Powerful women can be found in the construction industry, and they have been there for some time now. Because women are not used to showcasing themselves, it can be thought that they don’t exist. We do. And here is Marcia, an incredible leader, advocate, and a #GladiatHER in her own right – Bek
When Becky Paroz asked me to write a piece, my first reaction was- What will I write!
Interesting, considering I have had a diverse and let’s say- unusual career journey.
And so, my musing began. Why is it that we instantly degrade our knowledge and worth?
I reflected on my upbringing-Lets blame the parents 😊 I was fortunate to have a loving family and was brought up on a farm in a country region, where my parents expected us all to contribute to the running of the business. In saying that, there were definitely gender specific jobs, and subtle yet definite grooming into particular roles.
My first job was as a hairdresser- because that was one of the few jobs for “a girl” in my hometown. I loved the creativity of this role, and will be forever grateful for the exposure it gave me to a diverse range of people, communication and time management skills honed by a constant stream of clients. I even built my first successful business in this industry.
However- I felt there was more for me, and the pursuit of “my fit” began.
I won’t elaborate too much on the career zigzag- Hairdresser, Small Business owner, Chef, Project Director, Event Manager to name a few.
Unsettled they say, unfocused?? No, just a love of the unknown, a willingness to give anything a go, and an inner strength and belief in myself.
So why am I so resistant to raise my head and say- look at me, look at what I’ve done?
This I believe is a trait many women have, and to our detriment. Be humble, be modest, don’t brag- these are good qualities to an extent- however not always when you are a leader.
I believe my biggest learning was when I discovered I needed to gain respect rather than be liked by my employees. A big change for me as a 19-year-old “green” manager, and one which took great courage and a shift in how I saw myself.
I have worked now in male dominated industries for over 15 years now- and love it. I do still have resistance from some, and to be truthful it gets frustrating at times, however, building respect through actions is my go-to- every time. Demonstrating great leadership through your actions is a no brainer, but a commodity thin in the ground.
Great female leaders harness those inbuilt traits that can be our undoing and turn them into skills for success. So let’s turn those traits around:
Empathy: not a pushover- empathy allows employees feel heard, and is proven to be a catalyst to better performance and innovation
Humility- not to be confused with lack of confidence or weakness, humility can assist to inspire people to follow, allows you to admit and learn from your mistakes, and take responsibility
Nurturing- not mothering, rather guiding people to be the best they can, offer support, and celebrate growth and success.
Removing my need to be liked and replacing it with my desire to be respected changed everything for me. You don’t have to be bossy or outspoken to demonstrate strength and gain respect. Listen and learn from EVERYONE! Some of my biggest insights came from conversations with the people on the ground, the “workers” that often feel invisible or not important. Take risks and learned to accept “failure”. It’s not. Its growth. Be kind and fair and confident to take a seat at the table and share your knowledge- its valuable and worthy. Celebrate your abilities, your successes, and become the leader that every little girl and boy aspires to be.
Marcia Kelly is the Director of Wingman Consultants, and a passionate advocate for increasing female participation in industries not traditionally high in women’s representation.
Marcia has a diverse career background, with her first business venture starting at the age of 19. She has owned and managed small and medium sized enterprises for over 25 years and worked across Australia and East Timor.
Marcia works in predominately Civil construction and Mining and has worked on Commonwealth Government and Defense projects. She was the Founder of Women in Resources Northern Territory, was a finalist in Exceptional Women in Resources in 2019, and has qualifications in International Business, Training and Assessment and Workplace Health and Safety, and Project Management.
Marcia is a mother of one, lives in Hervey Bay with her partner, and is passionate in her focus to support and provide innovative solutions to companies and individuals who wish to grow and improve the way they do business.