Lauren tops big award night for women builders

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“CityNews” meets the women in construction recognised for their hard work in the industry. This is a sponsored post.

LAUREN Couter, project director of Construction Control, is this year’s National Association of Women in Construction ACT Crystal Vision Award winner.

Lauren Couter.

She was presented with the award at NAWIC ACT Chapter’s formal annual awards dinner for 475 guests at the National Arboretum.

Twelve awards were announced, from student and tradeswoman of the year to the Crystal Vision Award, which is the highest recognition of a woman, man, organisation or company that actively promotes and encourages participation and career progression of women in the local construction industry.

Lauren was recognised for her leadership in implementing initiatives for the betterment of women in construction as well as successfully breaking barriers for women in the construction industry.

The awards are a public forum for women in the construction industry to be championed and celebrated and give women confidence, pride and recognition, say incoming co-presidents Peita de Boer and Kim Raysmith.

They say the awards offer a chance for the women working in the construction industry to showcase their professional contributions to Australia’s largest non-service related industry, contributing $134.2 billion to the nation’s economy, and employing 1.1 million Australians.

Lauren says she feels humbled and validated by the award: “I feel I have made a difference and am reinvigorated by the experience”.

She says that over the span of her 20 years in the construction industry, she has seen positive changes from her early days going on to worksites with her father and there not being any female toilets, for example.

Lauren says: “We knew that it had to change for women. I have always been the only woman ‘in the room’ and now I’m not always the only woman!”

“I have transitioned from being the most junior civil engineer through to senior site engineer, project manager and now as project director. I now find myself being the person in the room that everyone looks to for direction and leadership,” says Lauren.

“In my early years I wasn’t shy to be on a shovel or work long hours. One of my earlier fond memories is skating a kilometre on my back down a one-metre-diameter pipe buried 10 metres deep, all in the name of quality assurance.

“Now I lead by example by demonstrating a work/life balance, and empowering women within my circle of influence.”

With numerous multi-million-dollar builds under her belt, including clients such as ANU and Canberra Girls Grammar School, Lauren says she was drawn to study civil engineering at university because she enjoyed maths and science. At the time she says she didn’t notice that there were only four per cent females in her classes.

“I was a bit naive I must admit. But now I am trying to actively change and promote the construction industry for what it can be – a vibrant and fulfilling career, in a supportive and collaborative environment,” says Lauren.

As a mother of two children, she says that she mentors others within the industry and aspires to become a voice for, and a support network for many younger and budding employees.

She also acknowledges the role that men have in championing women in the industry, such as her mentor Peter Wright, director of Construction Control who has played an influential role in her career.

“People identify me as a strong woman. NAWIC helps women in the industry have the confidence to walk into the room which is dominated by men,” she says.

Through events, awards, scholarships and programs, NAWIC aims to support women at every stage throughout their construction career, from school students to senior leaders.

National Association of Women in Construction award winners:


Nadine O’Keeffe.

Mentor of the Year (sponsored by AMA Projects)


AS GM of the diverse Built team, Nadine has committed to share her depth of industry experience in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 NAWIC CEO Shadow Programs, which aim to inspire more women to keep striving for appointment to senior leadership and executive positions. Nadine has been a strong advocate for women in construction throughout her 20-plus year career in the industry.


Achievement Award (sponsored by Built)

Elyse Howard.


ELYSE is a senior project engineer for Lendlease and is working on the Kambri Project, the largest single campus development since the establishment of the ANU. Elyse wants to create the best places for her clients and the wider community. The Kambri transformation has embedded in her the notion that well-designed and constructed places are more than buildings but destinations, meeting places and collaboration spaces.


Sarah Anne Duncan.

Tradeswoman of the Year
(sponsored by Ginninderry)


SARAH never dreamt she’d be carving out a successful career as an aviation electrician. After working at Canberra Airport for more than nine years, Sarah is loving the role and the challenges it brings.


Sarah Carroll.

Achievement in Safety Award
(sponsored by Monaro Windows)


SARAH is paving the way for a safe community at the University of Canberra through the implementation of an Online Incident Reporting Tool and Contractor Portal while mentoring students by sharing her own personal experiences and knowledge. As a busy mum and wife she shows that you can reach a suitable work-life balance and that steel cap boots look good with a baby bump.


Jane Louise Alexander.

Achievement in Design (sponsored by WSP)


JANE has been influential in the design industry for her implementation of modern work practices in Australia’s largest and most awarded workplaces. Joining Davenport Campbell in 2005, she was recognised as an associate in 2012. With experience in London, Scotland and Australia, Jane has been responsible for the successful delivery of more than 200,000sqm of workplace projects over her 18-year design career.


Roberta Brosco.

Achievement in Engineering
(sponsored by Elvin Group)


NORTHROP Consulting Engineers mechanical engineer Roberta Brosco brings her positive, can-do attitude to every project as the perfect complement to her technical skills. Roberta never shies away from a challenge, and is keen to assist clients however she can, whether a small classroom upgrade or a technically challenging large scale heritage listed upgrade.


Ntasha Krysti Gerebtzoff.

Emerging Leader (sponsored by Morris Legal Group)


AS a director and owner of two businesses in the ACT construction industry (gr8 @mosphere design & drafting and Queen Bee Constructions), Ntasha provides work opportunities to young females interested in pursuing a career within the industry. Ntasha has demonstrated her ability to lead and drive high-end project outcomes, never compromising on quality.


Nichelle Jackson.

Woman in Business (sponsored by Ignite)


NICHELLE Jackson is a director with Canberra Town Planning. She has strategic planning expertise and experience across commercial, industrial, mixed-use and residential developments, as well as major transport and water infrastructure projects, significant recreational projects and large infill developments. She has been active in the construction industry as a property valuer and government policy advisor.


Sarah Pollheim.

Innovation in the Construction Industry (sponsored by Chase Group)


A SENIOR project architect at Clarke Keller, Sarah is a registered architect with a Diploma in Interior Design and a Diploma in Project Management. Over the past 17 years she has practised in the ACT, NSW and SA, where she worked across a broad variety of sectors including retirement living, aged care, multi-storey residential, community and education.


Dulani Nanayakkara.

Capital Regional Student of the Year
(sponsored by Manteena)


AN electrical engineer with WSP in Canberra, Dulani has shown her commitment to furthering her education by studying part time through distance education at the University of Wollongong while working full time. Dulani will complete her masters of power engineering degree at the end of this year.


Manteena team.

Diversity and Inclusion Award (sponsored by Huon)


Winners are grinners… The Manteena team collects the Diversity and Inclusion Award trophy at the NAWIC ACT Chapter’s awards night dinner at the National Arboretum.


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