Women laying a strong foundation
To celebrate International Women's Day on Friday March 8, The West Australian's New Homes spoke to four women who work in Perth's building & construction industry. Our very own Erin Cooper was one of them.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on Friday March 8, New Homes spoke to four women who work in Perth’s building and construction industry.
All four championed the industry and encouraged more women to consider a career in the home building sector.
Ms Grljusich told New Homes her love of designing was evident even when she was very young. “From a very early age I would draw detailed house plans and construct buildings out of Lego,” Ms Grljusich said.
She said she loved working on several creative projects and enjoyed how every day was different.
“I love that no two days are the same,” she said. Ms Grljusich uses 3D walk-through videos to help clients visualise how their new home will look. “This includes designing furniture, adding colours and textures and the overall furniture layout,” she said.
“Recently I’ve been leading the way in furniture design. It’s something I’m really passionate about and it’s great to create pieces my team can utilise.
“One of my proudest career moments would have to be being part of the creative team that has designed a number of award-winning homes. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Mentored by one of the best in the business, Brian Burke Homes Client Manager Erin Cooper said she was extremely proud of her work and loved the company’s team environment.
Renowned for his craft, Brian Burke Homes Managing Director Mike Burke is a stickler for getting things right and strives for excellence with every home build.
“It’s a real pleasure working with the team at Brian Burke Homes,” Ms Cooper said. “Mike’s trust and autonomy toward the work I do is a real compliment. It’s something I am particularly proud of.”
Ms Cooper admitted to having experienced some sexism on the job. “While not often, I have come across sexism from both clients and tradespeople,” she said. “In the rare instances that it occurs, Mike has been privy to the situation and will make it known those attitudes are not welcome. At the end of the day I know I am very good at what I do, but it is a shame you do feel at times you have to prove yourself more than your male counterparts.”
Ms Cooper said she managed to rise above these issues and usually did it with a smile.
“Having a male in a senior role who champions females in the construction industry is very powerful and should be supported,” she said.
“I believe employing women in male-dominated industries contributes to a well-rounded workforce.
“For our office, I think the women bring a great balance. Everyone brings their unique personality and skillset, and it just works.”
Working across four very different divisions under the Dale Alcock banner, no two days are the same for Dale Alcock Homes Marketing Manager Tiffany Norton, who manages the marketing department and leads a team of five.
“Our team looks after all marketing, advertising and public relations for the businesses, including brand and retail strategy, marketing campaigns, display homes, budgets and reporting, plus many other activities,” Miss Norton said. “Additionally, my role also involves leadership, supervision, training, coaching and mentoring.”
Miss Norton is proud of her achievements in what can sometimes be a challenging environment. “I have been fortunate to work with companies that are inclusive,” she said.
“I was brought up to work hard at everything you put your mind to. I’ve worked in this industry since starting out and I can honestly say I don’t have any issues or struggles working in it. It’s an industry I’m used to and love being part of and I’m proud to have become successful. Women can often bring a different point of view to a situation or challenge. Employing more women in male-dominated workforces makes for more inclusion and fair working environments.”
Miss Norton said hard work and resilience were important in any field of work, but were particularly vital in the building industry. She said young women wanting to get into the sector should put themselves forward. “Put yourself forward, keep reinventing yourself and have a strong support network of both males and females in your workplace,” Miss Norton said. “Building strong relationships is so important. And have some fun along the way.”
Eager to establish herself in the construction industry, Webb & Brown-Neaves Operations Manager Lauren Birkhead is a determined individual who joined the ABN Group 14 years ago.
As the operations manager, her job includes designing, drafting, estimating, prestart and scheduling. “I love my job as every day I have the opportunity to work with our staff and on our business as well as be in contact with our customers throughout the process,” she said. “I always strive to improve and deliver an exceptional customer experience.”
Mrs Birkhead said the building industry was competitive and full of challenges that helped you grow and develop. “In such a competitive industry, filled with many inspiring and courageous leaders, I have been challenged year in, year out to bring my A-game and deliver as a peer and to our customers,” she said. “That never goes away or gets any easier and it has been integral to my career. “Diversity can bring nothing but positives. We are fortunate to have incredible men and women in the building industry. “Creating opportunities for more women to play a role encourages different elements of excellence and perspective.”