Good news story – Lendlease

Eddie Atkinson, Construction Manager at Lendlease has provided this story relating to ‘Be Inclusive’

Please provide a brief background and some context:

Lendlease joined GROW in 2020 when they won the tender for the Geelong Arts Centre because of the Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework.

As part of their GROW Action plan, they sought to establish partnerships between Northern Futures, The Gordon Tafe and People@Work to create a program that connects disadvantaged job seekers with skilling and employment opportunities.

Meanwhile Kelly, a young Uni student living in Norlane, was finishing her Masters of Infrastructure Engineering and Management whilst trying to find sustainable employment. Whilst she had completed an honours degree in Construction Management her barriers to employment included a lack of industry experience and access to reliable transport.

At that time Brooke Hyland from Jigsaw (Barwon Health) (another GROW signatory) saw an opportunity and introduced Kelly to Plan Group Geelong (another GROW signatory) where she undertook part-time work as an Estimating Assistant in early 2021. Shortly thereafter an opportunity also came up to work a few days a week with the Lendlease team at the McKellar Centre, which quickly grew into a 5-day a week role. Brooke mentored Kelly at the start assisting with the negotiations of her employment. Checking in with both the employer and Kelly helped ease the transition and reduced the anxiety of starting the new role.

As Brooke highlights, ‘I think this is an important point to mention as it resulted in the long-term outcome. If more employers allowed this hands-on mentoring, I believe we would see greater outcomes with the cohorts we are trying to create change for. Eddie and his team have been absolutely brilliant in supporting Kelly.’

What steps did you take to make a change?

Kelly started as an Undergraduate Site Engineer with Lendlease seven months ago, working on the McKellar Centre project as part of the Pathway to 144 Mental Health Beds Project.

Kelly’s roles initially involved the management of project documentation control (liaising with stakeholders and disseminating information to Lendlease subcontractors), however she quickly progressed into site quality control, management of multiple finishes packages and completion of project trade procurement.

With the multiple tasks that Kelly has taken on, it has meant a lot of meaningful engagement with fellow team members and direct one-on-one training and coaching for her. Kelly is very bright and offers new perspectives for the team.

When I think back to the first time we met with Kelly accompanied by Brooke over coffee at the McKellar Centre cafeteria, to now, her confidence has just exponentially grown.

What was different after the change?

‘I think Kelly is awesome’, her manager Eddie Atkinson chimes, ‘I have such admiration for her resilience, determination and drive. Not only is she a great worker with excellent theoretical knowledge; she has affected the team is a way not expected. Let’s call it a ‘privilege check’ if you will. Hearing her stories of hardship and barriers has opened our eyes to how tough it can be for those out there away from our comfortable lives. Having Kelly on our team has brought diversity into our conversations and new-found awareness. The growth and development within the team is better for it. It’s fantastic to see her confidence grow more every day, which allows her to really capitalise on her abilities’.

What was the outcome?

This is a brilliant example of collaboration across the GROW network culminating in a young woman with a passion for construction getting a foothold via industry experience and then a further robust offer in engineering to really launch her career.

Kelly has now completed her Masters, moved from Norlane to Manifold Heights and has her own place and a car. Her confidence has sky-rocketed along with her sense of belonging.

Kelly will shortly be applying for the Lendlease Global Graduate Programme.

Quote from Kelly: ‘I really like my job, this opportunity has changed my life in so many ways. I can now do things I once only dreamed of…’

Photo is Eddie Atkinson at the construction of the McKellar Centre in the Women’s Internal Courtyard.

*Names have been changed for this story.