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Project Manager

Chelsey’s positivity, resilience and commitment to making a difference have seen her shine in the world of industrial project management. She feels lucky to have found her vocation in life and would like to see a new status quo established for women in property.

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Who is Chelsey Smith?

Chelsey is a Project Manager within the industrial team. She helps manage and deliver industrial projects on state-owned land, while monitoring the performance of these projects, getting out on site and forming strategic partnerships with consultants and private sector enterprise.

When you decided to pursue your current career, did you give much thought to gender?

I didn’t give any thought to gender when I started my career. I was working with a female Project Manager in construction at the time. However, I recognise that this is not very common within the built environment industry and I recall a disproportionate number of male students in the lecture theatre alongside me at university.

Have you ever felt that your gender made it difficult for you to have a voice in the workplace?

To date I have had positive workplace experiences and have not felt as though my gender has impacted my career progression. Noting this, I have had instances when I have been the only female in the room and some participants in the meeting have overlooked my contribution and focused on my male colleagues. While these experiences were disappointing, I am confident in myself and my abilities and I encourage other women to know their worth and keep going.

Please tell us about one of your greatest female role models in life.

I don’t just have one! I have admiration for many women, including Brittany Higgins, Jacinda Ardern, Julia Gillard, Grace Tame, Michelle Obama and Lucy Turnbull.

What do you consider to be your some of your greatest professional (and personal) achievements?

My sense of professional achievement is attached to the amazing projects that I help deliver and the enduring economic and community legacy these projects leave for generations of South Australians. I am also very proud of the fact that I managed a successful interstate relocation during a global pandemic!

What advice would you give your younger self about the world of work?

This is a poignant question for me as ten years ago I was at a crossroads in my career, and it was tough to be a young graduate in the industry. If I could impart two pieces of advice upon my former self, they would be (1) know your worth, and (2) the challenges you are facing now will build your resilience and get you to the role that was meant for you (albeit in a slightly different profession).

What message would you give other women who might seek to work in your field?

Go for it! Project management in the built environment industry is incredibly rewarding and the projects are so diverse. It is an exciting and at times challenging profession but being able to make a positive difference to people and community through built projects is amazing and you’ll be so proud to do what you do.

How can men be more supportive of women in the workplace?

The friendly advice I’d give to men is: treat everyone the same. It’s important that men work alongside women to create an environment where equal participation is the status quo. Men—like women—should call out the actions or words of others in the workplace that reinforce gendered bias.

How do you think workplaces can achieve greater success in breaking down gender bias?

Workplaces should remove any factors that enable gender inequality to exist and become entrenched. It’s important that staff members who do the same job are paid the same salary. It’s also important that diversity and difference is embraced in the workplace and all staff are empowered to reach their full potential.

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