When thinking about career opportunities, I tend to articulate the aspects of the work I enjoy doing or need to develop and see what the universe presents. It’s always a good idea to make sure you’re clear about what you want to do, so you can identify it when it is presented to you. My background has mainly been in marketing. I studied a Bachelor of Business at UTS and majored in sports marketing. In 2014, I finished my Masters in International Business.
Before my current role at Think Brick, I managed marketing for the sponsorship of V8 Ford Supercars. From there I was the Director of Marketing for Walt Disney Television. My strength has been to approach a situation objectively; how organisations or industries normally approach what they are doing and how they can change direction. With the brick industry, one of their key struggles is keeping brick contemporary, so they made a decision to change how they did things.
I really believe if you can’t get passionate about something, you can’t expect anyone else to get passionate about it. I genuinely believe in (and have used) brick, as a great construction material. There was a time when it was seen as unsexy, mainly because our greatest strength was our greatest weakness. In the late 90’s we saw people use alternative construction materials. Consumers weren’t recognising the greatest quality of bricks – that they last.
When I came into this role six years ago, the Think Brick Awards had 25 entries. In 2015 we’ve had over 300 entries. Engagement with architects is really important in bringing masonry back into contemporary design, where for a long time it was ignored. The industry needs to improve its communication with consumers and designers that we’re developing the product and bettering its qualities.
I think one of the first things I learnt in this role, is that some people like to have meetings with no outcomes. That’s really difficult for me, because I’m a results-oriented person. Despite the adversity that we have faced as an industry in the last ten years, we have been united as an industry, which is not insignificant when you consider that the people I deal with are all competitors. We’ve come together as an industry to initiate real outcomes and change.
Our product is a material that is subject to so much external influence. It comes out of a kiln, it’s loaded onto a truck, then we really don’t know how it’s being used in design or how it is going to be laid. This is very unique compared to other building products. A perfect product can actually be ruined on so many levels; the bricks can be laid poorly, the design can be ordinary, or it can be specified for the wrong purpose. This all reflects back on brick and sometimes in not the most positive light.
I think we’ve overcome the idea that brick isn’t contemporary, but consistently promoting it is a constant challenge. The challenge is that architects and designers want to use our products in a non-traditional way. They don’t want to use brick as the building’s structure. How our products can adapt to that is going to be interesting, but I have no doubt they will.
I tend to regard that people always like doing business with the people that they like. If they like you, you’ll almost always get business from them. Under-promise and over-deliver. Never underestimate a bad situation or an outcome where something’s gone wrong. How much you can turn that around can be the best outcome for a business relationship and I think that’s where you see opportunities being lost.
Flexibility and autonomy are important for female participation in the workplace, especially once women have had children. I believe until you can have women that are seen to be in positions of power and leadership, you won’t attract more women to these organisations. It’s disappointing to see only one woman in an industry that doesn’t attract many women. Women want some camaraderie to be there.
I believe as women we really try to do it all and we overcompensate too much on every level. It does take a village to raise a family and that’s okay.
We need more change surrounding flexible child care and parents. Most people can’t just leave their job at 5:30pm at night and go pick up a child from childcare. It’s a huge hurdle that financially impacts a lot of households. I don’t think we’ve done it well at all in Australia and sadly I don’t see any changes coming fast enough.
I have a seven-year-old and a four-year-old. I tell my children that they can do anything, as long as they try to be the best that they can be. I think particularly for young girls, you can really see nowadays that you can be anything you want to be professionally. Twenty or thirty years ago, I’m not sure whether you really believed it. But I don’t think that some of the challenges for women are becoming any easier. That’s what I care about for my own daughter. This topic must continue to be at the top of the agenda to facilitate real change.
Elizabeth’s authenticity reflects through her connections with clients. In person, you can immediately sense her warmth and kindness. We met with her several times at Crown Metropol on her short business trips to Melbourne. We were even lucky enough to play with lego, while we watched the spectacular 2015 Think Brick Awards. Elizabeth’s self-belief and an inner vision has enabled her to achieve great influence over her environment. She thinks outside the box. This is what sets the greats apart from the pack. Thank you Elizabeth for your wonderful support and encouragement. You are a true leader, women!