Jacqui manages the processing of welded beams to feed into a fabricator’s erection program for Steltech.
Often overseeing more than 20 projects at a time – many of which are split into bite size phases. Her services range from the ordering of steel plate, through to the planning of the welding of each beam and the delivery of them in the right order so building frames can be put up as scheduled.
Steltech Structural delivers to two key elements for their clients. Firstly, the design of commercial buildings for the construction industry where they specialise in optimised portal framed buildings (warehouses). Secondly, working with the fabrication industry by manufacturing and supplying the raw steel three plate welded beams for a wide range of construction projects throughout New Zealand.
Find out how Jacqui’s family background led to her flourishing career!
So how did your career get kick started Jacqui?
My father was a Mechanical Engineer who owned an engineering company in South Wales. It was a heavy machine and fabrication shop employing 120 people – I joined when I left school at 16. It was there that I learnt my business acumen over the next 10 years as his “right hand (wo)man”!
I also married a Kiwi Engineer. Setting up Brady Engineering together after emigrating to New Zealand in 1984. We undertook many large projects for NZ Steel, however losing my husband in 1998 changed this. After continuing to manage the business for four years, I sold it in 2002 to Bruce Bonner, who renamed the company IMG
This was certainly a hard decision to make. But a necessary one that allowed me to focus on our three children’s well being.
What does it take to do your job well?
I love the daily Interaction I get with fabricators. Being able to exceed their expectations and come up with solutions to keep projects on track is very rewarding.
To do that well, you need an unusual combination of skills. Those being to be able to see the big picture across multiple projects, while simultaneously managing the minute details required to complete each of them correctly and on time.
There’s the daily reality that if something can go wrong it WILL!! So being able to think on your feet and come up with alternative solutions is a must. It’s therefore important to continuously look ahead for potential barriers to success. Building a rapport with your customers to earn their trust and confidence is also a key skill needed.
What project are you most proud to be a part of?
In this role, it would be one of the first projects undertaken in my early days at Steltech. The Atiamuri Replacement Bridge between Taupo and Tokoroa.
This project was for HEB Construction with Grayson Engineering as the fabricator. It had lots of challenges, many of which were first time experiences for me. This included:
- managing wide plate imports from BlueScope Steel,
- making beams to AS/NZS 1554 Part 5,
- compiling a comprehensive QA package, and
- completing each (huge) beam in tight time frames.
Because of this work I received an award from the NZ Steel VP at the time (Gary Hook) for bringing it all together. It was very encouraging!
How do you find being a female engineer within your industry?
All in all, I’ve had relatively few problems over the years working within the engineering industry – both at workshop and corporate levels.
However, that’s not to say I haven’t experienced my fair share of condescending male attitudes to deal with from time to time.
When I first started with Steltech I had a lot of difficulty with the acceptance of my ability. This was most evident with the South Island fabricators who tended to only want to deal with my male boss. The funny thing being he always had to defer to me to get the answers they needed anyway! Thankfully this rarely happens these days.
Gender imbalance is if course still a standard in the engineering industry and probably always will be to a degree. I’ve noticed that some men have an element of “fear” around working alongside women. This can be heightened when working for one! I believe subconsciously this can sometimes affect the inclusion of females into team environments.
How do you think we can create better diversity in work places?
Steltech certainly is a good example of having excellent diversity.
One thing we all probably agree on is that women and men tend to approach things differently. That’s why it’s very healthy to get each other’s perspective with regards to problem solving and innovative thinking.
If a company genuinely wishes to have an inclusive and diverse team – it must be demonstrated from the top echelon. This can subsequently cement a culture of acceptance throughout the team.
However, until greater diversity is achieved within organisations, prospective female engineers will have to make sure they come with a tough skin. There are many early challenges to face – one of which is gaining acceptance and having to ‘prove’ yourself. But once that hurdle is overcome, engineering can be very rewarding for females exploring this as a career path. I personally love what I do.