I’ve had a few lucky days in my life. I had another one just last week.

Over the past few years, I’ve been a mentor in—and massive advocate for—the Civil Contractors Federation NSW’s Women in Civil Program. And last week I met my next mentee, Taylor.

A lucky day, indeed.

Taylor is a fascinating young woman. Bright, energetic, loyal, hardworking and a real go-getter—all attributes suited to working in civil. I feel like she was born for it but her journey into the industry was completely accidental. If not for a particularly insightful high school careers advisor who knew a thing or two about civil, Taylor never would have found us, nor we her.

Lucky for us.

Some people aren’t suited to school. Actually, I think it’s the other way around—schools are often not suited to all kinds of people. People like Taylor. Maybe even me. But shortly after that fortunate encounter with the careers advisor, even though she didn’t really know what ‘civil’ was, Taylor found herself with an apprenticeship in a brilliant civil business run by an absolute gentleman who sensed the same qualities in her that I do.

From the moment she got there, she knew it was just where she wanted to be.

Taylor is one of only a few women in their business, and absolutely the first young woman there brought on as an apprentice. I doubt she’ll be the last.

“No-one ever came to school to talk about opportunities for girls in areas like civil. I was so lucky to have it presented to me,” Taylor told me when we met for the first time.

Women are massively underrepresented in the high-demand labour areas of our industry. And as I’ve pointed out before, the civil industry can be a brilliant place for women to forge long, highly rewarding and interesting careers. Particularly for those with Taylor’s can-do approach to, well, pretty much everything she sinks her teeth into.

I’m so thrilled that Taylor was nominated for the mentoring program by her company’s HR Manager, Leanne. I owe her a debt of thanks, too.

The Women in Civil Program has two goals:

  • To boost the number of women involved in the civil contracting industry
  • To provide an environment of support for women and encourage them to join and remain in the NSW civil construction and maintenance industry

There’s no ‘right’ way to mentor someone. I’m sure there are plenty of ‘wrong’ ways, but there’s no single right way, that’s for sure. All the CCF Women in Civil mentors I know do it differently. And given that it’s a dynamic process between people, no two mentoring experiences are the same.

Some mentor-mentee pairs are happy to connect by phone or Zoom. I prefer to see people in the flesh, to see their workplaces, to introduce myself to the boss, and build relationships through my mentee’s immediate support network. Not only do I like meeting all of these new people, but it really helps ensure we’re all aligned behind the mentee as she sets out on this sometimes uncomfortable journey.

For me, Taylor is CCF mentee number three. I learned plenty from those before her. And I have no doubt this go-getter will also teach me a thing or two.

2021 is going to be an exciting year for everyone in the CCF NSW Women in Civil Mentoring Program. The time for mentoring is now.

I look forward to getting to work with her, setting (and smashing) goals, learning more about what makes her tick, and mapping out an exciting career in civil.

And with a little luck, I might even convince the boss to paint a machine for her. To show that they too support ‘Woman In Civil’. It’s just a coloured machine, I know, but to us ladies it really means so much to feel recognised and empowered by this amazing industry.