Civil Contractors New Zealand has elected the first female president in its 78-year history.
Napier business consultant and former Gair Contracting Managing Director Bailey Gair was elected unopposed at the organisation’s AGM on Thursday 4 August, replacing outgoing president Tony Pike of Downer at the helm of the association representing the aspirations of New Zealand’s civil construction industry.
Ms Gair has been on CCNZ’s Executive Council since 2015, serving her most recent term as Vice President. Her election as president highlights the changing face of an industry more and more women are choosing to build their careers in.
She acknowledged the immense efforts of immediate past president Mr Pike during a particularly challenging few years for New Zealand’s civil contractors.
“Tony has done a great job setting the executive up for success and helping to guide CCNZ and our industry though the lockdowns and changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has been a turbulent couple of years and his leadership has been outstanding.”
In the year ahead sustainability would be a big focus for the industry, with new technology and innovations helping to transform the way New Zealand’s essential infrastructure was built, she said.
“Operating in ways that are socially and environmentally sustainable is becoming an absolute necessity for businesses of all sizes in civil construction. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is also a must for any business that wants to successfully win work on major projects.
“The way our communities adapt to climate change will affect the kinds of projects we do in future, as well as the capabilities we need – whether they are in rail building, flood protection, tunnelling, or somewhere else.”
She was proud to be CCNZ’s first female president and said the industry had come a long way from the days when it was rare to see women on worksites.
“Kudos to the men in our industry, as well as the efforts of the women. The industry has become much more inclusive and there are a lot more women in highly visible roles these days. Women have always had significant roles behind the scenes in civil contracting companies, particularly in SMEs, but they weren’t always on the front lines or in the kinds of management roles where you see them today.”
Ms Gair has been in civil construction since 2008, when she joined her parents’ business to provide temporary cover when the Contracts Manager at the time resigned. She enjoyed the role, and when given the chance decided to stay on, eventually becoming Managing Director in 2016.
“My dad was the original feminist,” she jokes. “He always said he had to take the best people for the job – he didn’t care if they were female or not.”
Ms Gair successfully sold Gair Contracting to Goodman Contractors in 2020, continuing on in the industry as a business consultant through her current business Roundview Limited.
She has previously served on the Executive Committee of CCNZ’s Hawke’s Bay East Coast Branch, including as its Chair, from 2012 until 2014.
There were no other changes to the members of the Executive Council at this year’s AGM. David Howard, from Wellington business Construction Contracts Limited, will step into the role of Vice President and Mr Pike will continue to contribute to the organisation, serving on the Executive Council as the Immediate Past President.