Empowering Northrop’s female leaders

Providing meaningful opportunities for our people is a key part of Northrop’s strategic direction.
 
In support of this goal, Northrop has launched an annual Women in Northrop (WIN) Leadership Conference, aimed at providing a profound, in person event to invest in meaningful opportunities for women in our industry. 
 
The idea was first sparked by two women in Northrop – Isabel Duffy, Associate, Business Development Manager and Structural Engineer and Natalie Ekins Butler, Business Support Manager and Women in Northrop Advisory Group Chair. 
 
“We were inspired by women in leadership events and conferences happening in the industry,” said Natalie. “We thought, ‘why not one for our people?’” 
 
“We refined our vision, developed a proposal that our Leadership Team endorsed, and built the event around direct feedback from Women in Northrop. The experience was incredibly empowering - we were given the freedom to build an event that focused on what WIN want. Encouraging diverse careers is a great benefit to the business and the talent we have.” 
 
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” said Isabel. “We designed the conference as an opportunity for our women to create connections across the business, share their experiences and learn key skills and information for success in senior roles. Knowledge is power, and the more we provide opportunities to learn about our business, and the possibilities available to each person, the less limitations there will be to take up opportunities when they arise.” 
 
Sessions were designed to give attendees the chance to explore and identify the skills, techniques, and tools to own their own career. A focus on connecting the community of mid and senior women was at the heart of the event, providing a supportive environment to learn these new skills and from one another.  
 
“Hearing from some of our most senior women – Kiri Hetariki, Karlie Collis and Emily Lukasiak in a panel discussion of the success achieved via non-traditional career pathways was a highlight for me,” said Natalie. “It was a perfect counter to ‘you can’t be what you can’t see’ - here they are in front of you. My own career pathway has been non-linear, and I have always felt that to be a benefit, not a hindrance. Having examples of successful women, not just in our industry, but in our business is incredibly inspiring.” 
 
Dr Stacey Ashley, High Performance Leadership Expert, facilitated career development sessions focused on empowering women to design their own careers. She also ran a series of engaging workshops for how to be an effective and successful leader – how women’s ability to foster authentic connections can be the remedy to the disconnection many teams and businesses are experiencing. She drew on insights from her book, ‘Show Up – 5 Practical Ways to Activate Your Leadership and Rise to the Challenge’.  
 
“My highlight was the interview with Melanie Kurzydlo, Executive Manager of Project Management (Aus) at APP Corporation and Jamie Shelton, Northrop Principal,” said Isabel. “Understanding Melanie’s story was quite eye opening for everyone. Her confidence in dealing with difficulties that can arise in our industry and her incredible positivity about the opportunities she has embraced resonated. She was positive about the potential for women in this industry and how rewarding construction industry careers can be. Melanie’s message included the importance of building a community around you - it takes a team to build success.” 
 
Inspiring connection through ongoing community touchpoints was built into the event experience with each attendee given a book personally chosen by the organisers and a card thanking them for embracing the day. “Providing ongoing inspiration to stay connected through what we hope will become the ‘Northrop Library’ also provides an opportunity to enhance knowledge, inspire conversation and connection. We chose books that would support diverse writers and female perspectives – Bell Hooks, Gemma Hartley, Clementine Ford, Virginia Woolf, and Yasmin Abdel-Magied, were amongst the selection of the authors we bought titles from”, said Isabel.  
 
“I was in awe of Melanie’s self-possession and how she commanded the room,’ said Natalie. “That was part of her advice to the group - when you’re in the space, own it, take advantage of the opportunities to back yourself. It’s what we were empowered to do with the WIN Leadership Conference idea and what we hope the day inspires our attendees.” 
 
Responses received were overwhelmingly positive with attendees feeling thankful, grateful, inspired, and more connected. They said it had empowered them to reflect on their careers and take immediate action with their managers as the advice was so practical – a powerful first step. 
 
When Steven Maher, Principal Structural Engineer, was asked for how he saw the event he said he could feel the buzz in the air, and it felt like an important inflection point in Northrop’s story. The Executive Leadership Team - David Field, Todd Halliday and Mark Sturgess – all remarked at how timely the event was and Northrop’s continued investment in the female leadership talent at Northrop.  
 
Planning has begun for next year’s event, capturing again what Women in Northrop want, empowering individuals to identify opportunities to develop and grow, and embracing the benefits of diversity.  
 
If you’re interested in joining Northrop, view our current opportunities and take your career to the next level. 
 
Contributor(s)
BRISBANE Business Support Manager
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, ASSOCIATE, GROUP MANAGER, STRUCTURAL ENGINEER
Author(s): 
Natalie ButlerIsabel Duffy

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