When I started this blog, I had no idea the direction that this was going to follow. I only knew that I loved sharing the journey we were on with our home, and that I wanted to educate those considering building or renovating. What I didn’t know was yet to come, was the opportunity to meet so many wonderful like minded women working the in the construction industry. Furthermore, I am now blessed to be able to give those women a voice, in the form of an opportunity to share their own “Trade” story which has the extra bonus of encouraging so many other women with their experiences. Recently I put the call out in one of the many Facebook groups I am a member of, for women working in the industry, to share their story with us, and today’s guest Kimberly Jones answered the call. I love Kimberly’s story of such determination and strength. Sometimes it takes a while to find what you love, but when you do, it is worth perusing as Kimberly shares here. Enjoy!
My Trade Story With Kimberly Jones
Could You Introduce Yourself and Let Us Know What You Do.
My name is Kimberley Jones. I am a business owner, wife, mother to two young children plus a few dogs, cats and horses! Born, raised and living in Brisbane. I have been working in the construction industry for 10 years now and I currently run our family construction company, EPS Built, with my husband and father. For EPS Built I am in charge of all things office related including contracts, accounts, setting up systems required for a new and growing company, payroll and a bit of everything else! When not working or avoiding house chores, I enjoy travelling and have a long list of places I would love to visit.
Please Share A Little Of What Led You To Your Chosen Career?
After school, I spent time travelling before starting a degree in Town Planning. I did one semester and decided that wasn’t the course for me. I worked in various jobs and did some more travelling. I was interested in the construction industry and drawn to the variedness of the work, not doing exactly the same thing day after day appealed to me and the view that it was an industry that would provide long-term job prospects. At 23 years old I started a bachelor of Property and Sustainable Development majoring in Construction Management and Quantity Surveying at Bond University. From the outset I was interested in Construction Management and this is where I saw my career going. However once working in the industry, I decided to focus on Contracts Administration as this role seemed to be more suitable down the track to combine with being a mother.
How Did You Go About Finding Your First Job/Apprenticeship?
Whilst still at Uni I started a building cadetship with Pradella Constructions which I applied for through a construction recruitment agency. The cadetship involved working very long hours (which is standard of this industry) and attending Uni in between work. The idea of the cadetship is to provide an opportunity to experience several different roles within the construction company over the space of a couple of years.
What Was Your Experience Those First Few Years?
During my cadetship I worked in the site office assisting the Senior Contracts Administrator as well as the Project Manager. I also had times where I was tasked with jobs out on site working with the foreman, site manager, labourers or subcontractors. My first project with Pradella was Parklands at Sherwood. It was a great introduction to the industry as it was quite a varied residential project in that it was made up of a mixture of houses, town houses, two apartment buildings, a community centre, pool, extensive landscaping and a large acoustic wall along the train corridor. I got to see and learn a lot on that first project which took just under two years from start of construction onsite to practical completion. I was lucky to have an excellent project manager who despite being extremely busy was always approachable and made time to help me understand the processes and what was going on if I had questions or was unsure of something. I also worked very closely alongside our senior contracts administrator who was great to work with. I learnt about document control, subcontracts and head contracts, how to assess and process subcontractor progress claims and variations, understanding the payment act, head contract claims and variations, client purchaser variations, how to read and understand and measure off plans, write scopes of work and compile tender packages for all trades, interview subcontractors and assess tenders, cost reporting, and so much more. After I finished my cadetship I remained at Pradella and worked as a Contracts Administrator. My next project was Waters Edge – Reach and Drift buildings on the river at West End. Reach and Drift were two 7 story apartment buildings with shared double level basement. Waters Edge project had the same project team that had worked on Parklands at Sherwood and I was fortunate to continue to learn from my project team. When Waters Edge finished after 18 months I was moved from the site office up to Pradella’s head office to work with the Contracts Manager and Construction Manager. It was quite a change going from a dusty, noisy site donga or basement site office with a constant stream of subbies coming in and out all day and background noise of piling, or banging; to being on the top floor of a new, clean, quiet , office building with views of the City! Where my first four years at Pradella focused on the construction of a projects from start to finish on site, at head office I worked on the very initial stages of a construction project working on feasibilities, budget pricing and estimating, and early works tendering. Over the next few years I worked on several apartment projects in West End; Canvas, Light & Co, Gardens Riverside and Skyneedle. I also worked on a few industrial projects at Narangba for Pradella as contracts administrator/project manager. Where the apartment projects had construction values of up to $60 million dollars, the industrial warehouse projects were much smaller in value, between $2 – $4 million construction cost. The project team on the warehouse builds was just myself and a site manager plus our subcontractors. It gave me a chance to be more hands on in managing trades and timelines onsite and also dealing with the local authorities such as Urban Utilities, Local Council and QLD Fire to liaise for building approvals. I worked for Pradella for just under ten years and in that time had two children so for the latter half of my time with Pradella I worked three days a week and not full time. Working part time in my role did have its challenges as you wanted to be at work enough to still have responsibilities on a project whilst finding the balance of also having enough time at home to be with your growing children. I would have loved to continue working for Pradella but we decided to start our own construction company so I moved onto new challenges of running our own business.
Where Do You See Yourself In 5 Years?
Our construction company is in its infancy at the moment; having been operating for around 14 months so it has had several teething issues as is expected when establishing something from nothing. We currently have ten people employed in EPS Built and utilise subcontractor’s when needed. In five years’ time I would like to see EPS Built firmly established and flourishing as a company. In my view a flourishing company doesn’t mean for us to have grown to a large company as that is not our vision. I would hope that in five years’ time all our systems and structures are established, we have a core group of employees who love working with us and have been with us for several years, and our clients are return customers because they love our professional and quality work that we provide them every time!
What Changes Do You Believe Are Needed In The Construction Industry?
This isn’t really a change needed within the industry but I would like for the end user to become more educated. More often than not, someone seeking the services of a construction company wants the cheapest quote. If that person doesn’t have much knowledge of the industry, they may not realise that the quotes they received are not apples for apples. What may appear cheap in the first instance may have actually excluded several items. Or one company has allowed inferior products. The end user should check to see that the companies providing quotes are licensed and insured. Ask to see examples of the company’s previous work. A company who provides quality work with happy customers will be more than happy to arrange for you to view it and speak to past customers. It costs a company more money to employ knowledgeable and professional people, have the correct licenses and registrations, proper insurances and safety systems etc. These costs have to be passed down the line for a company to be viable. So whilst the end user may want the cheapest quote, will they be getting people with years of experience and a quality job? Will the job be well managed, run on schedule and on budget? Companies/people working without the correct licences, insurances and safety systems will generally be able to provide a cheaper quote as they aren’t carrying the same overheads. The end user needs to ask questions of each company they get quotes from as price should not be the only thing that is considered.
What Number One Lesson Would You Share With Women Thinking Of A Career In Construction?
Don’t be too intimidated to have a go and ask questions. Most people are happy to explain things if you don’t know what it is or understand why something is being done like it is. Especially in a role like Contracts Administration where you have general knowledge of several trades but are an expert on none. Take the opportunity to learn more from the specialist trades people that you deal with. The good people in the industry outweigh the bad ones by far. Over my ten years in the industry, I have only met a handful of people that had a problem that I was female (or perhaps they just didn’t like me!) and would always try and go above me to my manager rather than dealing with me. I was fortunate that my managers didn’t entertain this and simply told the person if they couldn’t go through the correct channels (which was me as the Contracts Administrator) then they wouldn’t be able to work with us on the project. For majority of my career I haven’t felt that gender factored highly in the role I was doing in the industry.
I am really interested in any struggles you faced and how you overcame them. If there is not a question that would prompt that, could you please let me know and I will try to find another question to fit the bill.
Majority of my struggles are not directly related to the construction industry rather stemming from being a working mother. I enjoy working and like to do my job well. I returned to work part time when my first child was four months old, and returned after six months with my second child. In hindsight I would have taken a bit more time off work after my first child was born and enjoyed that time more as it does go so fast. It was my choice to return to work. I enjoy the environment, interaction and challenges that my job brings. However post children, you don’t have the luxury of being able to stay back or put in the hours you did prior to having children which often left me feeling like I needed to be doing better at work. I often felt conflicted when I wanted to finish something I was working on, but also wanted to go home and see my children. I have had situations where I have had to leave meetings that were running late as I had to pick up the kids from day-care. It doesn’t feel very professional when you up and leave halfway through a meeting but someone has to get the kids before day-care closes! With my husband also working in the construction industry and sometimes working away from home, I didn’t always have someone else I could call to pick them up for me if I had to stay back at work. You have to find a balance that works. When working at Pradella they were supportive and flexible after I had children which was wonderful. I am very fortunate that I have a lot of family help with my children so that did make it easier to continue working, especially on days when the kids were sick, I could drop them over to my In-Laws and still go to work. Of course I still got the mum guilts at times when the kids cried at drop off but most of the time my children were happy to go to day-care or Grandparents houses’. Now we run our own business I have a greater flexibility with my hours and can work them around my children a little bit more which has been great.
I just love the opportunity to share stories like Kimberly’s, thank you for sharing your journey. If you would like to know more about Kimberly or her company you can find them at their website, EPS Built, on Facebook and Instagram.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Please leave a comment for me to get in touch with you.