Her successful career started as Master Builders SA’s first female Carpentry/Joinery apprentice and now a University of South Australia Construction Management Lecturer.

If you had told teenage Anna that in 2021, she would be a University Lecturer there is no doubt she would have laughed and dismissed the idea as ridiculous.

Anna is not your typical university lecturer. Due to undiagnosed dyslexia, as a senior high school student she struggled with many of the traditional subjects such as English and Maths and did not consider herself a studious person.

While some people may have lamented what could have been, had an earlier diagnosis of dyslexia been made, Anna sees her time at high school as a period that shaped the rest of her life. With a homeroom teacher that understood her preference for practical learning, Anna spent a large amount of her Clare High School years in the technical subject classrooms, sometimes the only student in the class and one of a few females.

This led to work experience in her senior years with local cabinet makers and a residential builder and directed her to the pathway with TafeSA studying in a pre-vocational carpentry course at Elizabeth and then with Master Builders SA as an apprentice.

Anna has been celebrated over the years as the first female carpentry apprentice to graduate from Master Builders SA GTO, which has been a rewarding and challenging title to hold. But Anna enjoys a challenge and is the perfect example of how the building and construction industry is more than just a job. It can provide a career path that takes many different directions.

After her graduation from her Master Builders SA Apprenticeship in 1997, she was offered a maintenance position in the organisation she had undertaken the last year of her apprenticeship with. However, after a short time the travel bug had her exploring the USA and Canada for a year and on her return, she hung up the steel caps to care for her terminally ill Uncle. This led to a career change and she studied her Certificate IV as a carer and cared for young children with a disability.

The call of the building industry had her return for more study and saw her complete a Certificate IV in Building and Construction/Estimation and Site Supervision to get her off the tools but use all the industry knowledge she had experienced over the years.

As a demonstration of the various paths the building and construction industry can provide, Anna started up her own maintenance business and at the same time took her first steps into teaching. Her first teaching role was as a casual lecturer at TafeSA, lecturing the carpentry/ joinery apprentices.

In yet another change to her career, Anna has also worked in project development and estimating. A role she says she truly loved. But she says this about many of her roles, as her passion for the industry shines through when she talks about all of the various positions she has held over the years.

After a few years away, Anna found herself back at TafeSA full-time where she taught foundation literacy and numeracy skills to bring students up to a level that they could start their apprenticeships. This included teaching young adults how to practically apply numeracy skills to be used in a construction situation.

This type of work brought her lots of enjoyment as she loved working with disengaged young adults who challenged the school system. Anna’s background made her the perfect mentor and many high school career coordinators would give her a call to see if she could find a place for their disengaged young adults and future tradies.

Humbly, Anna says she was surprised to be appointed as a lecturer at the University of South Australia. However, her teaching background coupled with her hands-on experience in the industry makes her the perfect fit to teach the Bachelor of Construction Management to the next generation of building industry leaders.

When Anna isn’t lecturing, she is continuing to give back to the industry as an active member of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Mates in Construction (MIC). The latter, she introduces to her Construction Management students in their first year of university.

Being the first female apprentice at Master Builders SA, this was a significant milestone for the industry, but what Anna has continued to achieve in this industry should also be celebrated.

She has demonstrated that the building and construction industry can provide a rewarding and varied career path and deciding to take the step to start an apprenticeship is only the beginning.

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