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When Marcela moved to Australia in 2019, she found two unexpected new homes – in Tasmania, and in the local construction industry.

After graduating from her engineering degree in Brazil, Marcela moved to Australia and studied a Diploma in Leadership and Management. When an opening came up at Shaw Contracting, she scored an interview, and was hired as a graduate engineer.

A steep learning curve

Within two years she’d climbed the ranks to Project Engineer, working mainly in the project planning phase.

“I had never worked in construction in the field,” says Marcela. “I always doubted myself. I didn’t think I was going to be able to, especially being a second language as well. There was all the technical vocabulary that I had no idea how to say, and different standards and everything.

Despite the barriers, Marcela knows she brings a lot to the table. Her strengths lie in her focus, planning, and attention to detail. “Questions as well, lots of questions. It opens other people’s eyes of being like yeah, maybe there is another way to do it.”

She’s also had support every step of the way. “Anyone that I ask for some help or advice, they would always put everything that they were doing aside and come focus on what my question is and try to explain as best they could. It’s been great.”

Something new every day

Marcela rates the variety of work as the biggest advantage of her job. “You can go from a pipeline under the ground to a building which you’ll be able to see every day. So I think that‘s very interesting and you learn so much from one day to another. Compared to a year and a half ago, I definitely, I can definitely see a difference in my confidence and knowledge as well.”

Hoping more women share her experience

“We recently went with Shaw, employees as well, to the Women in Infrastructure meeting. It’s the little things that they participate, engage and support, that makes a difference at the end of the day.”

Marcela admits she gets a kick out of people’s surprise at her profession. “Me and my partner, we’ve been looking for houses. A couple of times, we’re talking to the agent and as soon as my boyfriend says he was an electrician, the agent says yeah, I saw your Shaw car outside. He’d say “Nah! That’s Marcela’s”. It’s amazing to see the surprised face of the person – the man wasn’t driving the work ute, it was the woman. That’s happened a few times.”

“I love it. I wouldn’t trade anything for working in construction.”

If there’s anyone talking a lot of negativity to you, and saying that you’re not capable, just ignore them and believe in yourself. Focus on getting the skills that the job requires.
Keystone Tasmania
Keystone Tasmania is the peak organisation facilitating building and construction industry workforce development in Tasmania.
We acknowledge the palawa people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we learn and work. We honour their enduring culture and knowledges as vital to the self-determination, wellbeing and resilience of their communities.

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