Kirsty McVicar wins CCNZ Hynds Women in Contracting Winner 2021

Congratulations to Kirsty McVicar, who’s been named as the CCNZ Hynds Women in Contracting Winner 2021!

As a participant in this year’s Activate Leadership Programme, it comes with great pride to see Kirsty’s work and career in the civil construction industry acknowledged through this incredible award.

An unshakeable work ethic, a raft of exciting projects and strong career principals have held Kirsty in great stead for this award. So to celebrate the occasion, we caught up with Kirsty to reflect on these, her experience in Activate, her advice for women in STEM industries, hopes for the future and more!


What does winning the CCNZ Hynds Women in Contracting 2021 award mean to you?

It was a surprise and real honour to receive this award. After many years in the construction industry, the satisfaction and drive for my work definitely comes from the fantastic people I get to work with and the complex and challenging work we do. So to receive recognition for what I love to do was unexpected & a very special experience!

What have been the most exciting, rewarding (or your favourite) projects that you’ve worked on in your career to date?

It is hard to pick one! I have been lucky to work on some really significant construction projects in New Zealand and overseas. Local projects include the Victoria Park Tunnel, Northern Busway & Grafton Gully Motorway Junction. In London on the London Overground Rail & some major structures on the M25. More recently I was part of the ‘Waikato 50’ Project where we had to construct a new water treatment plant capable of producing 50 million litres per day of drinking water for Auckland as part of Watercare’s drought relief projects. This was done in an extremely tight 10-month construction timeframe and was an incredible project to be a part of.

What pieces of advice would you share with young women interested in a career in the STEM industry?

Without hesitation I would say go for it! The civil engineering/construction industry I am in is extremely rewarding, brings exciting challenges, is filled with motivated and like-minded people, and offers no end for great thinking and continuous improvement. It takes a good amount of drive and practicality in thinking, and there is nothing more satisfying than looking back on the bridge, road or building you helped construct. I’ve loved my time in this industry — it is never boring, often challenging, but always rewarding.

Having worked in the construction industry my entire career, I hope I have managed to show some of the younger female engineers and staff who wish to follow a similar path that you don’t have to change your approach or who you are to be a part of this place — as it takes all sorts!

How have your experiences so far in Activate shaped your approach to work/leadership/yourself?

I have met some amazing women through the Activate Leadership Programme and it has really helped me realise we face similar challenges no matter what the industry! Through working alongside some really talented and motivated women on our leadership skills whilst at Activate, it has given me some really good tools for challenging situations, leading your team and navigating a
career path in general.

What principles have underpinned your approach to work, leadership and your overall career?

Always maintaining enthusiasm, treating people with respect, and building good relationships seem to be my guiding principles that I always stay true to. Enthusiasm seems to be a natural, inherited trait which has proved extremely useful at more trying times when facing really challenging situations or complex problems or projects! Building great relationships is essential because a team that respects each other, and are motivated to work together to achieve great outcomes can achieve amazing things.

What are your hopes for the future?

I 100% wish to continue my role in the delivery of construction projects. I love the people, the practicality, and challenge that the construction industry brings, so my passion is to pursue and successfully manage exciting and complex projects going forward. As time goes on I am also committed to contribute more broadly to the industry by developing others as much as I can, and contributing back through continuous improvement in the way we manage and deliver our projects.

What other elements are you hoping to learn and take in your stride as part of your time in Activate?

We had only made it half way through our course before lockdown hit Auckland. However, when we see a return to Activate I look forward to reconnecting with my Cohort — everyone would have seen different challenges and successes over their time in lockdown and remote working and I look forward to sharing and hearing some stories!

Each module has had some really vital personal learnings and is very inspiring – I really look forward to our next modules which are to focus on purposeful leadership and navigating change.