Valentina Grbic completed her Cadetship with St Hilliers and is now part of a team delivering multiple projects for the Department of Defence as a Contract Administrator. We are extremely proud of her achievements to date and there is certainly a bright future ahead for this young star!
Valentina took some time to speak with us about her experience and growth in the construction industry and we’re proud to share her story with you.
What year did you start in the Construction Industry?
I started in 2017 when I was in my first year of University.
Since then, what challenges have you encountered?
I’ve encountered many challenges, both professionally and personally. Learning construction concepts, methodologies and processes has been challenging, while also learning the art of communication with clients and subcontractors.
Thinking of your personal and personality traits prior to entering this industry, what traits do you now possess? Would you accredit this personal growth to working in a male dominated industry?
Since entering the industry, I have learnt to be more resilient and assertive. I would certainly accredit this personal growth to working in a male dominated industry.
Do you believe the construction industry is heading in a positive direction for females? If so, why?
Absolutely! I’m seeing a lot more women in managerial roles, leading projects and managing teams. This is across all aspects in construction, design and property. It is really exciting to see, particularly when you have women on the construction site!
You’ve worked for St Hilliers for nearly 3 years now, what would you say the culture is surrounding internal growth encouragement and direction success? You’ve been through the cadetship – can you please elaborate about your experience and what the process is like?
The culture at St Hilliers is extremely supportive and encouraging. The environment is very much team oriented and you are constantly given the tools to excel. Often the team will get me to assist with tasks that are out of my comfort zone, however, this is only to encourage my growth and progression.
The Cadetship Program is one of the most rewarding experiences and programs offered by St Hilliers. The way the program is constructed provides great exposure to all construction disciplines.
The program is built upon the disciplines and stages of a project, starting from Bid and Estimating, to working on site and learning Contract Administration, Safety, Design and Quality tasks and responsibilities. Through the program, I was able to be involved in each stage of the construction process, which really helped me understand and learn the concepts. This also prepared me immensely and helped me build confidence with being on site and dealing with subcontractors and clients.
I was very fortunate to be paired with incredible mentors that really cared about me and my progression, and they would go to any lengths to help me learn and excel in my career. Even if this meant sitting down with me and explaining methodologies, costs and anything I was unsure about until I clearly understood. They are truly passionate about the industry and will do anything to ensure you progress.
What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
When I’m on site, subcontractors generally avoid raising any design or project queries with me. They are likely to stay away and will advise they are waiting for the Project Engineer or Site Manager. Making the time to build relationships with subcontractors has helped with these situations.
If you could thank anyone in this industry to date, who would it be and why?
My mentors and the people who have helped and guided me on my journey to date. Since starting with the Estimating team at St Hilliers, to now transitioning to live projects, I owe it to my mentors that have dedicated time and effort in helping me learn, understand and achieve. They’ve not only helped me with construction concepts and processes, but also how to engage and communicate with subcontractors, clients and designers.
What has been your highlight since being with St Hilliers?
Completing my Cadetship then becoming a Contracts Administrator on a project from beginning to end (almost!).