When you meet Meg Herrmann you instantly know you are talking to someone who grew up on a farm. It’s in the sense of adventure, the confidence, the can do attitude, and the gutsy approach to working in what has been until very recently, an exclusively male industry.
Straight from school Meg enrolled in social work, then during the all-important year out to travel, encountered the architecture of old Europe and was simply blown away. Entertaining a whole new career direction, Meg (the youngest in a four girl family) encountered some quizzical looks but eventually had their full support when she chose to enrol in the Bachelor of Property and Development at ABP. Early in her first year she read an article by Michelle Zarb from Hansen Yuncken, a member of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), and decided to call her to talk with someone who had made the same decision and was thriving in the industry.
That conversation was a turning point, as shortly after Zarb offered her part time work at HY during her studies. She immediately fell in love with the work, and by the time she got her BPD she decided to defer post-grad as she already had nearly three years’ on site experience. “HY was a fantastic company to work with, and allowed me huge flexibility – whenever I needed time to go to classes it was no problem. They really believed in me - as a 19 year old I was a project co-ordinator, and by 21 I was running minor works projects myself!”
In Meg’s year 30% of the students were female, and she says the ones who stayed in the industry had strong personalities and a love of physical work. She is convinced that her experience in shearing sheds as a child helped her to thrive on site, and not to be intimidated by the guys. She also feels that women bring order to the building site, and are very much more organised than their male counterparts.
Meg attributes her love of the business and her passion to succeed to a great team environment at HY, where she reported to fellow UoM graduate Richard Hansen. Leaving HY to go for a contract administration job in Grocon was a hard thing to do. “It was a real wrench but I have to say that even at Grocon, a much larger company, I have felt that same sense of camaraderie and support for younger women on the job.”