Bianca’s story. A passion for the built environment and how it connects us
Every now and then when I get a moment, I gaze out the window from level 33 in Barangaroo Sydney and look out at the buildings which surround us and bring people together and reflect on where I am from and what drove me here.
I belong to a Clan from a small, thin volcanic island in Papua New Guinea 3 degrees south of the equator, which has black sand on the west coast and white sand on the east – like Motunui from Moana. A peaceful place with no electricity, no running water and no idea of time or deadlines, besides sunrise, high sun and sunset. This is where my Mum is from and is my heritage.
My father, on the other hand, is the son of a farmer who was told he couldn’t be a farmer so decided to pursue his love of automobiles and engines, which took him far away from the farm to the world’s largest copper mine on a tiny island of Bougainville to work on mining machinery where he met my mum. After spending my young years in PNG we moved to the UK. However, it didn’t take long for my Mum to tire of the cold winters, so my parents embraced the opportunity to leave and move to a village in Australia, Bermagui on the far south coast NSW.
Keen to connect with my heritage and be close to my people, I returned to our village when I finished school. I enjoyed living a very simple and rewarding life helping grow and gathering food, building huts and shelters and learning how the village community and customs work. Everything was so far removed from my life in Australia. Every day we worked together in the community, we shared and contributed, it was expected and enjoyed. This deep sense of community spirit and the value of everyone’s contribution is what I took away with me and is the foundation of how I live and work today. The buildings within the village were built by the community and the gathering spaces where we connected.
This experience ignited my interest in buildings and how they connect people, communities and cultures and how they impact one’s happiness. My interest in the built environment continued to be a theme as I worked and travelled. Exploring and appreciating cities, towns, villages, and the communities connected by these buildings, which enabled people to form relationships and connect – whether it be families at home, religions in places of worship, entertainment venues, malls (my favourite), and sporting venues. Realising my passion in buildings and how they connect us, I enrolled to study building surveying.
Following university, I landed a Graduate role at SGA Property Consultancy which was acquired by KPMG in 2014 and known as Property & Environmental Services, now part of Infrastructure, Assets and Places, which is where I am today.
After 18 years, I still get excited about every opportunity as no project is the same. Last week it was a portfolio of vineyards and fertilizer factories, next week who knows? Some of the more unusual and interesting assessments I have been involved in are processed meat factories, luxury retail, secure bank vaults, fully automated warehouses, university campuses and accommodation, greenhouses, cold store distribution warehouses and my favorite – ice cream processing plants.
I have been so fortunate to have had many amazing role models on my journey who have shaped who I am today. I also greatly benefited from being mentored and trained by the best people in the industry and continue to be.
I have always been surrounded by people who share the same passion and excitement and love what they do. When I started my building surveying career at SGA, we were a small team, and I was the only female for quite a long time. Now, gosh, we have come along way, our team is led by a charismatic female leader, our senior leadership team has achieved a gender balance and we have a very diverse team who drive the business who capture the perspectives of the world we live in. Which all show that whatever your background or gender, engineering and its cousins make brilliant careers for women. I am very grateful and proud. Thank you.
International Women in Engineering Day (June 23 2021)is an international awareness campaign to raise the profile of women in engineering and focus attention on the amazing career opportunities available to girls in this exciting industry. It celebrates the outstanding achievements of women engineers throughout the world.