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Emma's career has become a never-ending project

This article appears in: Alumni stories, Business and Accounting
Alumni Awards finalist Emma Bell

Emma Bell is a woman who knows what she wants. With a determined attitude and positive mindset, she’s successfully contributed to the delivery of Territory Government and Commonwealth Infrastructure and Capital Facilities & Infrastructure (CFI) projects respectively.

With more than 15 years of experience working in infrastructure and the built environment in planning, design development and construction Emma’s passion for project management knows no bounds. With projects spanning across multiple states and territories there’s no limit to where her career will go.

For the past decade, Emma has focused on delivering Defence CFI projects across multiple states and territories.

And it all started with a Bachelor of Business at CDU.

A sound foundation

During her time at CDU, Emma attained the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM) Student of the Year Award which gave her a great springboard for starting her career.

“Winning the AIPM award provided me with more opportunities, which led to being offered a job within the Northern Territory Government (NTG) Major Projects Division (now known as Department of Infrastructure, Logistics & Planning  (DIPL), and I was privileged to have a great mentor and be a part of creating three new sub-divisions, Johnston, Zuccoli and Bellamack," says Emma.

“The role with the NTG really enabled me to hone the skills I’d learned from studying while getting ‘hands-on’ experience in infrastructure construction, which was then very male dominated. From there I moved on to deliver significant Defence projects.”

Taking the lead

Emma has successfully project managed many Defence Estate capital works projects in the Northern Territory (NT) across most of the Training Areas, Army, Airforce and Navy establishments in Darwin and Katherine.

Most recently Emma and her TSA project team have successfully delivered the RAAF Base Darwin, Estate Base Master Plan preparations and design management of RAAF Base Darwin Mid Term Refresh (MTR) Master Plan Feasibility Review (MPFR) design.

Emma has also managed the delivery of many other Defence major projects outside of the NT around Australia. One in particular was to participate in a parliamentary works committee hearing for Defence in Queensland.

As skilled communicator and project manager she puts her success down to possessing emotional intelligence, being a good listener, having a calm nature, and always acting with integrity.

Helping others

“I was a slightly older student to my peers at CDU, and would often help guide some of the students, especially in group tasks,” says Emma.

“This came naturally to me, as I genuinely enjoy helping others, and I took those skills with me and now provide the same modus operandi in my work today."

I like to help, encourage and support co-workers in becoming the best project manager they can be.

"Ultimately a successful project manager possesses good communication skills, is a critical thinker, finds solutions not issues, and ask questions to validate and mitigate risk."

Keep on building

Quenching her thirst for education and a passion for protecting our environment we live and work in, and for the construction industry, Emma has gone on to achieve a postgraduate in teaching, become an affiliated professional for Green Building Council of Australia (GSAP), and undertaken an Advanced Diploma in Building & Construction Management.

“I see that climate change adaptation is now driving a significant part of planning, design and construction today," she says.

"For Defence, climate change adaptation is a critical element to ensuring the continued safety and protection of Defence personnel and surrounding communities and its constituent members, and provides assurances for Defence air, land and sea emerging capabilities to operate with deliberate resilience well into the future, so that they can work to protect our nation and respond quickly to coercive threats, and support in humanitarian efforts.” 

Solid advice

Empowered with her existing knowledge and experience, Emma would say one thing to her younger self.

Never think you can't do anything and ignore anyone who suggests that you're not good enough.

"Be resilient, have a goal in mind and be determined to get it, and never hold back because of your gender. The landscape for women in the construction industry has certainly changed since I started out… so what are you waiting for?”

Emma has received the Alumnus Award for Industry Excellence at the CDU Alumni Awards. Nomination are now open for 2022. 

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