Building Excellence Awards and Outstanding Woman in Construction

with Melisha Willington

The Master Builders SA Building Excellence Awards showcase and award excellence in South Australia’s building and construction industry. This year saw the introduction of a new award category – the HiViZ Outstanding Woman in Construction Award.

As a workplace committed to supporting gender equality, Sarah are incredibly proud, that our very own Project Manager, Melisha Willington was the recipient of this prestigious award.

HiViZ is a Master Builders SA program to inspire industry change by promoting equality at entry level, discovering and highlighting issues, empowering women to see new career pathways and facilitating the development of coordinated solutions.

Melisha shares her thoughts on what it means to be recognised as an industry leader through receiving this award.

What does winning the “Outstanding Women In Construction” award mean to you?

It is fantastic to be recognised by the industry you work in. Getting to this point has definitely included some hard yards and challenges, so this makes a lot of that worthwhile. It’s something tangible to say that I’m performing in my chosen profession. I also reflect and thank every team I have worked with, as they need to be part of this recognition also. Success is not achieved alone. As this was the inaugural Hi-Viz Woman In Construction Award, it was exciting to be the first recipient and know that there is now another industry program promoting equality, change and empowering people.

Why is it important to include recognition for women at the Building Excellence Awards?

The construction industry is seen as the last frontier for women with the percentage of women sitting around 12% or so, compared to men. Research also shows that women are 40% more likely to leave the construction industry than their male counterparts, so retention is a big issue. Factors contributing to this are; excessive working hours and constant deadlines compared to other industries, with little flexibility to manage these challenges in the workplace. Women are still culturally seen as the primary care givers, so when starting a family, managing a career in construction as well as their duties as a parent can seem impossible.

At the moment it’s not quite a level playing field for women, so it is important for women to see other women recognised in the construction industry and to also see them in leadership roles. Recognition can be achieved through targeted awards such as the MBA and other industry associations. Hopefully this will show that women are valued and their challenges within the industry recognised; as well as provide some inspiration, to keep persisting, when things get tough.

I believe, that normalising women in construction is the key to shifting the cultural norms within the industry. This will only be achieved through raising the number of women in construction roles and through promotion of women within the industry.

What do you enjoy most about working in the Construction industry?

I enjoy the continual challenges, as well as, learning and working with a team to achieve a common goal. I like working with different teams and people from all walks of life; working together, to see something transform, and knowing that you have been a part of creating that.

I studied design/architecture at university and this lead me into construction and eventually project management. I love the creativity of design and architecture but now love to see it in its built form. It’s a physical industry where the effort injected into a project is evident at completion, with a new building, interior fitout or community space.

How are you supported at Sarah as a women in construction?

Sarah Constructions practice what they preach in terms of diversity and gender equality in the workplace. This stems from the top in Sarah’s leadership team, filtering down through their workforce to become part of the daily culture. In my experience at Sarah, I have never felt that I didn’t have the same opportunity as the other male project managers. I have also felt that my opinion was taken into consideration and I was listened to.

Simple things that make you feel valued but not always experienced in every workplace. If I put my hand up for a challenging project that was a bit different to what I had previously delivered, they said ok go for it, instead of me feeling like I had to prove myself. I have felt overwhelmingly supported by Sarah and this has been refreshing at this time in my career. Support has come in many forms such as:

  • A senior management team that is genuine in supporting their staff in a practical sense but also in terms of their well-being.
  • Sarah are actively involved in industry programs that promote gender equality and diversity in the workplace and encourage their staff to participate and be involved in these programs.
  • Professional development through participation in a leadership program, regular opportunities to attend industry events and training opportunities.
  • Being nominated for not just one but many different industry awards.

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in construction?

It’s a challenging industry for both men and women but with challenge comes reward and a greater sense of achievement. Aim high, follow your passion, back yourself and don’t take any setbacks personally. Keep persevering and learn to draw upon the resources around you. People love to help. Find a mentor through opportunities like the MBA’s Hi-Viz program, to provide you with further support.

If you’d like to know more about working in the construction industry, click here for information about careers at Sarah Constructions.

Building Excellence Awards 2018                                                                         

Sarah is committed to delivering the best results for our clients. We apply our solutions focused approach to every single project we complete. It is with pride and acknowledgement for the efforts of our staff, that we accept recognition for delivering award winning construction.

Sarah received Building Excellence Awards for the following projects this year:

St John’s Grammar, Performing Arts Centre – Winner Excellence in Commercial / Industrial Building $2 Million – $5 Million

Monarto Zoo, Lions 360Winner Excellence in Civil / Engineering Constructions

University of Adelaide, Infrastructure Investment Programme – Winner Excellence in Commercial Fitout over $5 Million.

Click here for a full list of building excellence awards that Sarah Constructions has received.

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