Con­struct your own fu­ture

Style Magazine - - Feature -

No­body told Alea­cia Olm not to climb a tree in the play­ground, nor did she have a class­mate’s notes to copy or con­stant tech­nol­ogy to rely on. Homeschooled along with her four sib­lings, this fos­tered in Alea­cia a sense of in­de­pen­dence, cog­ni­tive think­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing nu­ance. “I loved be­ing homeschooled — it gave me valu­able tools that a lot of so­ci­ety is now miss­ing,” Alea­cia says. “It taught me to use my mind be­fore us­ing tech­nol­ogy to work out a prob­lem. “And not to al­ways rely on the built en­vi­ron­ment to come back and feed you with stim­u­la­tion.” Hum­ble and well-spo­ken, this young woman has ten years’ ex­pe­ri­ence un­der her belt in the en­gi­neer­ing field and has just re­ceived her rec­om­men­da­tion to be cleared as a Reg­is­tered Pro­fes­sional En­gi­neer of Queens­land. “It means I will be able to sign off on de­signs in my area of prac­tice and have peo­ple un­der me who I can di­rectly su­per­vise,” Alea­cia says. So what in­spired the jour­ney from her par­ents’ cat­tle and small crop farm in the Lock­yer Val­ley to a po­si­tion in­volved with Aus­tralia’s agri­cul­tural and en­ergy sec­tor projects? “I was al­ways a lit­tle of the mind­set of be­ing in the build­ing en­vi­ron­ment,” Alea­cia says. “I re­mem­ber from a young age mum had ca­reer books and not a lot sprung out at me, but civil en­gi­neer when I was about seven stuck out at me. “I also looked into con­struc­tion man­age­ment and be­ing a chippy but mum said had to get a de­gree.” When Alea­cia took out this year’s Women in Busi­ness Ris­ing Star Award it was a source of great pride to her fam­ily. “Mum was in­cred­i­bly proud, she saw me in a dif­fer­ent light and said she never re­alised I was so am­bi­tious in my field and she thinks it’s nice to see all the hard work recog­nised.” “Some­times for me, they don’t un­der­stand ex­actly what I do, so through so­ci­ety recog­ni­tion it shows them my role in the com­mu­nity.” The award is given only when judges deem a can­di­date stands out from other cat­e­gories. It com­mends an en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit, courage and the self-be­lief and tenac­ity to know and fol­low your own dreams. It hasn’t al­ways been an easy climb up­wards how­ever, with Alea­cia ex­pe­ri­enc­ing mo­ments of great doubt and loss of direc­tion. In her sec­ond year of her en­gi­neer­ing de­gree Alea­cia hated it and con­fessed to her mum she didn’t want to be there. “I thought, what is the pur­pose of this de­gree?” Alea­cia’s mum ad­vised her to speak to peo­ple in the in­dus­try, and flip­ping through The Chron­i­cle one morn­ing they found an ar­ti­cle on en­gi­neer Na­dia Ives (nee Rhodes). “I went for a cof­fee with her and she helped me work through the rea­sons I was do­ing this,” Alea­cia says. “She helped me work out the end goal was why, and the rea­son was there. “It’s bet­ter to ask for help when you are strug­gling than to just keep go­ing, a chat can change your life, hon­estly.” Alea­cia now ap­plies the same men­tor­ing in her own life. “I men­tor a woman called Danielle Davey, she is younger than me so I took her un­der my wing and helped her find her niche”. “I like to work with peo­ple build­ing their con­fi­dence to talk with peo­ple so they can start con­ver­sa­tions with their clients or a boss.” Alea­cia be­lieves ev­ery­body has a po­si­tion and a pur­pose in life. “You know that po­si­tion is al­ready in your ge­net­ics — you just need to build the trust in your­self and know that you can do it.” “And when you can’t, there are peo­ple there to guide you and help you re­alise that the strength is al­ready there.” In the mean­time, Alea­cia is in­spir­ing other women the best way she knows how; by get­ting on with it. “I take a project from start to fin­ish; I come up with con­cep­tual stuff — lay­outs of sites, the pre­lim­i­nary de­sign and then a team helps on the over­all project.” “I’ve worked from the North­ern Ter­ri­tory down to Mel­bourne in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor and have projects un­der con­struc­tion in re­mote sites.” As for be­ing a fe­male in a male-cen­tric in­dus­try, Alea­cia takes an ap­proach based on merit not gen­der. “I’m not out there to push my ‘I’m fe­male I can do ev­ery­thing’ be­cause I know I can’t. “But I know we are equal in our brains and abil­ity so I don’t re­ally need to prove my­self with guys who don’t think that.”

It’s bet­ter to ask for help when you are strug­gling than to just keep go­ing, a chat can change your life, hon­estly

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