So I’ve just made eight years at Multiplex…which is crazy, right? Especially considering average tenure in a job right now in Australia sits at 2 years and eight months for my age group. See I think people forget how vast the opportunities are in the construction industry. Particularly in a large organisation. The opportunity to reinvent yourself. The opportunity to move laterally or globally or climb the ladder. And now I’m where I wanted to be and it’s a great place to look backwards with some hindsight and respect for the choices I made.
We are always asking our interviewee to give advice, thoughts and learning on their experiences. One piece of advice I’d like to share is that age is but a number. There is often this feeling that if you don’t ‘make it’ to some ill-defined pinnacle by age 30, you’re a failure. In fact, I heard someone once state exactly that in a talk a couple years ago…that if you don’t make it to the title of project manager before the age of 30, why’d you even show up? I was sitting in the audience, 30, and still a project coordinator…thinking ‘f*ck my life’s over’.
Looking back, in hindsight I’ve realised that my timeline is my own. Now running my second project as a project manager for a tier one, having just turned 33, I’ve realised I’m satisfied with the path my career has taken and I’m running my own race.
When I started in the industry all those years ago, I had this design heavy background. I studied architecture and property. I had no idea the construction side of things really existed. Design management felt like a comfortable fit. Often stereotyping me, I was constantly told I’d make a great design manager. I very quickly fell into that role in a junior capacity – and excelled at it. I then had the opportunity to work under a brilliant fit out project manager…which made me question my direction.
It took a senior manager to question my thoughts on being a fit out project manager, that finally set me on the path to project manager. I’m a self confessed girly girl. If I’m not at ballet class, I’m shopping, or getting my nails done, going to the theatre, reading Jane Austen etc. Yet in a way, my friends have always been guys. I grew up in a house where my Dad worked construction. I felt comfortable around ‘the boys’. I feel like on site, whilst I’m definitely a weird fit (i.e. on Friday’s last meeting for the day, a new sub-contractor walks in for a tender meeting…’Oh, are you the PM?’ staring at me quizzically), I feel like I can find a place to relate to most. Years on stage and a thousand architecture studio presentations have meant I can put on a performance, command a room and bullshit my way through pretty much anything. I was made for this.
In eight years I have played at design, services, contract administration and project management. I’ve touch residential, health, commercial and institutional work. This isn’t a resume. It’s an endorsement of the breathe and dynamism of our industry. Try it…if you don’t like it…find another role. There are a thousand opportunities for reinvention. Rejuvenation. Growing and learning new skills are key to the success of our own careers, but also the organisations we work in.
So don’t know what you want to be at 25? Well that’s ok, because I still thought I’d be trying my hand at developing property or drawing wet area elevations. Take a look around and follow your instincts. If it doesn’t work out, move on or find a new trail. The hike is worth it.