Cathy Hayes: spearheading change – Inside Construction

Cathy Hayes, Head of Client and Strategy NSW & ACT at CPB Contractors.

Head of Client and Strategy NSW & ACT at CPB Contractors Cathy Hayes shares her journey of championing positive change, collaboration, and sustainability in the construction industry.

Driving a relationship-driven partnerships approach, Cathy Hayes joined CPB Contractors in 2017 in strategy and development. Now Head of Client and Strategy NSW & ACT, she continues to support a collaborative and inclusive environment.

Hayes looks at projects holistically, ensuring the company is not only delivering physical assets such as a building or road, but also a legacy. Her position as Director on the Australian Constructors Association (ACA) board further facilitates a key objective of her role with CPB Contractors – helping the business better collaborate with its clients.

“Being involved with the ACA provides insight into what our clients want now, but more importantly how we can work together to build a more sustainable industry,” says Hayes. “The projects we deliver can take years to complete, so it’s important we take a long-term perspective.”

“I am passionate about conversations that create better outcomes for the industry’s future.”

Hayes works in the bidding space, writing strategy and guiding decisions that drive positive long-term outcomes for CPB Contractors and its clients. This involves listening to what a client wants and delivering it well and researching and implementing strategic advice that improves business efficiency.

The strategy leader began her career as a registered architect, working for medium sized firms on projects such as the buildings and infrastructure for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. From there, Hayes started her own business which she ran for 12 years, before moving into a project manager position for Housing New South Wales.

Hayes joined global architectural practice Woods Bagot in 2011, stepping away from architectural design and into a management position. “My job was to make sure that the studio was profitable, that we were hiring the right people and fostering a design-centric culture to make sure that we were delivering to our value proposition,” she explains.

“That’s when I started doing my Executive Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and started to get really excited about strategically directing a sustainable built environment.”

Juggling full time work and motherhood, Hayes completed her MBA and took the time to study overseas in London, studying courses in strategy, systems thinking and complexity theory. “I think these courses really helped me in ways I never knew they would in terms of my understanding of these really big projects that are coming to market now, like the renewable energy zones in New South Wales,” she says. “CPB Contractors is tackling complex projects every day and I think that these courses have really assisted me in thinking outside of the box.”

Not long after, Hayes joined an architecture and planning start-up called Ridley, now known as Willow, as a principal. It was a company that was looking to disrupt the architecture profession with technology.

“We started to look at how we could use technology to maintain an asset with predictive maintenance, now commonly known as a digital twin,” she says. “I did that for some years, and it was a really exciting phase in my career.”

This led her to join CPB Contractors in 2017, a move that Hayes says was a big step up in her career. “CPB Contractors is Australia’s leading contractor and digital engineering is an everyday requirement with sophisticated digital frameworks enabling efficient delivery and innovation,” she says. “I really valued the opportunity to learn more about these developments in a large company.”

Working in the New South Wales arm of the business, she supports the delivery of, among others, Sydney’s Pitt Street Station; as well as the 39-storey build-to-rent residential tower – Indi Sydney City – under construction over the station’s southern entrance; and the commercial tower – Parkline Place – to be built above the station’s northern entrance.

Hayes has supported delivery of various building and infrastructure projects such as the hospital redevelopments at Royal North Shore, Nepean, and Campbelltown campuses in Sydney.

“I’ve worked on a range of healthcare projects that have transformed their community’s access to care within in a modern, patient centric environment,” says Hayes. “The community really gets behind health projects, which is important to a successful outcome.”

“I’m really proud of being a part of the CPB Contractors team. These redevelopments are founded in patient-centred care, and the health construction teams at CPB Contractors are experts in what they do and are personally committed to the outcome. We’re helping meet the needs of the local community and it’s a great feeling.”

As a director at the ACA, Hayes is also immersed in the conversations that are spearheading change. The ACA team is tackling the hard topics around creating a sustainable industry, identifying future industry challenges, and creating an attractive and diverse industry.

“The ACA is growing its ability to influence,” says Hayes. “I’ve only been a director at the association for a little over a year, and I feel as though I can be effective and lead industry change.”

“It’s really exciting to be contributing to the future of the construction industry.”

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