International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women worldwide. To mark the occasion, Duratec project coordinator Laura Elder talks about her experience as a woman in construction.

Before joining Duratec two years ago, Queensland project coordinator Laura Elder had never worked
in construction. She wasn’t sure what to expect from a male-dominated industry as her previous role
had been in facilities management – an area with many women employees. Laura was pleased to experience a smooth transition into her chosen new sector.

Upon starting with Duratec, Laura spent most of her time in the Brisbane office. Her current role, however, has required her to be on site more often and she now enjoys a 50/50 split between the two. Since she had already built relationships with the onsite team and many of the subcontractors, Laura adapted well to her new work environment.

When asked what she likes most about construction, she responds immediately that it’s the variety.

“No two days are the same,” she said.

“Every day offers a new challenge… I don’t have cookie-cutter days and I love that about my job.

“I’m always learning and, like anything, there will always be so much to learn.”

Laura is something of a ‘student of life’ and has navigated both trials and tribulations to get where
she is. As a little girl she longed to become a ballerina and very nearly did, until she was struck by injury as a teenager.

While she started a degree at university, love took Laura down a different path and at 23, she moved to Asia where she started a family. Her children are now aged 14, 12 and nine, and Laura is a sole parent.

“I have a job full of variety that keeps me busy and a second full-time job when I leave here,” she said.

“My life is always busy and Duratec supports that – I wouldn’t be able to live in Queensland, where I have very little support as my family is in WA; work fulltime; and raise three children all by myself.

“The company has allowed me to have all three, and to excel and progress my career, while raising my family and being there for my kids – there are not many companies that will do that.”

Laura says they have a close-knit team in Brisbane and she hasn’t come across many barriers as a
woman in construction.

“Our culture is such that – if I want to achieve, if I want to move forward, Duratec gives me the ability
to do so and the encouragement to do so.

“And I guess, it’s what you make of it, it’s what I choose to make of it.”

She certainly thinks it’s important to have women in construction as she believes they approach things differently and that it’s always good to have diversity in teams.

“Women approach relationships differently, we approach problems differently,” she said.

“I’m not saying that our way is better or worse – we just think differently and having diversity in a company is always a very good thing.”

And if Laura could send a message to young women thinking about their careers?

“I’d tell them what I tell my daughter – you can do anything you want,” she said.

“If there’s something you want, go out and get it.

“Work hard, and go and get it.”