International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide. To mark the occasion, Duratec project coordinator talk about their experience as women in construction.

Jaz Rosa has worked in construction for a decade and is a bona fide industry professional. She has a
Bachelor of Urban Development (Quantity Surveying) and a published university thesis titled Challenges, success factors and strategies for women’s career development in the Australian construction industry.

Jaz’s experience traverses both Defence and commercial construction and, well, it speaks for itself. Over the years, she has held roles such as estimator, site engineer and project manager, and worked for a Queensland construction company, a global QS firm and a national property and construction group.

Projects that have benefited from her leadership and project management skills include a Department of Education building refurbishment in Brisbane, extensive civil and construction works at a Sydney sporting complex, and everything from site works to services upgrades at high-security Defence bases in both Sydney and Adelaide. Impressive, right? Well. Jaz is only 30.

Since joining Duratec two years ago, Jaz has contributed her considerable talent to numerous construction, building extension and building upgrade projects at RAAF Base Edinburgh, located 25 kilometres north of Adelaide. This on-the-ground experience has reinforced her already thorough understanding of the operational continuity requirements of Defence bases, and the importance of clear and concise communication with project and base stakeholders.

You don’t get to where Jaz is in a male-dominated industry without passion, determination and pure grit. Plus, she’s interested. By showing enthusiasm and a willingness to learn from the beginning of her career, Jaz is well versed in all aspects of a project management role. Every day, she successfully liaises with clients, coordinates subcontractors, supervises works on site, and ensures crew members are meeting health and safety requirements.

Her advice to young women wanting to break into the construction industry?

“Spend time on site,” she said.

“Get in there, see how things work – you won’t get anywhere by just sitting back.

“I spent two years full-time on site as a site engineer and it was hands-down the best way to learn.”

Some may assume that Jaz’s first visit to a construction site was intimidating or a shock. Those people would be underestimating her resilience, resolve and conviction. Jaz grew up with two brothers and quickly learnt to stand up for herself in order to be seen and heard.

By her own admission, she has a strong personality however, contrary to popular belief, this is only
of benefit to her projects. Jaz is direct in her communication, as well as assertive, which can unfortunately be interpreted as ‘aggression’ when it comes from a woman. This is despite the fact that when arguably more severe tones come from a man, they are often not given a second thought.

Jaz encourages younger women, in particular, to “be confident” and “back themselves”. That’s not to say that she herself is or does these things all day, every day – Jaz has her moments, as we all do, but if she hits a bump in the road, she tries not to let it affect her too much. And her tenacity ensures she’s back on her feet in no time.

If there’s one thing Jaz can look back at and laugh, it’s the time she told the school careers counsellor that she wanted to be a builder. Though it was only 12 years ago, Jaz was told she couldn’t be a builder as she was a girl. Well, just look at her now – a degree in urban development, a published thesis, 10 years in construction and a career that’s only just begun.

Look out world, here comes Jaz Rosa.