Hammering Down The Barriers On International Women’s Day

Breaking through glass ceilings isn’t so much the
challenge for women working in Marlborough’s construction
industry – try concrete floors and steel beams
instead.

As New Zealand’s celebrates International
Women’s Day, this year focussed on ‘recognising women in
leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19
world’, it’s timely to acknowledge some Marlborough
women leading the way in construction, regarded once upon a
time as a male domain.

The largest construction
project underway in the region is the Marlborough District
Library and Art Gallery build, currently rising from the
ground on a corner site on High Street in Blenheim,
overlooking the Taylor River. The project has been supported
by the Government through the ‘shovel ready’ funding
administered by the Provincial Development Unit.

There
are a number of women involved in its construction, ranging
from on-site roles, administration, design, and consenting
through to project management, environmental engineering and
governance.

Councillor Cynthia Brooks has been
involved with the project from the beginning. She has long
been one of its champions, remaining committed to the cause
despite it being stalled for a number of years due to other
more pressing Council infrastructure obligations, namely the
Renwick and Seddon water schemes. “Because I’m a writer
and a book person I’ve always been keen to see a library
building that is fit for purpose,” she said.

Clr
Brooks is a member of the Project Control Group. “Our role
has been to guide the project – from the site purchases and
concept design development through to the final design and
tendering, culminating in a construction contract – all
the machinations required to see it come to life,” she
said.

Katherine Skipper, architect and Wellington
Studio Principal for Warren and Mahoney, co-led the early
design development for the library and art gallery.
“Working with the Council to unlock the potential of this
project to truly reflect the amazing Marlborough community
and landscape has been a real joy, and we can’t wait to
see the building take shape,” she said.

Conversely,
Council Project and Contracts Manager Maighan Watson has
come from the “ground up” to oversee the administration
of the project.

She joined the Council 18 months ago,
with a business degree from Victoria University and a stint
in property management behind her. While Maighan is quick to
point out she is relatively new to this level of project
management, she is taking it all in her stride and laying
the foundations for an exciting career. That includes
studying towards a qualification in construction management
with strands in quantity surveying.

“I really enjoy
the complexity of projects like this – I like being
challenged. No day is ever predictable and it’s rare if I
haven’t learnt something new before 9am,” Maighan
said.

On site at the library and art gallery
construction area is Jodie Brick, Construction Administrator
for Robinson Construction Ltd.

Originally from
Blenheim, Jodie worked in construction in Auckland for five
years. “This is what I really wanted to do when I returned
home and then this position came up. I wanted to be more on
site and get involved in the complexities of running
projects like this,” she said.

“You have to have
an interest in the construction industry. I personally enjoy
working with the different cultures on a construction
site,” said Jodie. “On a project like this, we are all
on the same page – we are all working for one thing – to
get this building up and running.”

A typical day for
APL Project Manager Mandy Clark is often spent at the
‘”grass roots” on site – the rest of the time she is
working on administration and budgeting. The library and art
gallery is one of the larger projects she has been involved
with. “No two days are the same,” she said. “I always
have my gumboots and high vis jacket in the boot of the
car,” she said.

Mandy is another returnee to
Marlborough. She grew up in Picton, attended Queen Charlotte
College and then spent many years overseas and in Auckland.
In the 1980s (as a woman) working in construction and
heading to site visits, she said she was often the only
female on a site. “It was easy for my name to be
remembered. Now women are in every aspect of the
construction industry.”

And the list of women
involved in the project does not end
there.

Environmental Engineer for WSP Sofia Gorosito
is the site representative charged with performing the
inspections and necessary tests to verify the bearing
capacity of the foundation soil.

The civil engineer
graduate, originally from Argentina, said she had a strong
interest in geotech. “At the same time I am also looking
to be able to see the whole picture of the projects and to
be involved in all the engineering areas,” she
said.

Robinson Construction’s Janet Ashcroft is also
involved, managing the various documentation including
consent requirements, which are a huge part of such a
project.

© Scoop Media

 


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