Althea Papinczak is the Founder and current National Director of Women in Design and Construction.
Brisbane-based Althea founded WIDAC in 2016, having identified a gap in the market for engaging, unfiltered, honest and fun networking events. Having worked within design and construction for a number of years, and having developed an extensive knowledge of these markets, Althea is across the real, everyday challenges that come along with being a woman in these heavily made-dominated industries.
Althea met Erin at SHAPE 6 years ago where they and a few other women attended networking events on a casual basis, finding time and time again they were expensive, irrelevant or unrelatable. They both needed a networking group that was welcoming, comfortable and genuine, where speakers are open, honest and relatable, encouraging others to be the same. After attending a ‘how to dress for your body shape’ event, Althea decided she wanted to create what she was really looking for. With absolutely no experience hosting a networking event, she got the ball rolling with a listing on Meetup, Erin and a few other colleagues from SHAPE and her previous workplace, plus a few friends. It was an amazing feeling for Althea to stand in front of the 22 ladies at the first event and start speaking, realising no one was there hoping she would fail. They were there for support, with the aim to meet new people. She felt her fears melt away and since that night, knows firsthand that honesty is the best way to connect with people. Erin was there at the very first event and put her hand up to get involved, from there enjoying the next 5 years running the company alongside Althea as National Director.
Althea remains committed to providing a platform for women who work in industries in which women have traditionally been under-represented and works tirelessly to ensure that WIDAC takes a collaborative, participative and inclusive approach to creating and driving change. Not only does Althea work internally within WIDAC, but also part-time as the Client Development Manager for Fore Group as well as being a busy mum of 2 alongside her wonderful and supportive husband Jon.
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Over the years we have expanded from Brisbane, to Sydney, Melbourne and now are ready to launch our first roadshow events across Australia. We are an event and networking organisation with over 35 National and State based team members, thousands of members and a list of incredible Sponsors – all of whom have helped us grow WIDAC (Women in Design and Construction) to what it is today. All of our content is carefully curated to ensure we explore diverse topics, address issues faced by women, develop technical skills relevant to the industry, provide insights and advice for professional development, and explore the human situations we all encounter. Our speakers come from all experience levels, with professions ranging from design, construction, engineering, to property development (just to name a few… we are such a varied group!). We believe the real magic of WIDAC lies in our community of women working across disciplines, coming together to support each other, and grow as a collective.
Over 5 1/2 years, WIDAC has grown to be a force to be reckoned with – made up of a large community of over 15,000 women and men who are willing to address systemic issues, bring ideas to the table, and most of all, take a positive, problem-solving and proactive approach. WIDAC delivers 70+ events and workshops each year, and 5+ national initiatives with a focus on mentoring, continued education, and ongoing support for women at all stages of their career – from students and graduates, to established professionals and executives.
FIVE YEARS LATER HERE I AM, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF OUR 'ACCIDENTAL BUSINESS'
The WIDAC Team thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us on this journey. We hope that whenever you attend an event you feel inspired, challenged, connected and empowered in the same way we have been throughout creating this platform. We both hope that WIDAC can influence the design, construction and related industries from the ground up and we can help more women on their pathway to success and leadership. The team and I can’t wait to welcome you again soon.
Thanks so much –