Some tips from the top for construction students at UTS





A cross section of some of the construction industry’s prime motivators and, possibly, influencers, lined up at UTS Business School in Sydney last week in front of a 300-strong mostly student audience to hear words of inspiration on how to change the industry for the better.

Major drawcard on stage was NSW Building commissioner David Chandler who’s been credited with starting the gargantuan job cleaning up the excesses and failures within the building industry after a number of failed apartment buildings ruined the bank balances (and sometimes lives) of scores of buyers and pretty well threatened the credibility of the entire sector.

Also on the panel was Coronation Property general manager David Cremona; Richard Crookes Constructions site engineer, Stephanie Nguyen, deputy managing director of Decode Group Divya Mehta; Frasers Property Australia general manager of delivery and operations, Nicholle Sparkes; and Master Builders Association NSW executive director, Brian Seidler.

According to Professor Martin Loosemore who organised the event and teaches corporate social responsibility and people management in construction at UTS, the panel discussion was designed to inspire the future leaders of the construction industry.

The idea was to empower them to “have the courage to go into the industry and challenge the way things are done – the norms, practices and standards and expectations of workmanship and ethics.”

No less.

It was also to give the students the chance to meet some current leaders of the industry and hear how they got there.

Gaining trust was key to the change that the industry needed according to David Chandler.

He could see growing numbers of property owners seeking Green Star and NABERs ratings as a way of gaining trust.

“[Asset owners] might go back down to a three and a half or four star rating but that’s just not a trustworthy building. A trustworthy building is something that doesn’t harm anyone – it doesn’t do physical, emotional, economic harm and it doesn’t harm the environment in which it’s being made.”

These were the four cornerstones of trust, he said.

But the building industry had a lot more work to do to reclaim trust from the public in an age where trust in buildings was falling. The students who are graduating today are the ones who will become the custodians of trustworthiness in the industry, he said.


Divya Mehta, the deputy managing director of Decode Groupsaid being open to change meant being adaptable.

“How do you bring about change in the industry? How do you drive change in the industry? I think my only answer to that would be by being adaptable. And authentic.

“So first is realising that change is needed. And we all know that change is inevitable. We all know that we can’t run away from it.”

Mehta herself had to adapt when her company grew from the initial five staff to 130.