Felicity Glenie, civil engineer

Felicity_Glenie.jpgIf being officially singled out as a future leader is a heavy burden, it’s one that Felicity Glenie carries lightly.

Glenie was named the 2008 Contractors’ Federation Shell Leader of Tomorrow at last year’s federation conference and intends to use her $3000 prize-money to take part in a course to develop her leadership skills.

The 27-year-old Fletcher Construction civil engineer says she was mildly taken aback when someone in the company suggested she enter for the award. She believed she had only an outside chance of success and was very surprised to win.

“The award has definitely increased my profile both within the company and beyond,” she says.

“At this stage I haven’t been looking for any different doors to open. But I’ve had a lot of people comment on it, which has been nice.”

Glenie initially wanted to go into design work, did a summer internship with Connell Wagner then another internship with Fletcher. She decided that being involved in construction was rewarding, obtained bachelor of engineering and commerce degrees at the University of Auckland, and went on to earn a masters in engineering.

She joined Fletcher four-and-a-half years ago and has spent one of those years with Fletcher subsidiary Brian Perry Civil. Her first project tossed her in at the deep end – two and a half years on the award-winning central motorway junction.

“It was a pretty complicated job and difficult, with traffic-management issues and stakeholder issues to deal with, which was quite challenging for a first job,” Glenie says.

“The most challenging aspect was the advanced traffic-management variation – working six months of night-shift straight. We managed to complete the variation on time and ahead of budget.”

She is currently responsible for the construction of a service centre at the $45 million Project Eastport Golden Bay cement-storage facility on Auckland’s waterfront. The centre is due to be completed early next year.

Asked about job likes and dislikes, Glenie says she really enjoys working with different types of people from varied backgrounds and being able to watch a project push through to completion, just as she doesn’t enjoy the construction industry’s long hours.

Work demands can make it difficult to have a social life, “but as long as you really enjoy what you’re doing that makes up for some of the difficulties. Things have got easier as I’ve gone further on and have learned more and become better at managing myown time”.

Does she feel she has to work that little bit harder and better to earn the same amount of recognition a man would? Glenie ponders the question carefully. “I think sometimes you do. Quite often I end up with people not expecting me to understand very much about construction. It feels like I sometimes have to explain myself more than most people would need to.”

But it’s not a major quibble and she says she’s been very lucky with mentors at Fletcher Construction. “The company sets you up with a mentor when you first start and I’ve been lucky enough to develop other mentors whom I’ve worked with previously. They’re able to guide me and give me advice when I need it.

“In the future I think it would be great if there were more females who are able to be in these kinds of positions to mentor graduates well. I’ve recently been doing some work with Futureintech, an IPENZ organisation which encourages school children into science and technology education.”

Glenie’s long-term aim is to be project manager on a large infrastructure undertaking. Pressed, she admits it would be “great” to reach the managerial ranks, but adds: “The project managers we have on sites are very well advanced through the company anyway. But I would be quite interested in having a go at a new-business role.”

Next: Jennifer Wells, crane operator

Contractor Vol.33  No.4  May 2009
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