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How Diversity and Tech Are
Reshaping the Construction Industry

 

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Rob:
Hello and welcome to today’s webinar session, brought to you by InEight. Today we are coming to you in partnership with NAWIC as well and a bit more about NAWIC and our guest speaker in the next few minutes. We had an interesting topic for you today, looking at the topic of diversity and skill shortage in the construction industry, in the engineering industry. It’s obviously very contemporary and relevant in the current environment and unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of good commentary around in the media about it. I’m going to be joined today by Fiona Doherty who’s the director of Rider Levett Bucknall and also director and board member of NAWIC, which is the National Association of Women in Construction and today’s event’s being developed in association with NAWIC and we’re really excited to see their members join us as part of the broader engineering and construction community involved in this session.

Rob:
So if there’s one thing that’s really come over the last year, that’s come to light, it’s been that realization that we need to look at how we work together and how we work individually and the project’s success is no longer going to be guaranteed by having everyone in the same room and having the same conventional players operate across projects. In fact, there’s a shortage of labor and a shortage of skilled labor that means that we need to think differently about how that’s provided for on projects to ensure success, and technology has a place in that in terms of allowing people to work remotely but there’s a few other factors to consider too.

Rob:
Fiona and I both were involved in an article that was published by thefifthestate.com.au, which was trading hard hats for laptops. That was published a couple of months ago and it triggered this series of conversations that’s led to today’s webinar and it’s going to be great to have a conversation with Fiona about that and talking about how the industry’s moving away from boots in the mud and more towards hands on keyboards and touching screens and making things happen without necessarily being literally knee deep on site.

Rob:
So we’re going to have the opportunity to discuss a few topics, which includes why diversity matters now more than ever and the steps that organizations are and can continue to take to make sure that there is a diverse organization and diverse workforce out there in the industry. It’s also an opportunity to look at how things can be changed to attract and develop and maintain high skill diverse talent and of course the role technology plays is always key as an aid to explore that too.

Rob:
So before we get started, just a couple of quick reminders for you all, keen for you to say hello and use that chat box on the right hand side of the screen to engage with us. So if you’re got some questions throughout the next 45 minutes or so, please post those there, ask those questions and we’ll do our best to go through and answer those. Rose will be moderating those questions and feeding them up to us so Fiona and I will do our best to address those for you, live as we talk to you.

Rob:
And of course, give us some feedback. We want to know what you think about this and make sure that it’s relevant and topical for you in all the ways that we believe it is. So your feedback helps us to continue refining that content and how we bring things to you. So before we get started, I’d like to ask Fiona to introduce herself and provide us with a bit of a background on her career and what’s led to our discussion today. So Welcome Fiona.

Fiona Doherty:
Hey Rob, how you going?

Rob:
Very good thanks. Very good.

Fiona Doherty:
Good good. So the big introduction. Hello everyone. I’m Fiona Doherty so I’m a director here of Rider Levett Bucknall. For those of you who don’t know what we do, I’m sure most people do, we’re quantity surveyors and advisory consultants. I’ve been at Rider Levett Bucknall now for about seven years. Prior to that I dabbled in project management and did my formal training in quantity surveying in the UK. What seems like a very short time ago but now realize is quite a vintage number. So UK, moved to Singapore, moved to Australia over 20 years ago and here I am. I’ve had various other board positions with NAWIC and AIQS as well, the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors and the RICS, other bits and pieces. So that’s me. There you go.

Rob:
Fantastic. Well I think it’s great, Fiona, and we’ve got to talk over the last few weeks and I think learning more about your background, it comes as no surprise to me now that you’re able to offer the insights and the perspectives on this topic that you can with your international background and of course your own personal experience throughout your career too so I think we’re going to have an interesting conversation.

Fiona Doherty:
I hope so.

Rob:
I’m sure we will. I’m confident.

Fiona Doherty:
Excellent, good.

Rob:
There’s one thing that would be useful, as we were looking at this, was perhaps to start things off by asking those who have joined us online a question to start off. So the question that we’d like to ask you is, do you feel that technology such as artificial learning, artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, is providing an opportunity to attract a more diverse and inclusive talent pool to an industry that is currently experiencing major skill shortage? So we are talking about the construction engineering sector in that. So what are your thoughts? We’re keen to get your feedback and that poll is now live so you can vote on that on screen and we’ll come back to the response in the next few minutes once you’ve had a chance to cast your votes. We’ll see what people come up with there, Fiona.

Fiona Doherty:
Yeah, that’s a very good question. I’ll be interested to see other people’s opinions on that one.

Rob:
Absolutely. Well as we wait for that to come through, I think the article that we both contributed to on The Fifth Estate did get cogs turning and got us thinking about just how much things have changed over the last year and what it’s brought into focus in terms of that diversity of our workforce and the opportunity there is and the need, frankly, to also make our industry a more inclusive one and bring some change to the skill sets. I know there’s been some reports out there from JB Knowledge and the 2020 ConTech report that talked about the very small percentage that women represent in the construction industry at just 1.5% and the fact that the female representation in the construction industry hovers just around that 10% out of the actual job sites, that number plummets to closer to 1%. I guess things are starting to change but Fiona, keen to get your take on what you see being the vision or perhaps good starting point is what NAWIC see in representing them, the vision and purpose when it comes to changing perceptions around females in the engineering construction space.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely. So NAWIC are a not for profit organization. We’ve been around since 1995. So our 25th anniversary just past. So we provide a forum to members to meet and exchange ideas and information and build networks and support each other but we also have a very strong advocacy platform and provides others with a go-to voice for comments on women in construction within the industry and government. So our vision for Australia is to have an equitable construction industry where women fully participate and our plan to achieve this, our target at the moment is to get a 25% minimum female participation across all construction industry by 2025.

Fiona Doherty:
So it’s the mirroring a lot of industry targets is the [inaudible 00:18:18] so we’re going for 25 by ’25. So yeah, your stats are very interesting there. We’re seeing it between that 1 and 2% in trade roles on site and then the broader industry, between 10, 12% over the full construction industry. That hasn’t really changed in my time in the industry, which as I said, is now looking fairly vintage. So I think there is change, it is happening but it’s been a long, hard slog and continues to be but I think there’s momentum now and the volunteers of NAWIC are testament to that and the work everybody does to have that voice in industry.

Rob:
Yeah I think it certainly is a more general theme across not just this sector but obviously across all sectors there’s a greater awareness of that topic and seeing that balance and that diversity and place. Why do you think, particularly for the construction industry, why do you think it is still as much of an issue today as it is?

Fiona Doherty:
I think it’s stereotypes. That seems like an oversimplified answer but probably the same reason why nursing has a lower representation of men. When people think about construction, it’s about being in the thick of it about being on site but there’s so much more to it. The diversity of roles within our industry is massive. You’ve got design, engineering, surveying, construction, asset management, asset disposal. Then all the other bits in between but not only that, we’ve then got a diversity within the sectors that we work in so diversity of major infrastructure projects such as roads and rail and mining, etc. to social infrastructure such as hospitals to commercial and residential development. It’s a hugely diverse industry but we just haven’t hit the mark with the diversity of our workforce and it’s certainly…

Fiona Doherty:
But I think those stereotypes are changing but that would be my, as I said, oversimplified answer to, it’s people’s perception of what construction is and what you do. I mean, as I said, I very rarely get my boots dirty at all these days. Yeah. The old stereotypes.

Rob:
Good point that you raised, the fact that it is changing already. I wonder if it’s just a lack of awareness in generations coming through and in the workforce in general about what the construction industry is today. Because it has progressed a great deal, so are you seeing a mix in those roles where there is a better level of diversity, and better level of inclusion as well?

Fiona Doherty:
From a female participation view, I’ll take Rider Levett Bucknall as an example, we’ve certainly seen in the Australian business, we’re not hitting stats of 30% and that’s across our technical staff as well. A lot of the times, companies get criticized that you’re just talking about the more traditional administration roles but no, that’s technical staff. So it is changing and of course, what happens when you start getting a bit of momentum with the stats, 30%, is that people are then seeing, this is a job that somebody can do. You then get a bit of momentum of people into the industry. But it needs to start early in the education piece to break down for people to understand what roles are available and who can do what.

Rob:
Yeah, I think that’s obviously key and I think that’s one of the things that we were keen to look at as part of ongoing initiatives is education in the market around those opportunities for those generations coming through as well. So look, interesting again to think back to your career and I was keen to find out a little bit more and ask you a couple more personal questions around that to, if you don’t mind Fiona, which is-

Fiona Doherty:
Steady.

Rob:
Yeah. We’ll keep the line very clear. I think interesting for those joining us today to hear about your personal journey as well because I think how you found your seat at the table, not just within Rider Levett Bucknall but also within the industry and there’s topics here that you’re clearly very passionate about so I was keen to ask you about that and share what you will on that topic.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely. We touched on this in previous discussions. Obviously I mean I don’t know if this is criticism or praise that my partner says, “Your career’s very linear.” I’m like, I suppose it is really. I started as a QS and guess what? I’m still a QS. So I started work at 19, did my training in the UK as I said and then I kind of had this vision, where do you want to be in five years? I kind of thought, eventually I’d like to be the director of a company but I had no idea how I was going to get there. From a very personal point of view, as I said, I think I wasn’t taking my full self to work for a very long time and I think that was, for me, a very career limiting thing. I came out as gay in my early 30s. So you can see there’s a whole chunk of my career where I was not being me and hiding a part of my self, which then is a limiter on what you can do because you’re constantly checking yourself, you’re constantly wondering, if somebody finds out about this in my personal life, that’s my whole career down the gurgler.

Fiona Doherty:
I gave myself a good talking to and decided that wasn’t what’s going to happen and the company I work for were very accepting as well. I think I gained the confidence to then go get what I needed to get, which was a position. I suppose within six years of that, I was then director of company here in Canberra. So yeah, I think from that very personal level, is that whole bringing your whole self to the office and having the confidence that other people’s opinions doesn’t necessarily matter and I know that it’s easier for some people than others but to have a safe space is so important.

Rob:
It’s some really interesting points here in terms of how we progress the industry and opinions generally. I find it really interesting you say that about bringing yourself to work and being yourself. I think for anyone at work, you’re going to put your full energy into it, you have to be, as you said, confident in who you are and not be preoccupied consciously or subconsciously with those other aspects of your life that you’re trying to prevent others from knowing effectively and then further to that, perceptions that you may feel others are carrying that hopefully are not founded and maybe when you can be yourself and you can open up to everyone in the workplace. What do you see being the role for leaders in the industry and leaders of companies? What can they do to help facilitate the expansion of our workforce and to take advantage of our skill set that’s there across the whole of our community?

Fiona Doherty:
Be open. Definitely challenge your biases. Educate yourself. I mean, change has to start from the top. You need to be open to what’s out there. Other examples, I suppose accessibility. You can’t be a quantity surveyor because you need to go on site. But it’s like, there’s so many other aspects of my job that you can do that doesn’t necessarily mean about going on site. It’s about, again it goes back to that education piece from top to bottom, resetting your thoughts on everything. Knowing, again, from a gender, a female point of view that it’s 50% or 51% of the population being underutilized in my opinion, across a whole industry. So it’s understanding what’s the talent that’s out there and using it.

Rob:
Yeah, absolutely. I think there’s some really key points there. Now I’ve got some results in here Fiona, from our survey. Drum roll. So let’s see, what do people think? It appears 38% of you on with us today said that yes, technology does represent opportunity to address the current skill shortage that we have. So I think that’s really interesting and there were some other comments through the chat too that you provided. We’ll see where we might be able to take some points from those as we get through the next few minutes or so but I think that’s an interesting number, by no means a majority but nevertheless a telling number. As I say, not a majority so it seems there’s a lot of people out there who perhaps are yet to be convinced of what technology’s role is and perhaps it’s more, we were talking about before Fiona, it’s the hearts and minds of leadership that need to be there if you’re going to be able to leverage the technology as well. So technology may then be a clear enabler.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely, I think it’s the broad aspect of technology as well. I know there’s obviously a lot of, I suppose fear out there that jobs will be taken over, boots on the ground jobs won’t be taken over but it can be small technology advances and it can be even about just connecting people on site and process flows, etc. just being implemented that you make sure that everyone on site’s connected, it’s a work health and safety issue. Technology can assist. It’s not changing something. It’s actually assisting something that’s already happening, especially to think about COVID is having that, reminding people to safe work practices. It might be an alarm of washing your hands besides a wash sink, wash your hands. Stuff like that. It’s even just little pieces of technology can add to the way we work and maybe more efficiently and more connections.

Rob:
Absolutely. You know though, I think there’s some bigger chunks too and if we think about the last year, being the year that didn’t happen in 2020, what are some of the things that you’re seeing there in technology, the adoption of technology, that might actually be facilitating things in a way that we may not even be fully conscious of or people might not appreciate because it’s just going on behind the scenes. I know there are some fascinating technologies that are in place now to improve efficiency and enable people to conduct tasks, to gather insights, without needing to traipse through the mud. What are some of the things you’ve seen there too, Fiona?

Fiona Doherty:
Well so I mean last year obviously was interesting for everybody on very many levels but one thing it taught us within the company, I suppose as an industry, is we had to adapt and very quickly. So flexibility as a work from home concept has been talked about for many years and doing work in diversity committees talking about it and going, “This would be a really good thing for your business.” And it is a lot of the time, falling on deaf ears and all of a sudden overnight, we had to work from home. So you had to make it work. So people may not appreciate the subtle technologies. Yeah, we all had to use Teams or we all had to use the great medium of seances called Zoom.

Fiona Doherty:
So all of these things, all of these little tools that we started using. Other examples for us as quantity surveyors. We still had to do a progress claim recommendation. We still had to go and assess work complete on site so contractors could be paid. There were a couple of times where we weren’t able to get to a site and the project manager was there and we’d literally be walking around with them with their phone on. So you’re doing virtual site visits. We had to have said that we’ve seen the work complete so it was either through doing those virtual site walks or on other projects, this is way before the pandemic, on other projects we’ve been using drones that were out at rural properties where we had to do some progress claims, just sending a drone up and assessing the work that way as well.

Fiona Doherty:
That was work for a bank so we were able to then include that it wasn’t just a photo of a bit of a shed somewhere on the ground. Overall they could see the whole site and the work was being done. So yeah, lots of smaller things coming into play that I think got a bit of a kickstart last year, absolutely.

Rob:
Some key ones there for me when I think about what that does to enable the workforce, particularly the remote work aspect of it, it gets me thinking about those that may be able to offer their skills from a part time basis if they’ve got other responsibilities for family, be those mothers or fathers that are at home and maybe able to offer their skills and provide their skills to the workforce from a process point of view and even inspections to some extent as well when it can be done to that level of remoteness, and also those who have a disability and aren’t able to be as mobile, what drones and other technology can do to enable people to offer their skills to the workforce as well. I think for me, those are some really interesting ones to explore as we look ahead to how the industry could become more inclusive and more open to a broader range of people in the community with skills.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely, that’s exactly… From the work I do, you used to think it was limiting but it’s not. I mean the world’s your oyster, especially the way things are changing but as I said, we see air forces using remote drones so we can certainly use it in construction and it could obviously be a very good segue for my small obsession of Boston Dynamics and Spot the Dog and the work that they’re doing. If anybody here has heard of Spot, they’ll know why I’m a little obsessed and if they haven’t, jump onto Boston Dynamics website. The type of work that Spot can do around sites, around difficult work sites, bad weather, dangerous compliance spaces, all those sort of things that we can use technology where we’re not putting humans at risk that can be done by something like Spot, is it data gathering on those construction sites, etc.? Yeah, I think there’s just so many opportunities for technology.

Rob:
Yeah, absolutely.

Fiona Doherty:
Which would then lead me to my question because I can’t let you ask all the questions.

Rob:
Of course.

Fiona Doherty:
This is your bag, obviously, the technology side of it. You’ve heard from me from a diversity point of view and the opportunities but you’re the tech side, I’m the dinosaur. From a tech side, do you think the industry’s ready for some of the tech we’ve talked about?

Rob:
That in itself is a good question because it requires a good deal of momentum. Unfortunately the construction industry’s had a reputation over the last few decades of being slow to adopt technology compared to other sectors. We’ve seen sectors such as manufacturing and even agriculture that have been far more aggressive in their adoption of technology to provide efficiencies. The construction sector has lagged behind. I think it’s at a point now though where I think it’s more ready than it was in the last decade and I think the reason for that is a couple of key factors. One is a key challenge around efficiency and organizations being stretched thin and needing to really examine how well they can operate. So technology can bring improvements to how things are planned and scheduled and managed through the whole process of construction and design engineering. I think then there’s more willingness today than there was because you can’t rely on the old formulas. So yeah, I think this is the time, without wanting to sound too pretentious about it all. I think this is the time for the industry to change. On the back of 2020 and with the investment that we’re seeing here in Australia in particular around government led infrastructure, I think there’s an opportunity for those who want to in the industry to make that leap and differentiate themselves. I think yeah, it’s not going to be universal but a lot of the industry is ready.

Fiona Doherty:
Good to hear.

Rob:
I think even the owners too for that matter, Fiona. I think one of the encouraging things we see is in the owners. The owners being typically government or major resources firms are leading that new standard of operation. Then everyone else will literally get dragged along if they want to be part of it.

Fiona Doherty:
Well I think that’s a pretty good point because you see that with them and the whole… My opinion, BIM’s only good if you’re going to use it at the end. So you need to use it for your asset management and yeah, it’s great having a model for design and construction but the real power of them comes from managing your asset at the end, so having all the information available. So to see how that has to be led because I have seen it on products but it’s like, it’s a bit expensive, isn’t it? I’m not going to use that. To saying, no, this is an initiative on all government assets, for example we have to have the full model integrated into our asset management system. So when you start doing that, it moves up and it’s like, we now have to do it from a design point of view. So yeah, slow to adopt but hopefully we’ll get there.

Rob:
Yeah, I think so. I think so. I think it’ll happen, absolutely. That’s good. I don’t mind you firing some questions at me, Fiona.

Fiona Doherty:
No, that’s all right. I’m not going to ask you any… I won’t ask you anything personal about which football club you support or anything and-

Rob:
Or even which country I support.

Fiona Doherty:
Or which country because I don’t want to put any salt in the wound, mate. So anyway, carry on.

Rob:
Yeah, fine, yeah, good idea. Moving on quickly, not mentioning the Euro.

Fiona Doherty:
Don’t mention it, yeah.

Rob:
Too late. I think one of the really interesting areas too is picking up on what we talked about before, the importance for a diverse workforce. We’ve talked about some of the enabling factors and we’ve talked about some of the things that we believe need to be done but I think a good point to remind everyone is, it isn’t just a for the sake of it debate. There’s a very genuine benefit to this discussion. What do you see being the key learnings and the opportunity for a shift in our overall culture as a result of this move to have a more diverse workforce in construction and engineering in a very, shall we call it a sector that’s got, let’s just say a reputation for lagging behind?

Fiona Doherty:
Again it comes back to, the more diverse workforce is diverse thinking and diverse action. So I think that’s a big, important part is that you can certainly just keep going with the way you’re doing something but how does that then benefit the community as a whole? The way I always think is it has to be, the jobs we do and the lives we lead need to benefit everybody around us, not just one sector of the community and we need to embrace everybody’s skills and that leads to changes, it leads to, as I said, diversity and thought, which can lead to better processes and better ways of doing things. When you’re leaving, in the case of female participation, when you’re leaving out 40% odd of the population, taking in the 10 to 12% that are already in, you’re losing benefits. I mean research already found that it’s better for the bottom line as well, for businesses. So I think we are a slow moving industry but again, I’m heartened by every NAWIC event I go to, I mean I am bias about the ACT because I’m based here but you go to more NAWIC events and where it’s so small with only women, huge amount of members across the board now to reflect our industry in the area and seeing the benefits and the opportunities that NAWIC creates, for example.

Rob:
Talking about NAWIC a little bit more, what is NAWIC’s current involvement across the industry in terms of other industry associations and their engagement and partnerships with those?

Fiona Doherty:
So the role of NAWIC as I see it, it’s about connection and advocacy. So as I was saying before, that voice for the industry. So really what we’re trying to do is bridge the gap between government and industry. There’s examples of some of the education initiative we’re doing, what the industry needs is a pipeline of talent. How they’re going to get that is through education, which comes back down to government. We’re trying to fill that gap to talk about those initiatives and then create that pipeline of talent. It’s also then about educating the industry about how to work with women. Queensland, for example, are piloting… have got the male allies program. So while everyone has best intentions, there’s an education piece for industry to say, this is how it works and look at the benefits. Things that have been so long ingrained, they’re very hard to change. That was kind of our role where we want to step in and bridge those gaps and help with the education piece across both government and the industry.

Rob:
That’s good. One of the questions that came up from our participants relates to that too Fiona. Sarah was asking about whether the fields of engineering and construction are attractive to a female market and what we in the industry can do really break down some of those preconceived ideas in the midst about the reality of the work. We talked a little bit about it but is there a role that NAWIC are playing in that as well, in that education piece?

Fiona Doherty:
Yeah, definitely. I mean the old saying goes, you can’t beat what you can’t see. What we’re also trying to do is to promote our members and the work that they do and the gains that they’ve had across the industry. Saying it’s not attractive to women, I completely agree with the point, partly that there are those stereotypes to break down and it’s obviously not just construction. We’ve seen some of the hideous behavior in parliament that would make that a very difficult workplace to attract women to as well. Yes it’s difficult but I think getting out there as people like myself and many other NAWIC advocates getting out and saying, “Hey, this is what I do.” It’s always a source of enjoyment for my friends, “So what do you do?” One of my friends goes, “You just count doorknobs, don’t you?” Yeah, pretty much, that’s it, sure.

Fiona Doherty:
So educating people on what you do and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing for quantity surveyors because when we tell people what we do, we have to wake them up sometimes. I love what I do. I love the involvement that I have in the construction industry and the buildings that we build, the problems that I get to solve. The clients that I get to meet. I love working on social infrastructure because you see then people using a hospital, hopefully not yourself. You see all of those benefits that the work you do does and it just makes it enjoyable. How are women going to know about that? Well they’re only going to know if people like me say, “Hey, look, have you thought about this?” And see the role models.

Rob:
Yes and NAWIC has a role to play-

Fiona Doherty:
Very much so.

Rob:
… in providing a platform for those role models and taking that voice forward.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely.

Rob:
One of the other comments that came through from participants was from Aaron who was saying, you and I, we’ve talked a little about the roles that don’t require being on site and how technology’s actually helping people to potentially avoid needing to be on site. But what do we need to do to break down the barrier for the roles that are on site and what are the biggest obstacles that need to be solved there? We see it across other sectors where we’ve got females in the airline industry as captains and in senior positions through organizations. We’ve seen that in other industrial sectors. So what do we need to do in construction to put females into those positions and more of the onsite roles rather than seeing that percentage so incredibly low right now?

Fiona Doherty:
Put them into the positions. There you do, just do it.

Rob:
Attracting them-

Fiona Doherty:
That’s easier said than done, quite obviously. I mean again, it comes back to what I was talking about before about the education piece. Getting in very early to say, this is the industry and it’s a two pronged approach. You’ve got to get in early with the education piece of schools and parents to understand that there is a career path and then also the top level of management to say, “I’m going to employ women, I’m going to actively go out there.” There was an advert from one of the subcontractors here in Canberra, I think it was on LinkedIn or Facebook, somebody can correct me if they’re online, about a subcontractor here actively recruiting women into their painting business. So as trainees or with experience. It’s about that active recruitment and the education piece further down. It’s easier said than down but we’re getting there and we will get there, I think. When there’s such a skill shortage and we’ve seen that if you then can say, “Have you thought about this?” “Well, no, why would I do that?” “Here’s why you’d do that and here’s the people you talk to.” And again, that’s that piece that NAWIC can do is that connection of getting people talking and getting people on site. There’s some great work being done in the industry around this as well.

Rob:
Yeah I think in reading through Aaron’s question, it says there about the biggest obstacle that needs to be solved and it sounds to me as if it’s just that consciousness to break down perceptions until it just becomes as normal as it should be, which initially caused things to be a conscious effort, in terms of calling it out and actually asking the question and trying to address the balance proactively until it becomes more of the norm and less of a special initiative in any sense.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely, yeah.

Rob:
So it’s a progressive action. I think we’ve covered some great stuff so far through this. There’s a lot more that we could continue talking about and I know some of our participants are triggering some other questions as they come through. I’m just reading some that are coming in live here, Fiona. There’s an interesting one here about the top levels of management being those that can provide influence. Other questions there about the subcontractors and those that are doing the hiring on their indirect workforce on major projects. Any thoughts there around how that might need to be, or how that can be addressed to ensure there’s a level of inclusion across these major projects as well.

Fiona Doherty:
I think one of the things I should qualify when I say top level management, I mean top level management with any company, so somebody owns a company at the end of the day, and that can be a subcontractor as well-

Rob:
[inaudible 00:51:13].

Fiona Doherty:
The management within those companies as well. Yeah you can certainly have quotas and mandates on major project sites, which again is driven by the client and having gender on the tender, is again a very important progression as well. So when we say it comes from top level, the first top level on any major project’s the client and they need to drive those initiatives and that then needs to trickle down to the management of all the other companies to make sure that that happens. So those back to back agreements between the client, the contract and then subcontractors.

Rob:
Yeah, it’s good. So Fiona, as we think about wrapping things up today, I’m keen to ask you for a takeaway from your perspective around what you feel the future of the industry will look like and perhaps paint a vision for that from both a technology and a diversity of the workforce. What does that look like? And what’s the timelines that you see around that and the key milestones that might be there?

Fiona Doherty:
I was actually hoping you’d ask me what my final takeaway would be and I was going to say maybe chips and a meat pie from a chippy in Coventry.

Rob:
I thought you said chips and gravy then.

Fiona Doherty:
Chips and gravy, yeah. Look, I can either be the optimist or the pessimist here and I’ll go for the former. The optimist in me is seeing that it is changing and as we gather pace, let’s aim for that 25 by ’25. That’s not very far off. We’ve got four years to get there. It’s ambitious to say that I think the momentum is gathering. As you said, there’s a major skill shortage and there will be the technology that we adopt over the next between 4 to 10 years I think will assist us in some of the roles and getting a more diverse workforce, absolutely. Yeah, definitely.

Rob:
That’s good. 25 by ’25. It’s an easy one for us all to remember and to work towards. So those are good things. Anything else in the closing statement around what people should do, can do to help influence that evolution of our culture in the industry?

Fiona Doherty:
Yeah, I mean one of the things, one piece of advice to everybody is never stop learning either. Never stop, never stop having a passion for something and never stop learning. I mean I have to sit back and go, why am I talking about technology? I’ve just got my new Samsung, I still don’t know how to use it. It’s something that fascinates me as I said, with little Spot the Dog obsession. So it’s something that fascinates me. I’ve seen in my career going from pen on paper to somebody typing up a bill of quantities to the way we work now. A lot of people of my vintage have seen that crossover between using a pen and pencil to go to full technology and so it’s fascinating to see how it’s adapting. I can’t afford to sit here as a professional and go, I’ll just leave that to somebody else. So I think we’re at a very different point in workforce as well is that I’m learning off people, off graduates who are coming into the industry as well because they’re more tech savvy. So there’s a two way learning experience now as well, which is great, and yeah, never stop learning.

Rob:
That’s very, very sage advice. I think the opportunity for everyone to participate in that evolution is evident. I think it’s going to be a really interesting few years ahead as we get towards that goal of 25 in ’25 as well.

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely. Let’s get out there and do it.

Rob:
Absolutely. Yeah, I think there’s a good chance for it with the amount of work that we’ve got across the industry. That’s wonderful. Look, thank you so much for your time today Fiona. I think it was great to have the opportunity to expand on some of these topics that we both got involved in in that article on The Fifth Estate and I think there’s a good chance to continue this and revisit it in the future as well.

Fiona Doherty:
Yeah, absolutely. I think first of all I’ve probably used the word absolutely too many times but yeah, I’d love to continue this conversation. As I say, I’m going to miss our weekly chats we’ve had over the past little while.

Rob:
[inaudible 00:56:03].

Fiona Doherty:
Absolutely. Don’t say the word. Look, I think it is going to be an interesting 5 to 10 years as I’ll be getting the twilight of my career in probably 10 years time, to see how things are going to change within that timeline, it’s very exciting.

Rob:
No, absolutely. Thank you. You’ve got me doing it now. Thank you and look, encourage everyone to visit NAWIC and get a better understanding of what NAWIC are doing and support their initiatives and understand their efforts and of course, we’d love to see you visit InEight.com as well and continue to provide your feedback, not just on our webinars but also on this topic if there’s an opportunity to keep the conversation going and you’ve got some thoughts around that then do let us know and we’d be happy to see where we might bring not just Fiona back but some other participants as well and keep that conversation moving. It’s certainly very current and there’s a lot of change to come in the next 12 months and beyond.

Fiona Doherty:
Yeah, obviously happy to take questions, you can find me on LinkedIn as well. Either through LinkedIn, NAWIC or RLB.

Rob:
Awesome.

Fiona Doherty:
Thank you.

Rob:
Well thank you very much. Thanks Fiona. Thank you everyone for joining us today and look forward to talking to you all next time. Thank you.

Fiona Doherty:
Cheers, thanks.