NZ WIC Scholarship winner accepting award

NZ WIC Scholarship Winner Credits Old Boss

Denise Batchelor doesn’t mind admitting she went to school to eat her lunch.

But once out of school, and after a stint in hospitality, Denise found herself immersed in the construction industry with a boss who helped her realise her potential.

“She pushed me, she knew what I could do, and all it took was for someone behind me to back me and tell me I've got this,” says the Auckland-based Construction and Health & Safety Administrator.  

Denise is the winner of the HammerTech Women In Construction Scholarship at the 2024 Site Safe Health, Safety and Wellbeing Awards.    

Denise and Brett Murray cropped

Site Safe CEO Brett Murray with Women In Construction Scholarship winner Denise Batchelor.

Each year Site Safe supports the health and safety leaders of the future by providing scholarships to complete higher-level learning. Scholarship recipients are assessed on criteria including leadership skills, commitment to safety, and work ethic.

Denise completed Site Safe’s Health & Safety in Construction Programme last year.

Winning the Women In Construction scholarship and making the decision to go back to study means a lot to Denise.

“I'm really proud of myself,” she smiles. “It does mean a lot to me, and it gives me the motivation to put myself out there and try new things – so happy days.” 

How long have you been in construction? 

For about 12 years. I started off in a reception role for a company and I am just about to start a new role after spending the last seven years at G.J. Gardner Manukau Major Projects as their construction administrator. 

Tell us the story about how you got into the construction industry?

By the luck of the gods, to be honest. In my previous role, when I was in reception, we used to process building consents.

One of the companies we processed consents for was a G.J. Gardner franchise and I made a good connection with one of the ladies that worked there. Eventually, she became a franchisee, and then she said, ‘Ok, you're coming to work for me’. And the rest is history. She was also the same person who pushed me to apply for the Women In Construction Scholarship.

What do you love about construction?

I love everything about it. The people, and watching the buildings grow. You start off with a blank field, and then you end with this amazing house or tower or whatever. It's just awesome watching it grow and being involved in the whole process.

Did you ever picture yourself being in the construction industry?

No way. Originally, way back when I was in hospitality, that was going to be my life. Then I moved into other careers and fell into construction and can't believe the love and passion that I have for it – and I just want to stay in it.

So what do women bring to the construction industry do you think?

I think it is a different way of thinking. We have a different perspective on things than guys do. We’re also able to take a step back and look at the wider picture. So, for me it's all about having a different perspective from the guys. But I also love being one of the guys too! It's a great atmosphere. For me it's about being part of a family, and the people who I work with become my family.

Group shot of winner and nominees with Ben

HammerTech CEO Ben Leach with Pasifika scholarship winner, Andrea Day; Women In Construction Scholarship nominee, Elizabeth Lowans; and Women In Construction Scholarship winner Denise Batchelor.