15 years ago Anna Galea took the advice of a career counsellor and swapped her successful event management career for a hard hat, jumping boots and all into the renovations of the Sydney Marriott. These days she is PM of leading construction company Sydney East Constructions, and one of Small Builders favourite clients.
“My title is Project Manager and I work across everything. I go on site, meet with clients, do all the paperwork from organising contracts, invoicing, pay all the guys, plus the marketing. Yep, I pretty much do everything. I run the company with my husband. We usually have two to three projects running at a time, sometimes up to five. With the business and two small children, you could say we’re pretty busy”.
What drew you in to construction?
“I’m degree qualified in hospitality management and I did probably 12 years in events. I got to the point where I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I needed change but I didn’t want to go back to Uni and learn a whole new skill set so I went to a career counsellor. “You’d be great in project management” she said, “it’s the same thing – managing people to a deadline or timeline, working budgets and client service” and that was that.
My first job working with the project manager renovating the Sydney Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay. The project manager needed someone with a hospitality background and I had completed a traineeship in hotel management. I knew every department and how it worked, who to speak to and all that; we worked well with each other. He taught me pretty much everything I needed to know in terms of running a project in construction.
From there I did high-end, luxurious commercial retail stores like Tiffany Jewellery stores, Scanlan and Theodore retail, and restaurants and bars. Commercial construction and high-end residential, which is our specialty at Sydney East Constructions”.
What has been a consistent business challenge for you?
“I think understanding the building process is something a lot of clients can’t get their head around. They watch shows like Reno Rumble or The Block and think you can renovate in a week. In reality, delays happen, and for various reasons, from subcontractors taking longer on another job to bad weather or illness – all which can have a knock-on effect in the production line”.
Another frustration is clients not understanding the importance of preparation time. They might see a bathroom renovation for example and have a particular price in mind but what they don’t understand is it’s never just a bathroom off the shelf. There are things to consider like if the waterproofing has been done correctly. Where we’re working at the moment for example is in a flood zone. This means things have to be done differently so that the piles we put in it don’t rust. These are costs you only discover when you start digging because you don’t know where you’ll hit the water table”.
So good communication is important?
“I’d say listening and patience are two incredibly important skills”.
What is something else valuable you can share about business, maybe for someone new to the game?
“Get with Small Builders! Truly, you can spend a lot of time setting up a project let alone a business, and these are things Small Builders does for you quite instantaneously. I believe I’ve saved thousands and thousands of dollars time-wise.
I would recommend it to anybody, even those without project management experience. It just takes away so much paperwork. Another huge advantage is having a legal presence back you. I love how all our contracts are up to date and legal. Legislation changes all the time and it’s something I can’t be on top of – all the different terms that have to be put in, taken out, and what requirements you need from all your subcontractors, all of that is taken care of and streamlined in one spot, it’s brilliant.
Overall though, when it comes to running our business, time is the greatest gift and that’s what Small Builders has given me – more time, for me, my kids, my family. Can you tell I’m a raving fan?”
Awww… thanks Anna…
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