In MBM’s third instalment of our International Women’s Day Women in Construction series, we sat down with Senior Tax Quantity Surveyor Kerrie Burbridge.


What inspired you to pursue a career in the construction industry?

I chose to pursue a career in the construction industry mainly because my Dad was a Quantity Surveyor (QS). From an early age, my sister and I would be given take offpaper and plans to use for drawing and colouring. From those early days, I understood what a plan was used for and how to use a scale ruler. During school holidays, my time would be spent at the office filing invoices, folding plans, and ‘helping’ with checking take offs and measurements. 


When it came time to choose what I wanted to do after secondary school and contemplating various careers, I realised that what I should pursue what was staring me in the face all along I should study quantity surveying and here I am, thirty years later, still a QS. 


What aspects of your work do you find the most fulfilling?

As a Quantity Surveyor in MBM’s tax team, we provide a range of services. Our work varies from tax depreciation reports and asset registers for property acquisitions, fit outs and construction, analyses of annual property capital expenditure, and insurance replacement cost assessments. I enjoy all aspects of my work, though End of Financial Year can be quite busy and stressful.  


The most fulfilling aspect of my work at MBM is the opportunity to work with a great group of individuals who work as a team to achieve goals. Our weekly meetings allow us to discuss our individual and shared workload, manage our time, and help each other out. As a team, we share knowledge, learn from each other, and collectively achieve our objectives. Our work varies between being interesting, stressful, difficult and (dare I say) easy, but I believe its the people that you work with who make going to work enjoyable on the good days and bearable on the not so good ones.  


What construction industry shifts and trends are you excited about?

As both a citizen of the world and a Quantity Surveyor, any movement towards sustainable construction materials, processes, and sustainable design is exciting as well as essential 


The construction industry has an important role to play in the future of our cities and homes. The design and construction of buildings should reflect the importance of sustainability in the choices made in the design. The objectives  to reduce the reliance on artificial heating and cooling; installation of solar panels, reducing the need to access power from the grid’; design of fit outs to optimise the utilisation of natural light; installation of green spaces to enhance work areas, reduce noise pollution, and ensure the provision of clean the air and the considered selection of sustainable construction materials that acknowledge natural resource depletion and whole of life environmental cost. 


Do you have any mentors and how have they inspired you to overcome adversity?

I’ve always worked with people who have been very supportive and generous with their time and knowledge, giving me opportunities to use my skills and try new roles. Most importantly, as the primary care giver in our family, I have been able to work flexible hours which has enabled me to continue working as a quantity surveyor. 


Over the thirty or so years that I have been working in quantity surveying, I have had various mentors who have encouraged and supported me in my various roles. My most important mentor was undoubtedly my dad who never discouraged me from being a quantity surveyor. He helped me to feel comfortable working in the construction industry and was always available when I had queries or needed to discuss how to approach difficult situations 


The QLD government have a target to reach 11% women in trade construction roles by 2050. How do you think the industry can encourage more women to join and thrive in construction?

Encouraging females to join the construction industry begins way back in primary school. Providing opportunities for girls to be involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is essential 


As they move through school, we need to encourage and educate girls regarding the many rewarding and fulfilling STEM-related careers. The more girls are provided with opportunities to hear from women who work in STEM careers, the more normal it will seem to choose a career in these fields. 


The construction industry can encourage more women to participate by aiming recruitment at high school students and promoting construction as a viable career. At the university level, there should be networking opportunities between female students of all year levels to encourage females to join and remain in a construction related field of study. Additionally, a balance of male and female lecturers and opportunities for students to meet with females working in the construction industry would be beneficial. 


What has been the highlight of your professional career?

The highlight of my professional career has been the opportunity to travel, live in, and work as a quantity surveyor in many countries including Malaysia, Hong Kong, Eswatini (Swaziland), and Bahrain. When starting out as a quantity surveyor, I would never have thought I would experience the opportunity to work and travel in my career.  


My highlight would be the time I spent in Hong Kong seconded to the Airport Authority as a Contract Administrator (CA) working on site during the construction of the Hong Kong Airport at Chek Lap Kok. I was CA for two fit out contracts in the terminal building: the first being the suspended ceilings, and the second being painting and decorating. At the time, I was working with a great team of quantity surveyors, architects, and project managers. It was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in an important and prestigious project. 


What advice would you offer to someone considering a career in construction?

If someone were considering a career in construction, I would tell them what I have told my children: working as a quantity surveyor has provided me with a very interesting, happy, and fulfilling career. Sometimes, as with all jobs, the work can be stressful and you will doubt your ability and skills, and sometimes you will make mistakes. But most of the time you will be busy, engaged, and there will always be something new to learn.  


A career in the construction industry provides many benefits including the opportunity to work in a team environment, career progression, flexible work hours, continual learning, and the opportunity to travel.


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