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Fulton Hogan: A shining light

Fulton Hogan aims to support and empower greater diversity throughout its entire business. Image: Fulton Hogan.

Fulton Hogan is supporting the upskilling and elevation of female team members, exemplified by its almost entirely female civil sub-contractor team based in Western Australia.

At almost a century old, Fulton Hogan has always remained at the forefront of modernity, utilising the latest technologies and methods to produce high-quality infrastructure for its clientele.

Fulton Hogan also prioritises the condition and support for its staff just as much as its equipment, an ethos that can be tracked back to the culture and attitudes developed by founders Jules Fulton and Bob Hogan in 1933.

Now spanning 10,000+ staff across both Australia and New Zealand, Fulton Hogan’s emphasis on creating a family-like culture across the business has helped to create equal opportunities for its team members.

The company’s REAL values are just one example. These values of Respect, Energy and Effort, Attitude, as well as Leadership aim to ensure that each individual within the company can feel empowered and supported.

This culture is also helping to internally support and promote Fulton Hogan’s female team members. 

Smashing down barriers 

Breaking down the barriers and driving gender equality are goals that many businesses across the construction industry are striving to achieve. What sets Fulton Hogan’s approach apart from the rest?

The company has also worked hard to partner with organisations that are leading the charge. One example is its ongoing partnership with the Richmond Football Club’s women’s program.

This program assists female players to establish a career in both the AFLW/VFLW and the construction industry, providing opportunities for greater representation across both sport and construction.

Another example is the company’s ‘a day In Her Boots’ program. Aimed at year 9-10 female and non-binary students, the program is set to create awareness around current and future opportunities within the infrastructure industry, showcasing the variety of career pathways available across the sector at all levels. 

The program launched in Melbourne last year, following the success of a similar program that’s been running for several years in New Zealand, and will be rolled out nation wide this year.

On site 

While aiming to attract the next generation of female and non-binary team members, Fulton Hogan also has an ever-growing representation of female leaders that are helping to shape Australia’s infrastructure pipeline.

A new contract that was taken up last year led to the formation of a new utilities team for works in the Southwest region of Western Australia.

Rebecca Harding is the supervisor of this team of six, with four of these team members being female. Harding says the work is dynamic and at times challenging, but made easier thanks to the team’s close camaraderie.

“At the moment we’re working on one project, that’s the fibre optic networking. That incorporates the installation and upgrading of pits, as well as hauling and overall upgrades to the network,” she says.

Three crew members within the team are comparatively young and new to the sector. 

For Paige Ward – Leading Hand, Mikayla Bulman – Labourer, and Jordie Harcombe – Labourer, this post with Fulton Hogan represents some of their first working experiences out of high school. 

For Ward, it was the opportunity to get straight into the workforce during high school, as well as an enticing traineeship program that led her to Fulton Hogan. She says the change has been a positive one when it comes to the team itself, as well as the working environment.

“As part of my apprenticeship, I was doing heavy maintenance. I came back over to the utilities team to complete these works,” she says.

“It’s a bit different, going from working with some of the older guys to a smaller team like this. They can sometimes be a bit grumpy!” She jokes. “It’s good being here”.

Bulman says construction and infrastructure have always been a part of her life. As such, working at Fulton Hogan felt more like a natural progression.

“I graduated from high school in 2022,” she says. “I studied a certificate three in health services, so my main goal was to go down that path. But growing up, through Dad, I’ve been around machinery and the sector for a while.” 

“I was already friends with Paige (Ward) from high school – we’ve known each other for years. She told me about the opportunity to work at Fulton Hogan, so I just wanted to get my foot in the door to see if I liked it.”

Harcombe originally resided in New Zealand, in a country town outside of Auckland. At the time of joining the business, her mother had already been a Safety Advisor for Fulton Hogan for close to three years.


 

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“I finished high school in 2022 and I was just doing the normal part-time work during that time. I was starting to look into full time jobs and mum was asking around to see what was available. This role came up, so I moved to Perth, originally doing utilities works, then I was transferred down to Busselton,” she says.

“For my first job out of high school, it’s been really nice. I’m used to being around machinery and working long hours from my time on the farm.”

Moving into such a vast and intensive industry may be daunting to some, but all three haven’t looked back, quickly acquiring new skills, while also facing the challenges that come with being new to the industry. Under the trusted stewardship of Harding, all three have so far impressed, both in terms of their attitude, as well as their work proficiency.

Bulman says the size of the team, as well as the similar ages between her co-workers, helped to make the transition to working life much easier. 

“I think it’s more comforting coming to work,” she says. “You get to know everyone on a personal level because it is such a small team. It makes it easier being around [Paige and Jordie] because we’re all around the same age. It’s helped to form some friendships.” 

Harcombe says she knew of the Fulton Hogan culture through her mother. That being said, she’s still impressed with the support that new employees receive.

“Everyone has been really supportive. There isn’t a lot of pressure because I know that I can always ask anyone in the team if I’ve got any questions. It’s been really great, going from being one of the few females on other sites, to come here and see other females in good roles – it’s great to see,” she says.

Despite all taking different paths, all six team members are united in their enthusiasm, as well as their already extensive knowledge around infrastructure application.

Harding herself originally worked in horticulture, before having her own landscaping business, and then training people living with disabilities on how to use machinery. Initially employed as a vegetation officer, Harding moved on to supervise heavy maintenance, leading her to the current works.

She says leading the works has been a challenge that she and the rest of the team have been ready to embrace.

“I think the most challenging and fun aspect for this contract is that we’ve all come in on the same level. We’re all learning together and starting to build the team up. It’s something that none of us have ever done before, so there has been some challenges, but it’s been a great experience all being on the same page and learning together,” she says.

To support and assist the team, Fulton Hogan conducted a training program, showing what needed to be completed and how.

Harcombe says the program enabled the team to visually build upon its existing knowledge basis, with a step-by-step walkthrough on project components.

“Being on-site and being given information to read was a big help. I was fortunate enough to have a rough idea around the works thanks to my time in Perth, but I was still quite new,” she says. “It’s been really great to attain that knowledge and have the chance to ask a tonne of questions.”

Bulman says the training played an important part in increasing the overall confidence of the crew.

“It was a big eye opener, actually going up there and seeing how the job gets done. To see how it gets done, it was a little daunting to begin with. But once you get in there and because we have such a good group, that definitely helps,” she says.

Pit removals, upgrades and replacements, along with the installation of thermostat pits comprise of the majority of the teams works, which will soon also include the hauling of optic fibre cables and clearing of blockages to ducts underground. Harding says there’s still two years left on the contract.

“I’m definitely proud of the girls and how far they’ve come. They’ve stuck at it, and they should be proud too of what they’ve achieved so far,” Harding says. “Fulton Hogan has also been really supportive throughout my employment, particularly when it comes to recognising women in construction. I can’t fault them.”

Harcombe says Fulton Hogan’s values are there for all to see, from both micro and macro factors such as the representation of female staff, to the enjoyment and fulfillment on site.

“There’s a standard that everyone gets treated the same, you’re expected to help each other out. It’s just a great working environment. ‘Bec’ has been great as well as a supervisor, she’s always looking out for us,” she says.

“As much as she’s there to make sure we’re doing our jobs, she wants to make sure that we’re safe and that we’re having fun and having a laugh along the way. That’s something that we all really appreciate.”

Bulman believes the skills and experiences from this project will play a big part in each of the team member’s futures. Futures that by all accounts, look very bright. 

“The skills that we learn every day on the job are benefitting and going towards our future. Getting that experience in the construction industry and getting to know people in the industry could potentially help us out big time in the long term,” she says.

Harding adds that the progress made by Ward has been particularly impressive when it comes to the development of the project team.

“They just get down and get on with the job. The job entails some pretty heavy duty and hard work, but they never complain. I’m proud of all of them and Paige is really coming into her own as the Leading Hand. It’s great to see her confidence grow and develop within herself in that role,” she says.

“I tip my hat off to them.” 

This article was originally published in the May edition of our magazine. To read the magazine, click here.

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