Watching Rachael Turner confidently manage her team amongst the chaos of a half-built construction site, it's easy to assume that she's had a long career in the industry. But Rachael hasn't always worn steel-capped boots to work.
Her first career was worlds away, as a classically-trained pianist running her own music school. But after 10 years in the music industry, she decided to pursue her childhood passion for construction. She now runs her own design and construction business, Front Porch Properties, renovating and building classic, American-style homes in and around Brisbane.
"I've always been really interested in construction. Since I was a little girl I can remember being fascinated by building and homes, and was always doodling floor plans and house elevations. I guess there was something inside me that really wanted to become licensed builder," Rachael said.
"It's really an exciting job for me getting to run my company and work closely with my tradespeople to transform ugly ducklings into beautiful homes," she said.
Rachael realised her childhood dream of becoming a qualified builder by completing her Certificate IV in Building and Construction at TAFE Queensland, and still uses the knowledge and skills from her qualification in her current role.
"There's so many things from TAFE that I'm able to apply every day. All of the units were very relevant and the course was really hands on," she said.
She also created long-lasting relationships with her teachers who guided her throughout her study journey.
"I have really fond memories of all of my teachers, they were all really enthusiastic and interested in my learning. A couple of them I'm still good friends with now. One of them is actually a building mentor of mine, and I regularly turn to him for advice," she said.
While Rachael finds working in the construction industry incredibly rewarding, it's also had its fair share of challenges along the way. Not everyone has been receptive to having the only woman on site as their boss.
"It's been a really interesting journey being a female in the construction industry. It was definitely a harder journey at the start, but now that I've got a little bit of momentum behind me it's a lot easier," she said.
Rachael takes it all in her stride and is passionate about standing out and making a difference in the industry that she loves.
"I'm determined to make a dent in the industry, just to do things a little bit differently. I want our company to be known for having extremely high standards, and I want people to know that my team of people really care about the quality of the work that happens on site," she said.
While Rachael enjoyed her time running her music school, it's clear she couldn't be happier about making the career change into the building industry.
"It often surprises me how many people I come across who are not satisfied in their daily job. I kind of figure you're spending a good majority of your life in your daily job so it's important that you love those hours of your life. There's no point in waking up, going to work, and going home at night and being unsatisfied, you don't want to be sleepwalking through your life."
Her advice to people who are considering making a career change is to take that first step into a career that you're truly passionate about.
"I would definitely encourage anyone thinking of making a career change to back themselves, take the plunge, and do what it is that you really love to do," she said.
"I love my job, it's a joy to get out of bed every morning."