In MBM’s second instalment of our International Women’s Day Women in Construction series, we sat down with Executive Project Advisor Laura Berezynskyj.


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

I must be honest and say I ended up here accidentally. The beginning of my professional career exposed me to PFI/PPP contracts in the UK and Canada. My early experiences in the global construction industry were something I really enjoyed and ultimately led me to Australia and MBM. 


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

For me, the most fulfilling part of my job will always be seeing clients coming back to us or referring other organisations across to us as a result of their satisfaction with our service delivery and contributions to project outcomes. 


What construction industry shifts and trends are you excited about?

I’m excited to see sustainability in the construction industry continuing to advance and create positive change, including the development of sustainable communities. 


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

I classify my mentors into two groups: work mentors, who are employed within the same organisation as me, and accidental mentors. 


For me, each type of mentor is very important and creates benefits in different ways. My work mentors know what I am capable of from a technical standpoint, and without their support and encouragement, I’m sure the venture into establishing MBM’s permanent presence in the WA market as a young woman by myself would have been incredibly daunting and a lot less fruitful. Knowing that I have their backing helped me to develop the confidence to independently attend industry events and see that my perspectives in the industry are valued. 


My accidental mentors are people who I have met throughout my career, particularly since moving to Australia from the UK. These mentors provide me with an independent sounding board separate from day-to-day work life. In the past, these mentors have been the people I’ve called on when I’m unsure of whether the way I am perceiving a situation is correct, and they support me by discussing ways to handle challenges. For example, early in my career I sometimes struggled when several organisations would be involved in one project, and understanding whether the way that senior individuals were responding to me was appropriate as perhaps my contributions were incorrect, or whether I was being discounted for being very fresh to the industry and not having the same breadth of experience. 


The WA government have a target to increase the number of women in trade and non-traditional construction roles. How do you think the industry can encourage more women to join and thrive in construction? 

I think this question is two-dimensional: how do we attract women to the construction industry, and how do we then ensure that they stay? 


Looking at my own journey, I wouldn’t have said that I fully appreciated the breadth of roles that compose the construction industry until I was immersed in working life. Certainly, during school and university, if I’d have been asked what came to mind when I thought about construction, I would have envisaged a man in hi-vis and a hard hat. 


There is definitely more advocacy happening at universities these days which is great to see, and I’m sure investment in these initiatives will continue to strengthen. Based on conversations I’ve had, I believe there is still a bit of a gap in reaching out to high-school students to provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision about where to go next. For example, do they need a university degree, diploma, apprenticeship, and what kinds of construction careers may suit them based on what they enjoy at school – those more interested in math’s may be more inclined to enjoy quantity surveying/engineering vs those more artistically inclined may flourish in an architecture/design role. 


In terms of ensuring that women remain in the industry, a lot of the progress will come down to the individual organisations each work for and their direct team. Unfortunately, a relative majority of people in life can recall an unsupportive (and at times detrimental) co-worker or manager that they’ve worked with, including some of the talented and inspirational women I’ve met in the construction industry. I think that this can be exacerbated at times in the construction industry where, depending on the discipline and project, women can feel isolated being in what is a traditional and male-dominated industry. This is still particularly prevalent on construction sites, and though a culture shift is happening, it’s imperative that these concerns are heard and actioned to create a better work environment for everyone. 


What has been the highlight of your professional career?

The highlight of my professional career so far has definitely been seeing MBM’s Western Australia presence begin to flourish, culminating in our first WA client party at the end of 2023 and our new WA office in February 2024.


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

Reach out to people who are already in the industry. They may be people you directly know, the friend of a friend or parent, or someone you noticed on social media or at industry events. Although it may feel daunting at first, my experience is that people are always happy to help, and I think this is particularly true for most (not all) individuals who are approaching retirement as they want to be able to share their experience and learnings with the future generations. 


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