Camille Sevestre came to Australia as a civil engineering exchange student. She has found her calling here: managing key education projects.
Having spent just four years working in Australia, Camille Sevestre, Cost Manager at Turner & Townsend’s Sydney office has already made quite an impact.
In 2019 she was selected to be a member of the Property Council of Australia’s 500 Women in Property program, she currently represents Turner & Townsend through the French-Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and, most recently, she won the Scholarship for Future Leaders at the New South Wales National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Annual Awards Night, held in Sydney late last year.
Sevestre leads nine education projects worth more than $150 million, and the judges for the award were impressed with her passion for Australia’s construction industry.
As the daughter of expatriates, Sevestre travelled extensively while growing up, so moving from France to Australia in 2016 after finishing her master’s degree in engineering was an easy decision.
“I always knew I wanted to move abroad again. I’ve always loved Australia – the lifestyle; everything over here is amazing,” Sevestre said.
“As part of my studies I did my final exchange semester in Australia and decided to stay after that.”
Initially working for a contractor, she made the transition to client-side consultancy in April 2017, taking on the role of Graduate Cost Manager with Turner & Townsend in Sydney.
“I quickly realised that I was more attracted to client-side consultancy [and] I’ve been working in the cost management field ever since,” Sevestre said.
Focus on community
Since joining Turner & Townsend, she has primarily been working on projects in the education sector, involving the development of new and existing schools in NSW. She is currently working on nine schools, four of which have recently reached completion, in addition to the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre project.
Through her work in the education sector, Sevestre enjoys the opportunity to contribute to community-centred projects.
“It’s particularly gratifying to see firsthand how these projects can have a positive impact on the children and young people who benefit from these facilities,” she said.
One of Sevestre’s key achievements was managing a project with a group of schools in Western Sydney. This involved the redevelopment of four schools that had reached capacity, primarily by replacing temporary demountable buildings with new permanent buildings.
When she joined the team in 2017, Sevestre commenced work on the concept design phase of the project. She saw the project through detailed design and on to construction, which was completed in April this year.
“It was the first project I handled by myself that came to completion,” she said.
“So, it was really gratifying seeing it through.”
Among the group’s achievements are a multipurpose court, concrete pathway and landscaped areas, and renovated house façades. Sevestre believes the most rewarding aspect of the work was being able to make positive changes to the community’s living conditions.
“The highlight was seeing the positive impact we were able to make and in particular the children who were delighted to have a new playing court,” Sevestre said.
“It was an extremely humbling experience. It showed that even with limited time and resources, we are able to make a positive impact around us.”
Sevestre’s manager, Daniel Butterick, Associate Director at Turner & Townsend, said she is a strong leader within the industry.
“In my book, there are two types of leaders — verbal leaders who are ‘team captain’ types, and then there’s somebody who’s a leader in terms of the quality of what they deliver,” he said.
“And I think Sevestre is one of the latter. She has strong leadership through the quality of work she delivers.”
Butterick said her attention to detail, her unwavering work ethic and her communication skills are among her strengths as an engineer.
“It’s always a good testament when the client does not phone me anymore and they contact Camille,” he said.
As she progresses further into her career in construction, Sevestre aims to broaden her experience, ideally within the property sector.
“I’m interested in a variety of things within the property sector, such as offices and building new residential developments. The leisure centre that I’m working on at the moment is really interesting as well,” she said.
“But at the same time, I love working in the education sector, so it’s about finding that balance.”
As part of her award win, Sevestre will be supported by NAWIC in undertaking $4000 worth of training in leadership and management. She would like to focus on training that develops her soft management skills. She also hopes to use her recognition to help drive change in the industry.
“The construction industry is one that still faces many inequalities, but I’m delighted to see so many people and organisations in the industry driving change,” Sevestre said.
“I hope to contribute to the positive change which is currently occurring and to support and encourage more women to become active members of the industry.”