International women’s day, held on the 8th of March every year, is an opportunity for us to champion and celebrate the efforts and positive impact of women in all areas of society – including our family members, colleagues, leaders, and influences.
For international women’s day this year, we sat down with our very talented project Managers – Vivian and Leanne – to discuss their journey in the construction industry, and how we can champion equality from within. They are currently very busy delivering the future offices of Australia, so we’ve kept it brief, but their insight is incredibly valuable for those looking to pursue project management roles in the construction industry.
Leanne & Vivian – Sheldon’s Project Managers
So, how did you get into construction project management?
Viv: Following my business management education, I pursued a project management opportunity in the construction industry as it suited my enthusiasm for coordination and joining the dots. I have always been fascinated in buildings and the processes that create them, both inside and out. I have managed a range of projects, from 600 bed student housing to Sheldon’s offices.
Leanne: Following completing my business studies degree in the UK, I took an opportunity to work on a commercial project with a construction company. From then I moved into contracts administration, and received a Master’s in quantity surveying, before becoming a workplace project manager which I have been for the past five years.
What is your favorite project that you have managed in your career so far?
Viv: My favorite projects are the ones where we can be involved throughout the entire construction journey, from inception to completion. In the cases where we get to oversee concepts, design, and construction, we can understand the clients vision clearly, and execute it in a way that links stakeholders efficiently.
Leanne: Before working for Sheldon, I managed a refurbishment for charter hall, which looking back at I am very proud of. The job was a combination of spec suites, make good, lobby upgrades, and mechanical upgrades. Since joining Sheldon my favorite projects have been those in which we have created a workspace for a specific end user. In particular, I enjoyed the work completed for crayon at 100 Arthur St, as well as the laboratories we created for Weir minerals.
What are the key factors that make for a successful design & construction project from a project managers point of view?
Viv: Having open and transparent communication with the client from day one is very important. Within that, listening and understanding the client’s needs and vision for the space ensures that we can deliver ‘On time, On budget, and to a high level of quality.’ (her catchphrase)
Leanne: A strong team dynamic is paramount. Having the right people on the job, from designers to site managers to subcontractors is very important when carrying out a project at the scale we do. Communication with the client needs to be clear in order to understand what they want, and that they understand the process and program clearly.
Do you have any advice for women (and people in general) looking to get into construction project management
Viv: Confidence is key. Be brave. Trust in yourself that you can deliver. Where you can, stay three steps ahead of the task. Never be afraid to ask questions – they are essential to learning. Always be learning.
Leanne: Women can be put off and dissuaded from joining the construction industry due to its male dominance. However, the duties and skills involved in construction project management are suited to everyone, and women can certainly thrive in the space. Understand what the role entails, don’t just look past it. You might be a better candidate than you think.
Beyond this, the industry needs to promote equality in its teams and opportunities. In particular, career progression needs to be more equal in the way that it is offered. The industry needs to do more to ensure that opportunities exist for women at all levels and areas of the construction industry, and hard work is rewarded appropriately.
Special thanks to Vivian and Leanne for taking the time to provide such great insight. Sheldon is extremely proud of the women driving its projects across every sector, from design to project coordination, and strives to continually promote the importance and value of diverse teams in the construction industry.
With women making up only 12% of the Construction industry’s workforce, we am pleased to report that Sheldon has almost double this number with 23% of our workforce being women.
So on this International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the achievements of women, and recommit ourselves to the work that still needs to be done. Watch this space.
For more information about how you can support equality in the construction industry, we’d recommend checking out NAWIC (National Association for Women In Construction), which Sheldon is a member of.