Fionna Reid is a successful Brisbane-based businesswoman and lawyer specialising in legal matters associated with the construction industry.
She has worked hard to establish her practice and build relationships with construction companies and subcontractors.
But she felt something was missing – and that was building relationships with other women in the industry on an informal basis.
Over the years Ms Reid had done the rounds of networking groups and chamber of commerce gatherings.
“Most networking groups do not specifically cater for the construction industry,” she said.
Ms Reid said also there was often an emphasis on selling a product or service rather than providing a supportive environment for the members to get to know each other and develop relationships.
She decided to do something about it after sharing her idea with close friend and fellow businesswoman Lynne Sturgess of Precision Loans, and less than 12 months ago the Women in Building and Construction (WIBC) group was formed.
“We have had a mix of speakers since then and are regularly getting up to 30 people attending the informal lunches,” she said.
“The luncheons provide an opportunity for women to discuss issues that are relevant to their industry and make connections in an environment where they feel comfortable and can be themselves.”
Ms Reid highlighted three ways the group looked after members.
“We make sure that at least half of the time made available for the event is kept free for the ladies to get to know each other; we regularly request feedback from the ladies so that we make sure the group and the speakers cater for the needs of members; and service providers and speakers do not openly sell their products or services at the group.
“Rather they can provide an item of “value” to be placed in the goody bags, which each lady can take home.
“At the end of the day, the WIBC group is about its members and its values; it is not about egos.”
Ms Reid’s decision to set up the group, which has an online presence at www.wibc.com.au, followed her attending a luncheon on the Gold Coast for women in building.
The group was predominantly for the female partners of building businesses.
“I got a lot out of visiting the group and thought, ‘what if there was a group that wasn’t limited to builders. What if the group catered for all members of the construction industry’?” she said.
Women attending the WIBC lunches include engineers, architects, business owners, developers, builders, subcontractors, suppliers, lawyers, mortgage brokers, plumbers and electricians.
“It is really exciting to see women from all parts of the construction industry connect and be inspired by each other’s stories. I would like to see the group expand, but I am really thankful to those ladies who already regularly attend and make the group such an inspiring and genuine experience,” Ms Reid said.