Ferrycarrig’s Water Sector Lead, Vanessa Ah Chong, speaks at the Women’s Job Summit at Phive Parramatta
Q&A with Ferrycarrig’s Water Lead
Vanessa Ah Chong gives us the low down on what it’s like to work for Ferrycarrig as a Woman in Leadership
Tell us about your career path, and what led you to your current role?
My whole career was delivering water infrastructure projects, starting as a Site Engineer and then progressing onto a Project Manager role.
What led you to pursue a career in the civil construction industry?
I enjoyed math and sciences in High School and I was very good at them. So I decided to pursue an engineering career. I did my University Degree in France, studying Chemical Engineering with a major in water treatment. Opportunities directed me into the civil side of the project management of water infrastructure.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a woman in the civil construction industry?
There aren’t enough women in civil construction, especially in the delivery of projects. As a woman in a male dominated industry, I have to work hard to get where I am today and prove my value. I’m proud of being a female in this industry with a contribution to changing the industry and making it a norm for women to work in the civil construction industry.
What’s the best part of your job?
The sense of accomplishment is being able to be part of the success of a project from bidding for it, winning it, and going into design and construction. I think it just makes it more rewarding when you drive past a finished project and see what you have been able to create.
How do you think women are leading the charge of improving diversity in the construction workplace?
The problem with women not wanting to join the civil construction industry is fear of not being seen as a valuable contribution to the company. It starts with an understanding of the benefits of diversity. The more diverse a team is, the stronger it is. Personally, I think there are advantages as well as being a woman in the Civil construction industry. Women tend to be more sensitive to hearing everyone’s opinion which can help bring new perspectives and ideas to projects.
If you could provide advice to a young female interested in a career in civil construction, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to pursue engineering as engineering is a rewarding career! Working in civil construction will give you the chance to shape the places we live in.
How do you think construction can attract more female candidates?
Businesses can encourage and support more female candidates by giving them exposure to civil construction and experience with the different aspects of a project and the business. Opportunities may include job shadowing, being included in different meetings, internal job transfers, and more. Formal or informal mentorship is another great initiative to boost female participation by supporting women starting out in the industry. Having someone to seek advice and guidance from to help with industry specific topics and workplace scenarios, can give them the confidence to execute.