Vanessa has what it takes to be a Top 100 woman in construction

A passion for flipping houses inspired Vanessa Hicks to flip her career into the construction industry, and she has never looked back.

A nomination to be one of the first Top 100 Women in construction and development was unexpected honour for Ipswich City Council’s Team Coordinator (Building) Vanessa Hicks.

The initiative launched last year to promote the positive aspects of change in the industry and recognise the hard-working women both on the front line and behind the scenes.

For Vanessa Hicks, her passion for building and construction started with renovating homes to re-sell, particularly beautiful character houses.

She had a business degree, “but it never really took me anywhere”. Then she got her foot in the door as a council building compliance officer.

From there Vanessa worked her way up through local government building teams, eventually coming home to Ipswich last year.

Asked to describe the type of woman she is, Vanessa replied with “heavy duty”.

“I have to be in a male dominated industry,” she said.

“You need to recognise your strengths and weaknesses and be able to walk it like you talk it in order to win respect amongst the people as a building inspector, leader, mentor, role model and a mum raising three liberated daughters.

“For women it’s challenging to prove yourself and discover your worth but if the passion is there, rise to it and share the experience.”

Vanessa is the coordinator of Ipswich City Council’s Building team, one of the few remaining in-house certification teams in Queensland local government.

“For us, together we proudly enhance the quality of life for our community through providing a quality, contemporary building service to our clients in a positive, friendly and positive manner,” she said.

Top 100 Women in Construction

Top 100 Women on LinkedIn


percent of construction trades workers are women

One of Vanessa’s home renovation projects – before.

One of Vanessa’s home renovation projects – after.

A recent Women in Construction Report by Construction Skills Queensland found fewer than three per cent of construction trades workers were women – with female participation lower today than 30 years ago.

The report identified an entrenched male culture as a main barrier to women being more involved in the construction industry.

For Vanessa, it’s important to do what she can to shift those stereotypes and barriers for the next generation of women – starting at home by involving her daughters in renovation projects.

“It shows them that they can do it too. It shows the appreciation of a little hard work, you can create something,” she said.

“And I have had a lot of female cadets who I have coached and mentored from administration roles. You don’t have to come from the tools, you can come from across the industry.”

Vanessa’s job leads her to interact with people across the construction and building industry; builders, contractors, developers, stakeholders and her team, and she is involved in many industry networks including Top 100 Women in Construction, Masterbuilders, Australian Institute of Building Surveyors and National Association of Women in Construction.

“(What I love about my job is) it also extends to the mentoring, coaching and giving back what I have learnt and learning from others in the industry,” she said.

For women it’s challenging to prove yourself and discover your worth but if the passion is there, rise to it and share the experience.

Vanessa Hicks

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