After receiving an extraordinary 1,100 nominations, the Property Council reveals the 500 Women in Property participants for 2019. We check in with three of these talented property professionals on their way up.
500 Women in Property, sponsored by The GPT Group and launched last week, harnesses people power to grow the industry’s talent pipeline.
Now in its fourth year, 500 Women in Property encourages established leaders – women and men – to identify and sponsor emerging female talent in their organisations or business spheres.
The national program expanded from 100 Women in Property just four years ago and is now capped at 500 women and 500 sponsors. With the program oversubscribed in 2019, participants for 2020 have also been confirmed.
One of the participants this year is Anja Muller Mynhardt (pictured right), a project controls manager with Turner & Townsend in the ACT.
Mynhardt has been at the coalface of construction for more than two decades, starting “at a very low level as I was a young single mother and desperate for a good job,” she explains.
After a few years working in a variety of project controls and commercial roles for construction firms in Africa, Mynhardt fell in love with the work and the people. A diploma in financial and human resource management was followed by a Masters’ degree in project management, with professional registrations in cost engineering and contract management.
Mynhardt fast-tracked her career by “putting my hand up for anything”, whether that was a multi-project pipeline project in South Africa, a railway project in Mozambique or windfarms in Kenya.
As her career took off, Mynhardt juggled the challenges of construction with family life, raising her son and her nephew. Last year, she applied for work in Australia “never thinking I’d get such an amazing opportunity” and now finds herself living in Canberra and commuting to Cooma each week to work on Snowy Hydro 2.0.
“Last year was the best year of my life,” she says proudly, adding that both her boys are now studying property and construction management at the University of Canberra.
Closing the gap
What does a program like 500 Women in Property mean?
“Only 12 per cent of the construction industry is female. There’s still a huge gender gap,” Mynhardt says.
“But the industry has changed a lot over the last few years and women can have their own styles and be successful, as long as they are dedicated, hard-working and seize opportunities,” she says.
“When I went to school, girls never thought of careers in construction. I want to encourage young girls to join our industry. It’s so rewarding being able to say: ‘I helped build that’. I know I make a difference in the industry and that other females can also make a difference,” Mynhardt adds.
Katie Brown (pictured top) celebrated her fourth year with Aurecon last month. After joining the firm as a graduate structural engineer, Brown has worked on diverse and dynamic projects – from residential apartments to a theme park in Dubai. She now works as a design manager, leading multidisciplinary design teams to deliver a portfolio of projects for Defence around Australia.
Brown says 500 Women in Property is a chance for her to “role model for the emerging professionals within our business”.
“Aurecon’s Australia and New Zealand managing director is fond of a saying ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’, which has really resonated with me. Having role models during my career has encouraged me to believe in my capabilities and stretch myself, and I hope to provide this support and be a role model for others,” Brown says.
“It is no secret that there is an under representation of women in the industry, so I would like to use my experience to advocate and empower women to not only pursue a career in the property industry but also see their leadership potential in their chosen field,” Brown adds.
Ellie Johnston (pictured left), a trainee property valuer with Knight Frank in Hobart, began her career in retail and customer service roles, before choosing to study property at university.
“I was always interested in property and I had a good idea of what a career as a valuer would be like,” she explains as her father is also a property valuer with 30 years of practice under his belt.
Johnston landed a trainee role with Knight Frank last year while still finishing off the last few units of her degree, and says “I feel like I really fit in, and it’s where I’m meant to be”.
When Knight Frank partner Matthew Page suggested she put her hand up for 500 Women in Property, Johnston jumped at the chance.
“I see it as a great opportunity to network, build knowledge and meet others in the industry, especially women. Property has been a male dominated industry in the past, so it’s great to see more women show how it’s done.”
500 Women in Property participants are now gearing up for a year of networking, profiling and career building opportunities. All participants and sponsors for 2019 will be available on the 500 Women in Property website from 18 March. And check out the key dates around Australia.