Creative and Innovative Leader Walks the Gender Balance Talk

Known for his innovative design solutions in the property and buildings sector, Phil Gardiner joined Irwinconsult – a WSP company – in 1979.

With the firm since its early days, Phil’s passion for bringing incredible architectural buildings to life has never wavered. He says, “I’ve always loved architecture and have enjoyed working closely with architects. Over the years this has lent itself to many great relationships and award-winning designs.”


Speaking about his career journey, Phil believes that as a leader it is still important to always remain relevant. For him that means, being up to date with technical skills and client relationships.


He says “Structural engineering requires fascinating technical work that allows for creativity and innovation in design. That is why I ended up going down this career path and even though I’m the manager of a big team now, I still enjoy my project work.”


Having been a Director since the early 90s, Phil has noticed a big shift in workplace culture.


“Culturally and ethically I have seen the workplace become more accepting and diverse. I believe this has led to our workplace becoming less egocentric and more collaborative as well as flatter from an organisational perspective.


“I also think that the more diverse a workplace is, the easier it becomes to hire diverse people. It’s important to keep momentum going because our industry needs to adapt to contemporary thinking.”


Phil also believes there is a role for managers to elevate the diversity and inclusion conversation. He explains, “Part of being a leader means employing the people for the right role. It’s crucial to stretch people to develop but not to squeeze them into a role that they aren’t quite right for.


“With respect to gender balance, policies such as flexible work means we aren’t squeezing people out of their roles. This has had an immeasurable impact on helping mothers, fathers and carers manage their work-life balance.”


In amongst managing a firm and being a father to three children and seven grandchildren, downtime can be hard to come by.


He says, “Recently I’ve been helping my partner setup a new wine bar in Darwin which has been awesome. I have a new-found taste for gins, craft beer and the odd glass of wine. I also love my old Mercedes so enjoy getting out for a drive as well!”


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