Read on to hear from six Classic women who speak to what it’s like working for Classic Group, one of New Zealand’s largest construction companies.
Michelle Wells – Build Support Manager – Classic Builders
Michelle’s career progression is an excellent study of how your career can develop and evolve in the right environment. A tremendous amount of variety keeps Michelle on her toes with responsibilities, including managing the administration of builds for the Wellington region, processing any Aftercare requests and reporting. She is currently upskilling as a Construction Management Cadet.
Starting her career in financial administration for a large commercial construction company helped Michelle realise she loved contributing to large projects and making them happen. A timely shoulder tap saw her move to Classic Builders. The biggest gender-based challenge has been gaining the trust that men are naturally given, but Michelle takes it in her stride and lets her work speak for itself.
The best part of working at Classic is…
It’s hard to pick between the people & culture, and the opportunity to progress in your career – it’s a great workplace!
Tracey Carter – Architectural Technician – Classic Builders
Tracey works within the Classic Builders design team working on creating plans for homes and working through feasibility for projects. Blending creativity and a talent for maths meant architecture was a natural choice. Despite women being a minority in the course, Tracey graduated and went on to work with a small architectural firm. Occasionally Tracey faced a little bit of scepticism from the odd male client. However, she overcame the initial reticence and worked hard to gain their confidence. Tracey encourages other young women to ‘Go for it;
“Go for it! It’s a multifaceted career in that you can venture into many fields. Also, designing houses for people is very rewarding, especially their forever homes,” says Tracey.
The best part of working at Classic Group…..
The people! And the environment Classic creates. Classic has a very proactive way of communicating, and I like that they are not the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff and face oncoming issues directly. There is a fundamental element of kindness within the team.
Libby Gosling – Urban Planning – Classic Developments
Juggling multiple demands is something Libby is an expert at. As an Urban planner with Classic Developments, Libby is tasked with balancing various stakeholders’ needs, including aiming for best practice, meeting Council regulations, considering iwi aspirations, and addressing market demands to ensure profitable developments.
“Managing these competing interests can be complex, but my goal is to produce both financially viable and visually appealing developments while also being desirable places to live. Balancing work and my family life has posed challenges, particularly regarding societal expectations. These challenges can be tiring, but I also find them weirdly motivating. We are seeing some progress, but there is still much work to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed,” says Libby.
The best part of working at Classic….
The home and community someone lives in significantly impact their life and wellbeing. I enjoy the challenge and responsibility of planning and designing these places for people.
Joanna Stirling – Construction Manager – Classic Builders Queenstown
Every day is different for Joanne; her role as Construction Manager could be project planning and scheduling, site visits and inspections, managing contractors and suppliers, working with clients, and managing quantity. This career began with a passion for building and tinkering at home, and working in a hardware store pushed her into action and pursuing training and an apprenticeship. Quite a pivot for someone with a Nursing degree!
Stereotypes and biases can often impact their career progression in such a male-dominated space. With a lack of role models and representation, there wasn’t a clear pathway to follow, and the job can be very physically demanding. Many of the machinery and materials require significant physical strength, which Joanne overcame by undertaking strength training. There is also the fact that standard workwear and equipment are designed with men in mind, something that is slowly changing!
Despite the challenges of being a woman in a leadership role in a male-dominated industry, Joanne encourages other women to consider the industry. She has some excellent advice for others considering a similar role:
- Believe in yourself: Having confidence in your abilities and believing you can succeed in the construction industry is essential. You can start by focusing on your strengths and working on areas where you need improvement.
- Get the proper education and training: Good education and training are critical for success in the construction industry. You can explore various options, such as apprenticeships, vocational courses, and degree programs.
- Find a mentor: It can be helpful to have a mentor who can provide guidance and support as you navigate your career in construction. Look for someone with industry experience who can help you develop your skills and knowledge.
- Be proactive: In the construction industry, you need to be proactive and take the initiative to learn new skills, take on new challenges, and seek out opportunities for growth and development.
- Network: Networking is critical in any industry, and construction is no exception. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and connect with other professionals in the field.
- Speak up: If you experience discrimination or harassment, speaking up and seeking support is essential. Remember that you have the right to work in a safe and respectful environment.
- Be persistent: The construction industry can be challenging, but don’t give up. Keep working hard, stay focused on your goals, and don’t let any setbacks discourage you from pursuing your career in construction.
The best part of working at Classic ….
When clients are happy with the final result and express their satisfaction, it can be a gratifying experience and help build solid and long-lasting relationships.
Ada Liang – Quality Surveyor Regional Lead – Classic Builders
Efficient pricing and planning are vital to the success of any construction project, and Ada Liang is responsible for quantity surveying across a regional team.
Ada had some compelling motivation to find a career that supported her and financially and fulfilled her dream of having her own home. Ada has overcome a period of unemployment, and her talent for maths lead her to train as a QS.
The best part of working at Classic ….
There are plenty of favourite things about this job, I enjoy the “me time” of interpreting building plans and drawings when doing take off or pricing, and I also like the friendly working vibes and people here in Classic.
Michelle Croxon – Head Gardener – Classic Life
From Pharmacy Technician to Head Gardener, is quite a big change but Michelle Croxon has loved retraining in horticulture and getting outdoors. Leading a team of four gardeners, a typical day could include lawn mowing, pruning, weeding and many other outdoor maintenance activities. Another key role is driving the residents van for weekly shopping expeditions. Michelle is popular among the residents of the villages and has great advice for other women considering a career shift.
“If it’s what you’re passionate about then just do it! You spend a lot of time at work so make sure you enjoy doing what you do…. If you’re not happy you are the only one that can make the changes right for you,” says Michelle.
The best part of working at Classic is…
The amazing support & guidance from colleagues. I have made some lifelong friendships. I love that there is never a day that I think, “Sheesh I don’t want to go to work today!”. I feel truly blessed that I can honestly say I love my job.