- Favourite school subjects
- First full-time job
- What sparked your interest in a construction career?
After high school, I took a gap year, travelled overseas, returned, and then studied a Bachelor of Construction Project Management at University of Technology Sydney UTS.
I loved drama and mathematics, and I enjoyed business studies. Outside of school, I was a very focused ballet dancer, which took up a lot of my time.
I was a cadet. After high school, I took a gap year and moved abroad, where I lived in the UK and travelled around Europe. When I came back I started a degree in construction project management, which for many people I knew was probably something that took them by surprise.
My family, particularly my father, said, “Well, Jade, you should better understand the industry you're studying because construction project management is quite a focused degree”.
I got a full-time job as a cadet with a construction company called Laing O'Rourke. As part of the cadetship, I studied part-time for five years to get my degree because I worked full-time.
I was learning the theory and seeing everything firsthand at work. It was intense, and there was a lot of time management needed but these are all valuable skills you need to learn for your professional career.
I have a lot of people in my family, including my dad, who have been a part of the construction industry – engineers, construction managers, developers, and interior designers. As a child, we'd go to construction family days with the company my dad worked for. I had a lot of exposure to the construction industry right from the start.
"People aren't mindreaders, so speak up! Be clear on what you need now, which project you want to work on next, or the pathway you wish to take. Because when people in your organisation know what you want, gosh, it makes those discussions easier." - Jade on progressing your career in construction.
Can you tell us about your current job?
I'm a Project Manager with Multiplex Constructions.
I've come up through different site-based roles, from Site Engineer to Project Engineer to Design Manager, and now a Project Manager, which means it’s my job to run the job. For example, I'm working on a School Infrastructure NSW project delivering a school, and I have a team that reports to me. I am responsible for all things including time, cost, safety, and quality, design, procurement on the delivery side of things and managing our client. It's a busy but rewarding role!
Every day is very busy. We have an office on-site, and it’s my base. There are lots of meetings, phone calls, and time working with my team.
As the Project Manager, I need to understand my team's current issues, so I can help them resolve them or be the point of escalation.
With the Site Manager, I’m always looking ahead to ensure we’re not going to get blindsided. So that’s thinking three to six months forward of where everyone's at to make sure things like the design and procurement are in place to ensure continuity of work on site.
Every day I’m holding our subcontractors accountable for what they should be doing and delivering on.
A substantial ongoing task is managing our client, Schools Infrastructure NSW, and their project management firm to ensure that we at Multiplex are doing everything we said we would.
The diversity of people we work with is tremendous – in your team, with your clients, alongside the subcontractors. We have different skill sets and can look at things differently, which is a strength.
Delivering a finished job is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. It’s one thing to win a job with its challenges. But to build and deliver a job, to get it across the finish line and handed over, is a very satisfying feeling.
The thing I love most about the industry is that after delivering a project, our next one will likely be in a different sector, such as a commercial building, a hospital for health, or a school for education.
We get in, we manage design processes, and then we deliver these buildings that have an impact on the way people interact with the built environment.
We build tangible things. When you finish a job, you can touch it, feel it, and see it. You know you’ve had a role in something awesome when you drive by it.
In my job right now, things are going well.
There are challenges that our industry is facing, which we deal with every day. For example, look at how much rain we've had in Sydney this year. We're figuring out how to make up for the lost time and of course there are reasons we might need to push out an end date due to inclement weather, but we want to work to that original finish date whenever possible. We think dynamically and pivot to keep pushing the job ahead.
Strong and adaptive communication skills are vital. You need to persuade and be an effective listener who learns and responds. In construction, there are many ways to do something or to achieve a goal. So, you need to get people on board with your thinking or approach.
Lots of planning goes into the way we do what we do. You need to be agile and be able to pivot because things don’t always go to plan. You also need to be able to work with what you’ve got then and there!
Agility is another skill as the construction industry is very dynamic. Lots of planning goes into the way that we do what we do. So, you need to be able to be agile, and you need to be able to pivot because things don't always go to plan. And you need to be able to work with what you've got then and there.
"Be a sponge – introduce yourself, listen and learn. Be open to doing new things. There's no such thing as “No”. When you're in the first few days, you go, “Yep, I'll do that”. If you don’t understand something, grab someone who does and ask." - Jade on excelling in the construction industry.
What’s changed, changing, or coming soon to make construction an industry-of-choice?
Having a diverse team helps create a better end product. Unfortunately, we’re under-represented in female participation, but that’s changing and for the betterment of the entire industry.
The industry has made some progress with its working-from-home and flexible work practices. Depending on your role, you need to be on-site, but not always.
As far as technology uptake goes, it's a bit of a slow burn at the moment, but it’s changing for the better.
Big things are happening in sustainability and greener buildings – everyone’s mission is for net zero carbon emissions.
I have mentors and champions within the business and outside of it. They are hybrids. A mentor for me is very much a sounding board and a probe – someone I trust who questions and steers me. The champion side of what they do is advocacy. That's them championing who I am and what I bring, advocating on my behalf, and being the voice for me to leaders in my organisation.
Be authentic, value what you bring, and 100% back yourself. People aren't mindreaders, so speak up! Be clear on what you need now, which project you want to work on next, or the pathway you wish to take. Because when people in your organisation know what you want, gosh, it makes those discussions easier.
If you're a high school student trying to figure out what degree or course to do, go to the university and training provider open days. There's always a level of training that you need, be it a degree or an apprenticeship and a certificate. Universities, for example, hold industry days where you can speak with businesses that work in the vast construction industry.
Go and talk to the whole lot to learn about their part in the industry and the opportunities available. Also, look out for one of our Jump Start Program events – they’re for high school-aged girls to give them general advice about the industry and the different pathways available. All these engagement activities are there because it can be challenging to know where to start if you don't have someone who either works in the industry or knows someone who is.
What are 3 things good construction employers do?
Good construction employers:
- Have strong business cultures. It’s the glue that keeps employees wanting to stay within the business.
- Provide opportunities for development, movement, and progression – growth over stagnation.
- Take into account people’s situations and the need for flexible work conditions. It’s a big thing these days.
What’s next careerwise? And, in the longer term?
I love this role as Project Manager, but I aspire to go into a more senior leadership role within the business.
It's a dynamic industry with amazing challenges and great opportunities. There’s a lot of teamwork. We come together to collaborate for a purpose. When we’ve achieved what we set out to do, there's a lovely building or piece of infrastructure or whatever it may be that you've been a part of, that you've delivered, it's tangible, and you feel very satisfied. It is just so incredibly rewarding to work in the construction industry.
Every job you do is a personal and professional-defining project. I enjoy going from the beginning to the end – cradle to grave. I like working on the bid, converting it and then taking it through and delivering it. It involves different skill sets and challenges, and I find it rewarding.
Sian is studying a Bachelor of Construction Management and Property at UNSW Sydney and working as a cadet at the North Sydney Public School redevelopment. We asked Sian questions about her pathway into construction and experiences starting out in the industry.
Loshika works as a Construction Manager at Transport for NSW. She started her career in the construction industry by studying Mechanical Engineering and Science. We asked Loshika questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.
Christina works as a designer manager at the Mosman High School redevelopment. She started her career in the construction industry by studying civil engineering with honours at UNSW Sydney. We asked Christina questions about her pathway into the construction industry and experiences working on site.