Young foreman breaks down barriers

WHEN Maddison Hume started helping her father out at his civil construction business for pocket money, it seemed a practical rather than life defining decision.

But little did she know that 11 years later she would be employed as one of his foremen.

Although she took a break to try her hand at an education and business degree at the University of Tasmania, Ms Hume soon decided it was not for her and instead returned to what she enjoyed most – concreting, excavation and form work.

At just 23-years-of-age, she is now one of three foremen employed at Dunwell Construction, a family-owned business specialising in civil construction, concreting, excavation and earthworks.

“I started out as a labourer for minimum wage and have steadily worked my way up to a foremen position where I am now overseeing a team of builders,” Ms Hume said.

“The building and construction industry has always interested me and I enjoy watching the transformation process involved in something as simple as laying a house slab or driveway.

“Plus, I always love seeing people’s shocked reactions when they ask me what I do for a living – it’s always nice to say that I work in construction and it’s what I love doing.”

But being a woman in a typically male-dominated industry is not always easy – something Ms Hume can attest too.

“When I first started, I did find it difficult and extremely nerve-racking,” she said.

“But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gained a lot more confidence, which is partly due to the fact that I regularly go to the gym and work out.

“Once I became stronger and didn’t have to physically rely on the guys to help me out, I became a lot more confident in myself and my abilities, which in turn earned the respect of those around me.

“There is also that pressure to ensure that everything is done exactly right, not just for the satisfaction of a job well done, but so that no one can blame a mistake on just ‘being a girl’.

“But starting at such a young age has definitely helped me out, both in building my knowledge base and teaching me that if I want something in life, I need to work hard to get it.”

Looking to the future, Ms Hume said she planned to continue working at Dunwell Construction with the hope to one day take over from her father when he stepped down from the business.

“The building and construction industry is a great one to be in and overall it’s been a wonderful experience,” she said.

“I’ve taken charge, learnt new things and earned the respect of an industry that women typically haven’t been a part of until recently.”

When asked what advice she would give to other aspiring tradeswomen, Ms Hume said to simply “go for it.”

“Even if you’re hesitant and a little intimidated, just hold your head up high and do it,” she said.

“Women can do anything these days and there is opportunity in this industry – just go for it and don’t let anyone hold you back, question your choice or the worth of what you can bring to the trade.”

Caption: Maddison Hume hard at work in her role as foreman at Dunwell Construction.