Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. It is a perfect opportunity to take a moment to think about how we can work together to create a better world – one that is more inclusive and diverse. Here at GEOCON, brilliant women play frontline roles. Take Jemma Butt, for instance. Jemma recently started as one of our Project Engineers and brings her many years of experience in construction to the role.

The theme for International Women’s Day is Be Bold For Change. We sat down with Jemma to see how she takes this on in her work.

In her own words, ‘I first started working in the construction industry during my school holidays. Since then I’ve finished my Degree in Building and Construction Management at the University of Canberra, and at the same time I got to work on projects around Australia and overseas. I was involved in Australian Institute of Builders (AIB), and was part of the founding committee of the Young Builders Alliance in the ACT. In 2015 I was fortunate to receive an AIB Professional Excellence Award for my work on the Christmas Island Health Services Extension in 2015 at the ACT and National awards. I was the first woman to receive this award from the ACT Chapter of the AIB, which is pretty cool but I think means we either need to do a better job of recognising women’s achievements in the industry, or we need to be giving them more opportunities at a level where they can get recognition at the same level as the blokes. I have loved the past 10 years I’ve spent in the construction industry; I’ve worked with some great people on a very diverse range of projects from commercial fitouts and hospitals, to blast-resistant walls and the Christmas Island Jetty extension.’

What attracted you to GEOCON?

The desire to work on big projects with teams that are driven, have high expectations, and who achieve the best outcomes for projects.

If you had a chat with 10-year-old you, what would you tell her about your job?

It’s hard work but it’s great fun.

What would you tell a young woman to encourage her to enter the construction industry?

Just go for it!!! You will meet some really great people, and get to see parts of buildings that no one else does.

When did you decide you wanted to be an engineer?

I think it was when I was working on a project at Majura, the final rush to get it over the line and being part of that team. It was a really good feeling.

Who was a role model for you growing up?

My parents and grandparents: they worked hard and ran their own businesses, were involved in the community, but they knew how to relax have fun.

In the construction industry, I would say Gesa Ruge. She was tough as a lecturer at Uni and had high expectations, but she was also very supportive of anyone who had a desire to be in the construction industry and was willing to put in some effort. She ran her own business and had experience on big projects, while balancing family and continuing studies.

What is your favourite part of working in construction?

Being part of a team and understanding how the final product comes together.

To you, what is being bold?

Putting yourself outside your comfort zone.

What has been your bold moment?

I think that’s hard to pin down, there’s probably been a few in the last few years. Moving to Christmas Island by myself at 23 to set up a site and relationships with the local subcontractors was a big one. The other one would be trying something new in the industry and joining the GEOCON team!

You can learn more about International Women’s Day here.

At GEOCON, we are incredibly proud of the women in our work force and to celebrate today, our senior leadership team and other senior executives will be attending the YWCA International Women’s Day morning tea at the ACT Legislative Assembly and also the UN Women’s lunch to celebrate IWD. We will continue to encourage our women to Be Bold For Change!



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