Master Builders appoints first woman CEO in 127 years

Rachel Ziv 9 March 2017
Debita Wawn

Denita Wawn, former CEO of the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand, has been appointed the CEO of Master Builders Australia. She is the first ever female CEO in the organisation’s 127 year history.

National President of Master Builders, Mr Dan Perkins says, “Denita’s qualities, skills and experience as a highly accomplished industry leader and advocate saw her emerge as the successful candidate from the comprehensive recruitment process undertaken by the Board. The Board is confident that Mrs Wawn’s leadership will see the implementation of its vision for Master Builders as a modern, credible and influential national voice for its more than 32,000 members.”

Mrs Wawn, who has spent more than 12 months as General Manager Operations at Master Builders, is incredibly passionate about the building and construction industry and supporting the companies behind it.

“I’m a big believer in the power of one voice. Master Builders represents an industry where 98% are small to medium-sized businesses, and they simply don’t have the time or resources to advocate for industry change. Having a large collective body that can do that on their behalf is so important. Building and construction is integral to everything – particularly the local economy. Everything we live in, work in and rely upon has to be built. And I love working in an industry where the results of what we do are so visible.”

Of being the first female CEO in the history of the organisation, Mrs Wawn says, “Of course, it is an absolute honour. It came as a result of a very rigorous and merit-based selection process, so in the end it just happened to be a woman who was awarded the role. But the board had the quality of leadership to recognise that appointing a female leader does demonstrate that women are welcome in this industry. Currently less than 10% of our (building and construction) workforce is female. We need more.”

Mrs Wawn is a wife and mother of two boys, and says that Canberra offers unique opportunities to achieving the often difficult work/life balance.

“Working in Canberra means we’re usually 20 minutes from anywhere. So if you’re able, it’s great to be able to embrace that and scoot off to your kid’s school for a fun run or assembly, and then head back to work in reasonable time. In other cities this simply isn’t possible.

Yes, I love my job and work incredibly hard. But when I get home, it’s quality time with my husband and kids. I have a very supportive family, and I am supportive of them too. It’s a team effort that enables us all to achieve what we want in work and family life.”

Mrs Wawn will assume the position as of 20 March 2017, and is the third CEO to take the reigns of Master Builders in thirty years.

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