May Women of WIDAC

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Get to know our wonderful community…

WIDAC is all about getting to know each other, so we are delighted to introduce nine of our talented WIDAC Members, in our very first Women of WIDAC series post!

Introducing these dynamic women from VIC, NSW and QLD…

Welcome to Women of WIDAC!

Victoria – based members:

Walesca Zanonato

Specialist Lighting Designer, Stantec

3 Likes: Australia (I love to call it home!). The concept design phase of a new project and all the sketching involved. The Buddhist way of letting things go.

3 Dislikes: Having to replace my lighting design with alternative luminaires. People who don’t second guess themselves. Coriander.

Why WIDAC: WIDAC is a warm, welcoming environment. From the seminars, to workshops, to the mentorship program to which I was part of, I have always felt like there are constant opportunities for growth and development. Most importantly, I feel part of a community, and when you have that, you have everything.

A recent project you’ve been involved with: Puffing Billy Railway Discovery Centre. I was lucky enough to design the luminaire clusters that showcase throughout the building. I feel grateful to have contributed to the amazing design of such an iconic tourism place.

A recent career highlight: Having designed the lighting concept for the New Footscray Hospital, a $1.5 billion project – the largest ever health infrastructure investment in the State of Victoria.

Judith Williamson

Project Coordinator, DKO Architecture

3 Likes: Architecturally-inspired fashion. The gym. Live music.

3 Dislikes: Weak Coffee. Humidity. Unlabelled layers in Photoshop.

Why WIDAC: The WIDAC platform and community has provided me many opportunities for upskilling and making valuable connections both professionally and personally.

A recent project you’ve been involved with: Breese St Brunswick (VIC). I was fortunate enough to be part of the team that delivered the Breese St Brunswick apartments for Milieu Property, which are a collaboration between DKO Architecture and Breathe Architecture. Completed in November 2020, Breese St is designed for daily living in easy synergy with our environment. The architecture reflects Brunswick’s industrial heritage with its materiality and modern interpretation of the warehouse/factory aesthetic, while its integral design initiatives importantly support living in a sustainable future. Being part of this project was extremely rewarding for me, and our whole team is very proud that it has been shortlisted for the 2021 House Awards for Sustainability, results to be announced in July.

A recent career highlight: Through DKO, I met and worked with YWCA Housing Australia – on what was their first build-to-rent project – set to deliver modern, safe and affordable accommodation prioritised first to particularly in-need Bendigo women and their children. After our proposal was accepted, our client continued on to select the wider consultant team to be highly represented with great women. Being selected to contribute to this, and work with all those who were involved, was both a humbling and meaningful experience for me. It’s a reminder of just some of ways the work of the A&D industry can really make a difference.

Josie Broad

Business Development | Account Manager, Eagle Lighting

3 Likes: Good food & wine. Good company. Playing hockey.

3 Dislikes: Bad drivers. Bad coffee. Today – I am disliking the thought of winter on its way!

Why WIDAC: I love hearing from and seeing so many talented women sharing their stories and empowering other women in such and supportive and engaging environment.

A recent project you’ve been involved with: Monash College – 750 Collins, Latrobe UNI LARTF Labs, Small but cool tenancy fit out at 100 Queen (&Collins), Westmont Aged Care, Meat Market.

A recent career highlight: Stepping into the role of developing one of our supply partner ranges here in Australia, and working with our teams to help steer our critical infrastructure market sector.

New South Wales – based members:

Kam Naidoo

Relationship Manager NSW & NZ, Unios Lighting Australia

Likes: Live music festivals. Cooking up a storm. Exploring new local eateries. 

Dislikes: Traffic in Sydney. Not being able to fly overseas right now. Lack of change/stale mindsets.

Why WIDAC: The simplicity in just bringing people together, breaking down any barriers that make people feel they are unapproachable or unable to approach others; WIDAC absolves a lot of those social barriers some may feel, at any level of experience in relevant industries. 

A recent project you’ve been involved with: Substation No.164 – Built Head Office project in Sydney CBD working with JHA Consulting engineers, Build and CES Electric. This project – from start to finish – has had a few challenges in how we approach the lighting from both a design aesthetic and an installation perspective; the lighting needed to adapt to a changing space, and agility was the key. I supported the builder and electrical contractor on site, and assisted the lighting designer with a changing scope along the way. The result is a beautifully-lit space capturing the essence of the heritage building, combined with innovation in lighting and control. There are exposed ceilings and niche areas within the workspace and breakout spaces, architectural features highlighted by horticultural lighting their green wall, and a continuously-lit handrail lighting system. 

A recent career highlight: When Unios approached me to write an article for their ‘Universal Light magazine‘,  a not-for-profit publication that is globally supported/read by the lighting industry-wide community. The feature was focused on Women in Lighting, of which I am a huge advocate in supporting nationally. My article focused on creating trust in a knowledge economy as sales people and in representing a manufacturer. This was a highlight for me as it really allowed me to publish my thoughts around breaking barriers of communication in our industry and thinking outside the norms of a money-driven sales role – really capturing what it means to have a consultative sales approach and in turn create lasting relationships.

Sandhya Chavan 

Structural Engineer, Bluescope Steel

Likes: Reading, Travels. Quiet times. 

Dislikes: Loud stuff. Stereotypes. Toxic environments.

Why WIDAC: WIDAC is where I expect to meet like-minded women, paving the way for a new generation in the male-dominated industry (so far). 

A recent project you’ve been involved with: I’ve just started my role at Bluescope, so am looking forward to projects of the future!

A recent career highlight: I’m excited to have taken up a job in a ‘brownfield’ project, which is not only challenging but also demanding, as my previous experience as a structural engineer is working on ‘greenfield’ projects. 

Chiara Paolini

Architect, Mayoh Architects and NSW Steering committee of Australian Architects Declare

Likes:  Drinking ‘mate’ (Argentinian tea) early in the mornings while speaking with my family in Argentina. Outdoor sports, from bushwalking in Sydney to field hockey games on the weekends. Inspirational podcasts: Ken Robinson, Jeremy Rifkin, and most importantly: How To Fail by Elizabeth Day.

Dislikes: Horror or suspense movies. When people refer to US as the whole of America. Slimy food.

Why WIDAC: The support and advice on career development received, not only from other women in the construction environment, but also from inspirational women that I met in every WIDAC event, has been key to navigate the uncertainty of 2020. This not only has given me the energy and inspiration to continue supporting younger generations and other women but also the confidence to continue to challenge the difficulties of leveraging diversity and gender equality in the construction sector where women and other under-represented groups are always a minority. 

A recent project you’ve been involved with: The redevelopment of Nine Elms or The Knightsbridge Estate beside Harrods (UK, London).

A recent career highlight: After investing a lot of personal time and energy in my voluntary membership with Beyond Zero Emissions and AAD; a personal highlight was persuading my boss to begin the process of carbon neutrality for his company.

Queensland – based members:

Nadia Schwarz

Business Developer and Founder, Group 2 Acoustic Research 

Likes: Food. Coffee & running. Should also say my kids 😊.

Dislikes: BS (am I allowed to say that?) if not, Liquorice. Litter bugs. Politics.

Why WIDAC: Why not WIDAC? I am a strong believer in knowledge is power and giving back which I feel WIDAC does very well. WIDAC gives me the support to go out there and meet those in the Construction and Design industry with confidence too. 

A recent project you’ve been involved with: We recently had a small project to assist a gym owner with a DA. I really enjoyed the fact that the gym owner understood the importance of getting the acoustic part of the build right. After 10 years of battling with many who aren’t familiar with how acoustics within a building can help create the right atmosphere etc., it was refreshing to come to Brisbane and meet with an end client who was receptive to the importance of acoustics.

A recent career highlight: Taking charge of the new office in Brisbane has been a huge career highlight for me. It’s been a challenge to learn the who, what, where, when and why of a new location. But when we received our first RFP after only three months of hitting the ground, I was immensely proud of the work, for the team and myself.  

Taylor Beauchamp 

Traffic Engineering Consultant, TTM Consulting

Likes: Dogs. Chocolate. Board games.

Dislikes: Humidity. Turkish delight. Losing board games.

Why WIDAC: WIDAC is a female driven group, with focus on the design and construction industry which is relevant to my profession.

A recent project you’ve been involved with: I’ve been working on the Agri-Tourism development at Barns Lane, Coolum – see details here.  

A recent career highlight: My return to work after going on maternity leave in 2020.

Libby Crocker

Assistant Project Manager, TSA Management Pty Ltd

Likes: Thalassophile (lover of the ocean). Anything topped, dressed, tossed or infused with truffle. Mingling over beverages and live music whether that be country, EDM or any genre in between. 

Dislikes: Not being at the beach. Being unaccomplished. Not having somewhat of a plan for the weekend. 

Why WIDAC: A wonderful group of women, and men, whom I can listen to, learn from and collaborate with. 

A recent project you’ve been involved with: I’m currently working as an Assistant Project Manager/ Superintendent for the Australian Federal Police on a large training facility refurbishment. The location, status and scope of the project must remain undisclosed. Construction is focused on security, safety of personnel, training requirements of the recruits and future-proofing the facility for expansion and extended use for other national and international forces. The learnings from this project have been steep, rewarding, eye opening and great exposure as my first project.

A recent career highlight: Getting a job I enjoy, and even love, during my final semester at university last year. TSA has introduced me to some great Defence and infrastructure projects, a welcoming culture and incredible expertise. Every day is a great day to be in the office!

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