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Kelsey Godwin-Smith: Advancing to new heights

Kelsey Godwin-Smith: advancing to new heights

In 2022, Kelsey Godwin-Smith, an experienced architectural designer in the built environment, shifted gears and joined the construction industry, signalling a fresh and exciting chapter in her career.

Kelsey Godwin-Smith has charted a distinctive course into the construction industry, diverging from the typical career paths often observed in the sector. As a passionate design professional, her journey began in the world of architecture, with tenures at various architectural firms, including her most recent role at Billard Leece Partnership (BLP).

While traditional architectural positions often entail minimal onsite involvement, the landscape shifted amid the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to her increased presence on construction sites. It was during this period that Godwin-Smith seized the opportunity to step up as a site design lead, as part of BLP, for the $632 million Campbelltown Hospital Stage 2 Redevelopment, which was delivered by Health Infrastructure in partnership with South Western Sydney Local Health District and builder CPB Contractors. Reflecting on the project, she emphasises how it afforded her increased exposure to the construction facets of the built environment.

“As someone constantly seeking new challenges, working onsite of the Campbelltown Hospital Redevelopment affirmed that the construction industry offers the level of challenge I thrive on,” says Godwin-Smith. “Collaborating with the CPB Contractors team not only exposed me to the intricacies of a site environment but also reinforced my enthusiasm for working with a large and supportive team.”

These experiences ultimately influenced her decision to join ADCO Constructions (ADCO) in 2022. Transitioning from architecture to construction design was a significant change, yet Godwin-Smith found her skillset, especially in project management, translated seamlessly into this new field.

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In her previous role as an associate/project lead at BLP, Godwin-Smith was tasked with managing people, collaborating with consultants and ensuring organisational efficiency. Consequently, many of these skills were transferable to her new position in the construction industry.

“Coming from an architecture background, entering the construction sector felt like being thrown in the deep end, especially given that many in the field have studied construction management, possessing more extensive technical expertise,” she says. “The initial experience was intimidating, but I soon discovered that my distinctive background allowed me to offer a fresh perspective and unique skills.”

“ADCO was also very supportive in my journey and offered a range of training and development programs that assisted me in adapting to the transition and advancing my career.

“I bring a different voice to the room, and by sharing that voice my confidence within my role continues to grow – this, I believe, is a key factor in my success in this field.”

Starting as a design manager at ADCO, Godwin-Smith quickly progressed to the position of senior design manager within six months of joining the company. This swift advancement aligns with ADCO’s strong focus on providing development opportunities for women in construction and supporting career pathways in management.

In her current capacity, she orchestrates the involvement of consultants, supervises design and construct (D&C) trades and ensures the delivery of outcomes that align with budget and program, all while meeting specific site and client requirements. Her scope of responsibility spans the entire design process, necessitating the efficient and accurate development of each design to guarantee site readiness within tight time frames.

“On any given day, I could have 50 people coming to me seeking direction and advice on how to move forward with the design,” says Godwin-Smith. “The dynamic nature of my work ensures that each day presents new challenges and opportunities.”

Currently, Godwin-Smith is leading the design efforts for a $250 million hospital redevelopment for the NSW Government. As the appointed building contractor, ADCO is delivering the project, which includes the development of crucial facilities such as an emergency department, maternity and paediatric services, operating theatres, surgical and medical inpatient units, medical imaging and ambulatory and outpatient services.

In addition to her role in the hospital redevelopment, Godwin-Smith is managing the design for a major school relocation project in New South Wales, where initial works have begun onsite. ADCO is the main works contractor for the project, which involves the delivery of modern flexible learning spaces for up to 1,500 students; a new library, canteen and administration spaces; a multi-purpose sports and performance hall; a new outdoor sports field and courts; and landscaped recreation and outdoor learning spaces.

In her initial venture into the construction industry, Godwin-Smith primarily focused on education projects. However, she says her true passion lies within the health sector.

“With the state intensifying its investment in health infrastructure, there are a wealth of opportunities in this field,” she says. “I particularly enjoy the intricacies of these projects and find satisfaction in their complexity.”

Godwin-Smith says she finds the most fulfillment in her work when engaging in meaningful projects, particularly those within the health domain.

“Creating solutions that directly contribute to the wellbeing and advancement of the community is a gratifying experience,” she says. “Also, collaborating with a diverse team of consultants adds another layer of enjoyment to my work – the industry is teeming with talented individuals, making each day both challenging and rewarding.”

This commitment and dedication to the projects she undertakes earned Godwin-Smith the Young Achiever Award at the ADCO annual staff conference in July of last year. Another source of pride for her is achieving the position of associate at the young age of 25.

“In the field of architecture, reaching a leadership role often requires considerable time and dedication, making this achievement one I’m very proud of, and one I encourage more women to consider,” says Godwin-Smith. “The construction industry is a great place to work and has so many different career opportunities.”

Drawing on her wealth of experience and accomplishments, Kelsey Godwin-Smith has recently assumed a leadership role in the NSW Women of ADCO program. She views this as a significant opportunity to inspire and support younger women within the company, further reinforcing her commitment to fostering growth and diversity in the construction industry.

Despite being in the early stages of her construction industry career, Kelsey Godwin-Smith has already made significant strides, serving as a testament to the diverse pathways that can lead to success in this sector.

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