“It’s the best thing ever. I’ve got a family and two young boys, so there’s no way I could have done it if I had to travel to and from classes.”
We caught up with Kirsty O’Connor, a full-time building supervisor who’s studying her Certificate IV in Building and Construction via our virtual classroom. To find out how Kirsty’s journey lead her here, and how she manages work and study, read the whole interview below.
Name: Kirsty O’Connor
Job: Building Supervisor at Simonds Homes
“At 23, I moved to Queensland with my husband for a bit of a lifestyle change, and I got a job in a call centre for a building company. I worked my way through there and at about 26 I came back to Melbourne. I was a sales rep and Simonds became one of my clients. I was really interested in the building and construction industry, so recently I decided to make a change and become a building supervisor.”
“I enjoy the client interaction. I also enjoy being involved in construction and visiting the sites. From start to finish, building a home is a big journey. It’s exciting to deal with a lot of different people: suppliers, trades, and the clients. There’s nothing more exciting for me than seeing what starts as a patch of dirt become somebody’s dream. That’s exciting.”
“I start pretty early with the tradies at seven o’clock in the morning, and it all depends where I’m at and what stage the houses are at. The typical day is to go to each home, up to 15 homes each day, speak with the trades, follow up suppliers to make sure the hardware has arrived on site, and confirm that the trades are ready.”
“From then on it’s all about keeping in contact with the clients: letting them know the progress of the build and meeting them on site to take them through the build. I’m the middle person between the guys who are building it and the people who will live here. They put a lot of trust in me to get their dream built. I try and make them feel as comfortable and as involved as I can.”
“I’m studying my Certificate IV in Building and Construction via the virtual classroom. It’s the best thing ever. I’ve got a family and two young boys, so to be able to have the kids at home at 6 o’clock, go into the office and do what I need to do, and finish by 9 o’clock is great. There’s no way I could have done it if I had to travel to and from classes. To be able to just do it at home is perfect.”
“The kids feel part of it as well, they’ll come into the office and sit down as well. They don’t feel that mum is off at work again. I’m right there.”
“The guys online are fantastic. It feels the same as sitting in a classroom where there’s lots of interaction. If you miss a class, it is all recorded anyway so then you can just catch up. If I miss a Wednesday night I can sit there on a Thursday afternoon, jump online, and listen to the whole course there. It’s good to have that flexibility.”
“I’ve forever got girls coming up to me and asking me, ‘How do I get into it?’ Being a chick in the industry sometimes can get a bit tough. Sometimes the boys will say something just to test me to see if I have the answer or not.
“I don’t think you can come into a male-dominated industry and pretend to be a male, but in the same sense you’ve gotta get that respect. Once you have the respect, there’s no problems at all. Most tradies are my age so they are used to more females being around. It’s not what it used to be.”
“It’s about confidence and knowledge. I tell the girls, get as much knowledge as you can before you head into the industry. You don’t have to know everything but the Certificate IV is perfect because it gives you the ground knowledge. If you have got the background knowledge you can move forward.
“Communication and respect is important. I’ve always worked in a male-dominated industry and I’ve always made sure that I’ve shown respect to the trades. In turn, I ask for the same thing. I think that’s the biggest thing. Be confident. Once you show that confidence, it’s a two-way street from the start.”
Legend! Thanks Kirsty.