Abbey Burns: alumni profile
What has been your path since graduating from CCGS in 2016?
My path since graduating from CCGS has been busy, a little bumpy at times but forever exciting! In February 2017 I commenced a Bachelor of Construction Project Management and International Studies at University of Technology Sydney. By July 2017 I was employed as an undergraduate project coordinator for a Sydney construction company through a cadet program (paid internship).
How did I balance this? My degree expected 200 days of industry experience prior to graduating so our timetables were flexible and consisted of one full weekday and one night class (or weekend) to manage studying and working fulltime. While it was customary to gain this experience in your final years, I was driven to commence my career and it felt right to defer my international studies component and focus on studying/working fulltime (and having a personal life).
I graduated with Honours in November 2020 and currently work as a Contract Administrator for Mainbrace Constructions, a company specialising in retail and logistic construction.
What do you love about your industry?
I love the project based nature of this industry. I love that it is tangible, fast paced and chaotic. As a contract administrator, my responsibilities are diverse and I am generally involved from design to client handover so it is an expeditious operation and never boring.
I am passionate about the opportunities available for women in construction and how supportive both men and women are in achieving this growth. Communication is the most integral part of any industry, but I love that I have a voice in construction and have recognised the importance of speaking up about issues, including women's rights.
You work in what could be described as a typically male dominated industry, what has your experience been like as a woman carving her way in this field?
My experience as a young female in the construction industry has been incredibly rewarding, fulfilling and eye opening, there is certainly no hiding the lack of diversity. I can honestly say it has been difficult at times, particularly for a young person starting out in a new industry, but if you show passion, work ethic and a little enthusiasm you can create a great foundation (no pun intended).
When you put a female in a male dominated team, the ideas, skillsets and opportunity that is contributed is highly valued and embraced. While it can be intimidating being the only female in a room, the response, most of the time, is encouraging and welcoming. Like many industries you do need a thick skin to work in this field, but through challenging stereotypes I have learnt you do not need to be the loudest, most outspoken person in the room to achieve the same result.
The best advice I ever received was always be yourself and not to succumb to any masculine pressures to fit in. As long as you can perform your role there should be no expectations on what gender you are. I am excited to see the future of women in construction and proud to be part of an evolving industry.
What are you passionate about?
Overall I'd say I am passionate about design, law and commerce. It wasn't until I completed one semester of Uni I knew construction had everything I wanted in a career. One day I am working with architects on buildability and the next day I am negotiating contracts, I wish I knew this was what working in construction involved during school!
Outside of work I love a weekend away, watching the footy and being active.
What CCGS experience or achievement most prepared you for where you are today?
Challenging myself and stepping out of my comfort zone is an attribute CCGS prepared me for. I participated in an abundance of extra curricular activities, from exchange to sports tours, debating and weekend sport, all which have encouraged me to be more courageous and have certainly inspired me to try unexpected things, such as working in construction.
What is one piece of advice you would give to your high school self?
My biggest advice would be to not put so much pressure on myself to follow a 'normal' path. Whilst I did go to Uni straight after school and finished my course as per the program, I realised once you leave school all paths are different and you just need to pave one that is crafted to your needs and aspirations.
Also, I would advise my high school self to wear more sunscreen.