Leading by Example in the Construction Industry

Where are they now? Class of 2001 School Dux, Lucy Gowdie shares her career pathway since leaving St Catherine’s.

What is your current position and what does it involve?

I am the Regional Commercial and Risk Manager for Lendlease Building in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

I sit on the Regional Senior Leadership Team and report directly to our General Manager. I am responsible for developing and delivering the Implementation Plan for the commercial function, which then forms part of the broader Annual Business Plan for our region. 

 I provide commercial and risk support and expertise in relation to all aspects of operations for Lendlease Building in Queensland and the Northern Territory, including tenders and projects in delivery.   

I am the lead contributor to the commercial strategy for tender submissions, with responsibility for providing advice in relation to risk management and mitigation, and the finalisation of commercial schedules and departure tables. 

 I attend regular onsite reviews of our projects in delivery, where I provide guidance in relation to upstream and downstream commercial matters, optimisation of projected business margin and risk management issues. 

 I also take an active role in managing head contract and subcontract disputes, including negotiating with other parties, preparing and reviewing documentation and providing recommendations to the General Manager, Managing Director and other senior managers in relation to proposed settlement terms and parameters. 

 What is your career background? 


Date Employer Role(s) 
2007-2010 Parsons Brinckerhoff Pty Ltd 

Civil Engineer 

Design Coordinator 

Graduate Engineer 

2010-2014 Thiess Pty Ltd 

Commercial Lawyer 

Project Lawyer 

Senior Contract Administrator 

Contract Administrator 

2014 – present Lendlease Building Pty Ltd 

Regional Commercial & Risk Manager  

Commercial Manager 


What has been one of your greatest career achievements to date? 

 I would consider my career to have had several notable achievements. As one of the youngest senior managers within my region, I am really proud of the work that I have delivered to date, and I enjoy the challenges that my role brings. 

One of my most recent achievements is my contribution to the delivery of the $1.8 billion Sunshine Coast University Hospital project. This project was procured as a public private partnership, and Lendlease was appointed as the design and construct contractor.  

For this project I provided significant support to the project team on contract and commercial issues over a two year period, including regular visits to site and engagement with various stakeholders. One of the key challenges of this project was for us to understand the complex contracting arrangements, and to manage the large number of subcontract packages that were required to be procured.  

 Ultimately we are very proud that this project was successfully delivered on time and will be able to provide a significantly improved level of healthcare for the Sunshine Coast community.   

What challenges have you faced professionally and how have you dealt with them? 

Despite increasing awareness surrounding the importance of gender diversity in Australia, we continue to face barriers to attracting and retaining women in the construction industry. When I say construction, it includes engineering, project management, architecture, and construction law – the entire industry. 

I have worked in the construction industry for nearly ten years on projects across Australia and during this time the challenge of being a female in a male dominated industry has remained fairly constant.  

Share of voice, job recognition, authority and leadership are just some of the aspects that come to mind. In saying this, I feel that through extensive study, dedication to the job and having the experience of working both on-site and in corporate has placed me in a strong position to succeed as a female in the construction industry.  

 It also helps that Lendlease, is really supportive of diversity – in fact, we were recently awarded the 2016 Employer of Choice for Gender Equality by the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency.  

In a role that historically has never been held by a woman, I now feel that my biggest challenge is to ensure that I remain a positive role model and influential leader for not only my team but also other women in the construction industry.  

I think that gender equality starts with a commitment from each and every one of us and should resonate daily through our actions and conversations. 

Thinking about your career progression, what study did you undertake post-school and how was it beneficial? 

The study I have undertaken post-school has all been very beneficial to me in my career. My undergraduate studies were in Civil Engineering and Law, and my post-graduate studies in Construction Law helped draw these two areas of study together.   

Although I have learnt a huge amount through ‘on the job’ experience and from my many mentors, without my formal education and qualifications I would never have been successful in applying for the various roles I have performed over the years.   

Reflecting on your time at St Catherine’s how do you feel the School/staff/students assisted you? 

The message that “girls can do anything” was always strongly reinforced to us throughout my time at St Catherine’s. I think this helped me believe that I could successfully pursue a career in a traditionally male dominated industry.  

What advice would you have for current St Catherine’s students, particularly our VCE students, when selecting subjects, tertiary courses and careers? 

I think it is important that students do not restrict themselves to either focusing just on humanities subjects, or just on Mathematics and Science subjects. I selected a range of both types of subjects which made my studies more interesting and kept my options open for which tertiary courses I could pursue.  

For students who enjoy an extra challenge, I also recommend taking on one university subject during Year 12. Personally, I chose to study Philosophy through Monash University. This was an interesting experience as the subject matter and structure of the course was quite different from a standard VCE subject. It allowed me to meet students from other schools who had also selected this subject, and although the subject was quite difficult, ultimately this was recognised through an effective ‘scaling up’ of my final mark. 

St Catherine’s has a proud history of Old Girls influencing a number of industries. Do you have professional networks of Old Girls that you keep in contact with? 

I have kept in touch with a number of girls from St Catherine’s primarily via social media. Unfortunately, I have not been able to attend our two most recent School reunions due to work commitments on project sites in remote areas. 

I have seen promotional material published for a number of professional networking events that were held last year – I look forward to hopefully one day attending an event for those of us who are working in the Building and Construction Industry! 

Up next