking a family holiday interstate and seeing the construction industry working at full capacity and operating safely as we navigate the new way we work with COVID.
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IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK Restrictions have made things hard but there are services here to help
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n August of this year it was reported by the ABC that the “COVID-19 pandemic had taken a crushing toll on the mental health of tradies”.
The construction industries in New South Wales and Victoria felt the brunt of the widespread lockdowns which began in June and July, further exacerbated by supply delays, employees being stood down, price increases and disruptions to deliveries. And while trying to find any comforting prospects from the challenging period brought about by COVID-19 seems fruitless, Kayte Wilson from MATES in Construction believes the awareness surrounding mental health and organisation’s responsibilities in this area has increased. “With the impacts of the pandemic this year we have really noticed an increase in organisations reaching out and wanting to ensure their staff are trained and informed about the impacts of mental health and how to support one another,” Kayte said. “The biggest difference for us in this year’s lockdown has been the fact that the whole construction industry was locked down not just the individuals in their communities. “This has obviously had a significant impact on people’s livelihoods, relationships and individual’s mental health when they are no longer able to pay their bills, have the structure and routine of going to work and having the outlet of coworkers to discuss issues with each day.” With the greater awareness surrounding mental health only continuing to grow the longer Australia struggles with the impact of the pandemic, Kayte and her team are hopeful that such realisations will lead to genuine change within the structures of the construction industry. “With an increase in organisations and individuals reaching out and asking what support MATES can provide at this point and what support they, as employers, could be providing to their people, it has been really reassuring to see how many employers have stepped up to support the people they employ, as many have reported they feel they are like family.
“One of the positives from this experience has been that there is much greater awareness of mental health and mental health issues and what seems to be a greater acceptance in reaching out and asking for support.” Not unlike other industries, MATES themselves have had to employ new ways of working and reaching out to those who are struggling, while ensuring the services they offer are meeting the current support needs required. “In NSW we rolled out a virtual program called Site Connect which gives a safe and supported space to talk about their experiences of COVID and how people are really feeling. “We provide tools and strategies around how to cope and how the feelings individuals may be experiencing are actually normal in these abnormal times. “The staff ensure all participants take away a resource list of which organisations they can contact, including MATES 24/7 line and the option of a referral to a case manager.” And while there is no denying the incredible work of MATES and similar support services available to the construction industry, for Kayte and her team, the most important support of all needs to come from those closest. “When MATES are delivering training we ask whose responsibility is this? Is it the Governments? “Yes, to a degree, but we also stress that we all have a role in this and we all need to be reaching out and asking if our families, friends and colleagues are going OK. “Remind them that it is OK not to be OK, and that there are many services out there like ours who are ready to support and help in times like these.”
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BLUNDSTONE — A NATURAL FIT FOR HARD WORK
ustralian iconic and fit-for-purpose footwear brand, Blundstone, continues their legacy of combining the latest technology with design flair, with their range of safety boots specifically designed for women in the trades, building and construction industries. Blundstone’s Women’s Safety Series boots bridge the gap between safety and style, providing a sturdy and reliable boot designed for optimum support, protection and comfort for the toughest job sites. Designed and made for women, the #897 is part of the wider Women’s Safety Series. Offering optimum fit and protection, there’s no compromise on comfort with Blundstone’s famous SPS Max Comfort system, featuring XRD® Technology. XRD® Technology provides supreme and repeated impact protection by absorbing up to 90% of energy with every step taken. This feature changes the level of performance, comfort and confidence for the wearer and reduces fatigue and orthopaedic issues. The #897 is built for hard work, with a waterresistant leather upper, heat-resistant rubber sole,
impact-resistant steel toe cap and a moulded TPU bump cap to increase durability. Building on all the features Blundstone consumers know and love, these boots are designed with comfort arch footbeds, built-in steel shank for maximum torsional stability and rubber outsoles specifically designed to increase slip resistance in varied environments. Offering a genuine women’s fit in sizes 5-11 with half sizes for wider options, the Blundstone #897 complies with AS 2210.3:2019 and ASTM F213-18 standards and is backed by Blundstone’s 30-day comfort and six-month manufacturing guarantee. The #897 is available wherever hard work is taken seriously.
To view Blundstone’s full range of safety styles designed and made for women, visit https://www.blundstone.com.au/work-boots/women-s-safety-series
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BECKY PAROZ ENGINEER, PROJECT MANAGER AND AUTHOR
uilding and construction is tough, we all know that. Add a complex social situation like a pandemic, and you have what seems to be long term pandemonium. Everyone is feeling it, no one is loving it. We have never been so reliant on community and yet felt so distant from the feeling that community usually provides. We need to actively find ways to laugh, smile, to feel good, and to search for that silver lining more than ever before. Find the fun, see the light, enjoy the laughter, in between the mayhem that is everyday life currently. It can be found, and it will make a difference. Be that person that lights another up in a world that is currently a bit darker than normal. Seek your tribe! Find that online group, search out for similar people in your circumstance that collectively and actively participate in social media. Put the social back into social media, and look for the tradie groups, the mining cohorts, and the women who support women in these industries and say hi to the community. I have been unable to work since this began, and have a few more months before my immune system might be protected enough to be out in public regularly. Lots of us are in forced lockdown and can’t do the activities we would normally with friends, family, and those with similar interests. It might not be quite the same as in person, but some of the industry specific groups I am a part of, have been a lifeline of community, fun, laughter, and shared issues, which reminds me I am not alone. I have online friends who collect all the memes and share them every day as their contribution to the smiling and laughter that might be missing from our usual interactions. Their giving is truly loved by their audience, because we do need to remember to laugh, despite what is going on in our world. If for no other reason than it is good for our mental health.
FINDING THE FUN I worked on a particularly tough project (more than once). This one was very high pressure, with government oversight daily, so I started wearing the weirdest and wackiest socks I could find, stripes, crazy creatures, rude sayings, nothing was off-limits. I got my team engaged in the idea and every day I would have someone come up to me saying they were told to come and as about my socks! It would either give them a laugh, or at least a head shake, and that five-second distraction was often enough to reset for the next set of concerns that the day would throw our way. It became so popular that there were bets on what socks would be worn for key milestone days, or what mood I was in based on what socks I wore. A really simple, and very silly, action, but the impact was remarkable and effective. What can you do to create a sense of fun, adventure, and laughter at your workplace, your worksite, and with your team? Nominate crazy work shirt day, if you can get away with not wearing PPE for that day, or even just for the hour you might have everyone in the office for a toolbox. Allowing people a bit of colourful expression can make all the difference in the outlook for the day. What about boots? So many different colours and styles that are still compliant can be found these days, why not have a day that is for the most colourful and still compliant PPE? Whatever you choose, make sure it is inclusive for your team and be the leader in your space for finding the fun. ...................................................................... Becky Paroz has 30 years of experience in construction and building, most of them in leadership roles. She studied engineering before women were encourage to join the industry, and now mentors leaders, business owners, and new-to-the-industry women across Australia on how to develop their own leadership style. She is the winner of many awards, has been published in best-selling books, writes regularly for several magazines, and a much requested public presenter to a variety of forums.
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SHATTERING GLASS CEILINGS Canberra’s Strathnairn Charity House build is breaking down barriers writes Bea Smith
cross the world, cracks are forming in glass ceilings. By November 2020, women held 32.1% of seats across Australia’s top 200 boards and female politicians now hold the majority in the Senate for the first time ever. In the Australian construction industry, however, it’s a different story. While statistics show promising growth with the overall number of women in construction roles increasing by 34% in five years — from 44,583 in 2015 to 59,587 in 2020 — this is a small drop in the ocean when
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it comes to Australia’s 1.2 million-strong construction workforce. But an ambitious local initiative is working to change these statistics and showcase Canberra’s female talent in the sector. The Strathnairn Charity House may currently be a concrete slab with one of the best views in Canberra, but it represents something far bigger — the collaboration of dozens of women across myriad roles — from architecture and interior
design, to electricians, builders, carpenters, painters and landscapers — to prove that a woman’s place is on site. A joint venture between Ginninderry and Master Builders ACT, The Strathnairn Charity House is being conceptualised, designed and built with high-quality donated and low-cost services and labour. Once completed, the house will go to auction, with the proceeds split between three worthy organisations within West Belconnen — Pegasus Riding for the Disabled, Karinya House, and Canberra City Care Charnwood — with funds distributed through Hands Across Canberra. With four bedrooms, three bathrooms and a sleek modern design, the Strathnairn Charity House is expected to fetch upwards of a million dollars at auction — but it won’t just raise much-needed funds. It will also break down barriers within the construction industry, as the team behind its design, construction and oversight will be comprised solely of women.
Construction on the Charity House is being spearheaded by KANE Constructions ACT’s General Manager Jo Farrell, whose track record for empowering women in trade roles speaks for itself. Jo is also the founder of not-for-profit organisation Build Like A Girl, which champions women in trade and encourages young women to consider a trade as a career option. Naturally, Jo was excited by the prospect of a house built entirely by women.
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“The ACT Women’s Action Plan sets a target of achieving increased participation by women in the construction sector…so this project is a great opportunity to shine a light on the impact that women can have in our industry,” she says. “From a design and construction point of view, the project will be led by a female architect and builder but, more importantly, every trade we use will have a female apprentice, and participants on the Master Builders ACT & Ginninderry’s successful SPARK Women in Trades program will also use the project as a live training site.” For Jo, it’s all about visibility as the house comes together on-site — because you cannot be what you cannot see. “We’re starting to really recognise how many women are playing a part in [the house’s] construction…it’s about recognition and making them visible. That’s the most important part of this story,” she says. “There’s got to be women there showing that it can be done to then allow younger women to say, ‘Well if she can do it, I can too’.” Architect Cassandra Keller shares Jo’s enthusiasm. Her firm CK Architecture is heavily involved in programs which she says, “enable young women to explore careers in construction they may not have thought about,” so being part of the Strathnairn Charity House team was a natural choice.
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“It’s a great example of showing young women — and the broader community — what other women can do in the construction industry,” says Cassandra. “It makes it real for girls.” Cassandra says the Strathnairn Charity House is as much about inspiring the next generation as it is about celebrating the women in Canberra’s construction industry. “I feel very lucky to be a part of it because I can see what a difference it makes for young women. When I was that age, I would have loved to have seen more of that happening.” One such young woman is 25-year-old Siobhan Nelson. Now a first-year electrical apprentice with Control & Electric, Siobhan came across Ginninderry’s pioneering SPARK Construction Program at a jobs fair and quickly realised it was the perfect route to a career that suited her better than she ever expected. Because of SPARK’s involvement with the Strathnairn Charity House, Siobhan has been able to
put her mark on the house in not one, but two, ways — helping create the formwork and connecting the site to the grid — and says the atmosphere on-site is electric (no pun intended). “You could see the inspiration on everyone’s faces and how excited they were to be doing something that was going to give back to women and the community,” says Siobhan. “Everyone had a big smile on their face. The best word would be ‘empowered’.” However, Jo is also quick to add that women don’t need to be young or at the start of their careers to take up a trade. “Don’t listen to the negativity,” she says. “Reach out to us or someone else in the industry and get the right information. Construction is genderless — it’s not about who you are, it’s the attitude you bring to the table that will dictate your success in this industry.” For Siobhan, the Strathnairn Charity House is just the beginning. “I’m finishing my apprenticeship and once I’m fully qualified, I’d like to stay in the industry and teach,” she says. “My long-term goal is to help encourage more women to be involved in a trade.”
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VERITY HARE WWW.TRADIEWIVES.COM.AU
NAVIGATING CHANGE Support is so important in times like these
t feels frustrating to be back here. Back in lockdown, back in uncertainty, back to hearing the daily cases rising. It feels like we are right back to where we started over 18 months ago. In the last few months we have seen some of the tightest restrictions to date. We feel like we are finally up to speed with the restrictions only for them to completely changed the next day. We spend hours researching and applying for the grants we might be eligible for only to find the dates
change without warning and we have to start all over again. We don’t know if we can work, how many people we can have on site, what areas we can work in, our heads are constantly spinning and no one seems to have a definitive answer. We have to stand down employees while trying to support them the best way we can with the information we are given. We are trying to do the right thing, safeguard our businesses and survive with the lag between restrictions and financial support. COVID fatigue has well and truly set in. We miss our families, our friends, our freedom and we are sick to death of home schooling. Where does it end? Where is the light at the end of the tunnel? It feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders but now is the time to connect. Our families, friends, clients and colleagues are all riding this wave with us. Navigating these changing times is so tough, but we are all in the same boat. No one is feeling like they have it all together, so give yourself a break and take things day by day. One day, life will resume, the world will open up again and we will appreciate it more than we ever have.
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LEGAL MATTERS HANNAH SHEPHERD
Price rises The industry is experiencing significant price increases in relation to a range of materials including (but not limited to) timber and steel.
Where builders have signed a fixed price contract some time ago (or even in the last six months, the price increases are having a severe impact on cash flow and profit margins.
SENIOR SOLICITOR MB NSW
The effects of COVID-19 have been far reaching. Two significant issues in the construction industry that we are currently seeing are: • Delays caused by trade and material shortages; and • Considerable price rises in relation to materials. Delays Check the contract. If it contains a clause that says that the builder is entitled to an extension of time if there is a delay “beyond the reasonable control of the builder”, or similar, then claiming additional time will be straightforward. It is notoriously difficult to prove delays at a much later stage, so make the extension of time either: • As soon as the delay starts (and update it once it ends); or • Just after the delay ends. A short email with the extension of claim is usually sufficient, depending on what the contract requires. The contract is unlikely to also allow for delay costs relating to this type of delay however, so consider whether delay costs can be claimed through another avenue such as for a delay caused by the conduct of the owner or an architect’s instruction. This is obviously tricky for delays such as an industry shutdown, but it may be relevant to other stages of the project, such as an owner’s or architect’s instruction to suspend works until after the COVID-19 lockdown because the owner is still living in the property.
Fixed price contracts are just that, an agreement to carry out a set scope of works for a fixed price. So where the project is running on time and the scope of works hasn’t changed, the fixed price must stay the same. However, if a builder has experienced delays on the project caused by the owner, then the builder (depending on the terms of the contract) should be able to make a claim for delay and delay costs as a result of the owner’s delay. Delay costs in these circumstances will be the increase in the price of materials: • From the date the materials would have been ordered if the owner had not delayed the project; • Until the date the materials are actually ordered after the delay ends. This type of claim requires some evidence of past and present material costs. Another way a builder is able to claim for extra costs resulting from materials price increases is if the scope of works changes due to a change in the type of material. Some contracts say that if any material specified for the project cannot be obtained or can only be obtained with an unreasonable period of delay: • The builder will seek instructions concerning substitutes to be used; and • Any price difference will be deemed to be a variation. An owner may find it more palatable to pay a bit extra for a different type of material if this will ensure that the project will keep ticking along rather than experience extensive delays. Of course, this will unfortunately not always be possible but if it’s an option it will assist the builder to recover some of the extra cost.
Most contracts contain a provision allowing for a variation claim to be made where there is a change in a legislative requirement or relevant legislation. However, the clauses usually say that the change in legislation must require a “change in the works”. This is slightly ambiguous but is likely to mean a change in the scope of the works. If a delay caused by a COVID-19 government health order consequently causes a change in the works, the builder would be able to make a claim under this clause.
Contracts aside, there is nothing to stop the builder from negotiating with the owner in good faith and reaching an agreement to increase the contract price.
The ability to claim in each situation will, as usual, depend on the exact circumstances.
Specific legal advice should be sought for individual circumstances.
What we are experiencing at the moment is unlike anything most of us have seen during our lifetime and, regardless of legalities, it is not unreasonable for a builder to approach the owner to explain the serious impact of COVID-19 on the project costing and to see if they are willing share some of the burden. Hannah Shephard is a solicitor at MBA Lawyers, (02) 8586 3517.
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FLORENCE CONSTRUCTING A NEW PERSPECTIVE
WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION LUNCHEON with special guest Sam Bloom.
Royal Randwick November 19, 2021 12:00PM $155 In 2013, while holidaying in Thailand with her husband and three young sons, Sam unknowingly leant on a rotten balcony railing, plunging six metres onto concrete. The near-fatal accident shattered her spine, ruptured her lungs and caused severe bleeding on the brain. Not only was Sam physically broken and facing the daunting reality of never walking again, but her soul and spirit were crushed. A serendipitous encounter with a frail and injured magpie chick her sons dubbed Penguin, was to transform her attitude, change the course of her recovery, and save her family. Sam and Penguin’s remarkable bond and extraordinary story of parallel recovery was
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sensitively captured through the lens by Sam’s husband, acclaimed photographer Cameron Bloom. The images formed the basis for the international bestselling book Penguin Bloom. Such is the sheer beauty and power of their story, it inspired a major film of the same name, starring Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln. The movie, released in January 2021, became an immediate hit, claiming number 1 at the Australian box office and trending on Netflix in North America. Sam’s is a story for the times, with profound messages for us all — of the power of love and family, and of our innate ability to find determination and courage in the face of adversity.
GET YOUR TICKETS NOW For all enquiries, contact Amanda Kelly (02) 8586 3504 firstname.lastname@example.org
RAQUEL MANNING DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH
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Start a conversation with this colourful workwear
radeMutt is a social impact workwear brand, by tradies for tradies. We make funky eye catching workwear designed to start conversations about mental health among the blue collar community, helping make an invisible issue impossible to ignore. Through the sale of Trademutt Workwear we help fund free and unlimited professional mental health support for tradies, truckies and blue collar workers through our own support service tiacs.org
Open Road Cap $35 Women’s Ventura Orange Polo Shirt $45
Flounder Hickey Dickey $20
Women’s MFG Workshirt $65
Women’s Bonfire Orange Day/Night Hi Vis Workshirt $69
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LATEST TECH Working more efficiently often comes down to how flexible your workspace is — the ability to adapt quickly to changing requirements. Here’s a taste of the latest in ‘pick up and go’.
Makita 12V Vacuum Cleaner Skin CL121DZ The 12V Max CXT range gives you our leading compact solution with maximum comfort and capacity. Select 12V Max CXT tools are equipped with efficient brushless motors for even longer runtime, increased power and speed with longer tool life
Stanley 90L Chest Tool Box FMST1-73601 525MM L x 750MM W x 450mm H Price: $149
Makita 18V 600mm Brushless Hedge Trimmer Skin DUH602Z
The DUH602Z features Makita’s famous Outer Rotor Brushless Motor powered by one 18V Li-ion battery. With a 600mm bar featuring a double reciprocating blade design, the added benefit of a rotating rear handle with five lock positions and a three-stage speed selection the user has full control to power through any job. Price: $399
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Milwaukee 18V Fuel 210mm Table Saw with one-key Skin M18FTS2100 The Milwaukee M18 FUEL 210mm Table Saw with One-Key, M18FTS210-0, generates corded power, 622mm of Rip Capacity and Up to 180 linear metres of cutting per charge. Designed for the professional carpenter, remodeler and general contractor, the Milwaukee M18 FUEL 210mm Table Saw with One-Key is optimised for power, portability and productivity. Price: $909
Dewalt 54V Brushless XR Flexvolt 2 X 6.0AH 216mm Sliding Compound Mitre Saw Kit DCS777T2-XE XR FLEXVOLT is a range of 54V power tools that offer runtime and performance that has never been seen before. This innovation means that you can have 54V power across a whole range of tools without the inconvenience of a cable. Price: $1199
APPS & SOFTWARE Smiling Mind
Smiling Mind is a free mindfulness meditation app developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life. Just as we eat well and stay fit to keep our body healthy, mindfulness meditation is about mental health and looking after the mind. The programs are designed to assist people in dealing with the pressure, stress, and challenges of daily life. Smiling Mind has dedicated sleep programs for Adults, Kids & Teens.
Canva makes design amazing and simple! Create stunning designs with your photos and videos, even if you’re not a design expert. Whether you need an Instagram story, logo, or birthday invitation, create all these and more on Canva.
Buffer: Social Media Tools Build your audience and grow your brand on social media. Plan, collaborate, and publish thumb-stopping content that drives meaningful engagement and growth for your brand.
Invoice 2go Invoices2go is the on-the-go invoicing tool for all types of small businesses, freelancers, and contractors.
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DEC 8 WIDAC CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION – NETWORKING EVENT WHEN: Wednesday 8 December 2021 WHERE: Sydney (Further Details TBC) Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC) offer real, relatable and engaging events, workshops and programs. In December they are hosting these festive key networking events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, with details to be announced closer to the event. Connect with a community of amazing women to empower each other, create pathways to leadership and evolve as a collective.
NOV 18 BUSINESS CLUB BOOTCAMP: LOOKING AFTER YOU WHEN: Thursday 18 November 2021 WHERE: Your desk Stress and overwhelm are often the root cause for many health challenges. Whether you suffer from anxious feelings, low moods, lousy energy, poor quality sleep, niggling health complaints, or that relentless feeling that there must be a better way to live your life, you know in your heart when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Yet, as much as you try to slow down or reduce your burden, it can seem impossible to stop the stress from piling on. It doesn’t need to be this way. Come and join nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver (PhD) as she shares a whole new perspective on stress and overwhelm. She’ll teach you the signs and symptoms the body can give you when you’re stressed, while helping you to understand what’s truly driving these. 54 || FLORENCE
BUSINESS CHICKS PRESENTS: EMMA ISAACS IN SYDNEY WHEN: Tuesday 15 February 2022 12pm - 2:30pm WHERE: THE STAR, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont NSW Emma Isaacs bought her first business aged 18, became a property investor at 19, and took over Business Chicks aged 26, transforming it into the 500,000-strong global community it is today. She’s also the best-selling author of Winging It and mum to six children. Sounds like an extraordinary journey, right? Well, it didn’t come without sacrifice, grit … and a whole lot of hustle. But despite being an all-in, 24-hour hustler in the past, today, Em wants to redefine the way we get it done. Hustling in the traditional sense is no longer working for us as a burnt-out, bleary-eyed nation. Moreover, the pandemic has thrust us into a new working world. It’s about viewing work in a new light so we can still be wildly successful without working longer hours and sacrificing what matters most: our health, our loved ones and our sanity. Em’s second book, The New Hustle, is out now (you can order it here), and this is your chance to see her on the Business Chicks stage and learn how to work smarter, feel lighter and still kick goals. Don’t miss it!
MAR 11 INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION EVENT “CAN WOMEN REALLY HAVE IT ALL?” DEBATE
Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC) offer real, relatable and engaging events, workshops and programs. To celebrate International Women’s Day, WIDAC is hosting a special breakfast event, with details to be announced closer to the date.
WHEN: Friday 11 March 2022 Sydney WHERE: Sydney (Further Details TBC)
Connect with a community of amazing women to empower each other, create pathways to leadership and evolve as a collective.
(Premium) Breakfast Event
SYDNEY BUILD EXPO WHEN: June 1st-2nd 2022 WHERE: Sydney ICC Now in its 6th year, Sydney Build has become the best-attended Construction Event in the whole of Australia. This is the only event of its kind to offer 300+ accredited presentations, 500+ exhibitors and incredible networking opportunities for all of Sydney’s construction professionals. Free to Attend - Includes access to all presentations, workshops, networking events and exhibition.
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WOMEN SHINE AT AWARDS Women’s contribution to the West Australian building and construction industry was celebrated at the recent Master Builders-Bankwest Excellence in Construction Awards, with three exceptional people winning awards for their contributions.
rudence McLoughlin of Land Surveys won the Consultants-Professionals Award; Alicia Gangemi of Affordable Living Homes took out the Office-Based Award, and the Onsite-Award was presented to Astrid Vasile, Proprietor of Vasile Build. Master Builders launched the inaugural Women Building Australia Awards in 2020, with the key focus of the program to promote opportunities for women and employers in the building and construction industry. Women currently make up 11% of the construction industry’s workforce and one per cent of building trades (national figures). Master Builders is working towards capitalising on the skills and talent of women in the industry, attracting the best workers and opening up new skills, ideas and innovations. Prudence McLoughlin is a surveyor who works for national company Land Surveys. She gained her qualification from Curtin University, and while studying, worked as a surveyor’s assistant until gaining her bachelor’s degree. After working as a surveyor for 18 months, she took a position at Land Surveys as a surveyor working on largescale jobs such as railway projects and high-rise construction. She has gained experience working with drones and laser scanners. Prudence also worked on the construction of the Art Gallery of WA Rooftop, an extension to the science building at Penrhos College, and the Metronet rail project. She participated in workshops for high school students while studying at Curtin University, showing students the different aspects of surveying and promoting surveying as a potential career choice. “As the course [Surveying] is fairly male dominated, my presence at these workshops for high school students showed that both boys and girls are able to follow this path,” she said. “I hope that when I obtain my license I am able to inspire other women to join surveying.”
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General Manager at Affordable Living Homes Alicia Gangemi was awarded for her long-standing dedication to the building and construction industry, along with her philanthropic work. Alicia started in the building industry as a trainee scheduler in 1994 while studying her Diploma of Building and Construction. In 2005, Alicia co-founded Affordable Living Homes and 16 years later she continues to oversee all general business from estimating to scheduling and jobs in construction. Today, Alicia still holds the position of General Manager at the Delstrat Group for Affordable Living Homes, Ideal Homes and Broadway Homes where she is responsible for procurement, administration and construction. Alicia and her family have started a philanthropic fund called the Blue Ripple Foundation, which provides back packs and meals for the homeless and recently purchased a trishaw from Denmark in support of the Cycling without Age movement. “During my 25 years in the industry, I have had the opportunity to work alongside many talented individuals,” Alicia said. “I have learnt from other professionals in their areas of expertise and together we have been able to provide housing solutions for families and give back to our community.” Astrid Vasile is the Managing Partner of GV Constructions (WA) and Vasile Build. With a career spanning more than 23 years in the industry, and an MBA to boot, Astrid has been involved in the delivery of more than $60 million dollars’ worth of construction projects in WA. She has previously been awarded WA Business Partner of the Year and in 2009, became the 12th female Registered Builder in Australia. Astrid mentors employees in the building industry and graduate students. Outside the building Industry, Astrid is involved in supporting the Australian-Indonesian Businesswomen’s Network, and has been an active member of Master Builders
Australia Women in Building & Construction Committee, committed to encouraging other women in the industry and support their businesses.
a major cultural change in the sector, with women taking up training opportunities and considering construction as their vocation,” he said.
“My role as the Principal Building Practitioner and Building Inspector demands the highest standard of work and quality and I am very passionate about issues surrounding the building and construction industry,” Astrid said.
“Encouraging more women into the industry and acknowledging the advantage a more gender-equal workplace has to offer is something we consider a priority.
“Construction is still very male dominated, but it’s a great career for women. “Every day is different, it is financially rewarding and there are many opportunities in the profession for women.” Master Builders WA Executive Director John Gelavis said the rising prominence and work-place excellence of women in the building and construction industry was a testament to the industry embracing change. “There was a time when the building industry was seen as male-dominated, but there has been such
“Master Builders’ Women Building Australia Awards recognise people who have made a positive contribution to the industry through leadership, support of diversity and inclusion. “These winners have shown commitment to high standards of excellence and lead by example to continuous learning and healthy workplace practices. “The winners are great role models for other women looking to enter the industry.”
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Mikhala Beaumont Landscaping apprentice and apprentice horticulturist
Gemma Forsythe Adelaide’s first female asphalt layer
Gloria Docherty Project manager: I want to inspire women to consider a career in construction and show them how to use property investment to achieve financial success.
Aimee Kate Stanton Plumber turned tiny house builder Lilydale, Victoria
Jess Malouf Plumber and home decor designer: Just a plumber, making stuff.
Hey Sista Plumbing Female plumbers specialising in maintenance, renovations and new builds.
Gold Coast, Queensland
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Are you a female led business? Women Building Australia is building a register of businesses in the building and construction industry led by women to assist the public, in particular vulnerable women, who prefer using female builders, designers and tradies.
REGISTER NOW womenbuildingaustralia.com.au/ support-female-businesses