Submitted by The Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ)

“Women supporting women – in our industry, we are fortunate to have strong and inspiring women empowering their fellow women to be on the tools and lead the business,” says Penny Cornah, executive director of the Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland (MPAQ).

Master Plumbers of Queensland. Image supplied by Women's Plumbing Alliance

Master Plumbers of Queensland. Image supplied by Women’s Plumbing Alliance

“That kind of leadership is what we want to cultivate and celebrate, as we move our industry towards a progressive future.”

MPAQ held its inaugural Women’s Plumbing Alliance (WPA) leadership retreat from Thursday 18 May to Friday 19 May 2023 at the Sea World Resort on the Gold Coast. Attended by dozens of women from the plumbing and gas industry, the event celebrated the vital role of women in the trades and gave them the opportunity to network, learn, and develop leadership skills.

Expert speakers led the sessions to start off the retreat, covering a wide range of topics from business and HR to personal and professional development.

Leigh Mackay, executive manager of member engagement at Building Unions Superannuation Scheme of Queensland (BUSSQ), opened the first business session with a presentation on financial empowerment for women. She shared some eye-opening facts, such as the fact that even though women comprise 47.4% of the workforce, they usually retire with 24% less superannuation than their male counterparts. Mackay was shortly followed by Emily Harrison, an insurance adviser from Austbrokers Comsure, who spoke about management liability insurance and covered topics about handling employee theft and wrongful termination.

MPAQ’s very own Emma Ross, senior HR adviser, provided an HR update on some of the most important changes to workplace laws. She covered topics on pay secrecy, leaves for temporary shutdowns, dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace, family and domestic violence leaves, and flexible work arrangements for employees.

Suzanne Faulkner, partner, and CFO at Xact Accounting gave a very helpful blueprint to prepare a business for both a downturn and an upturn. She gave a bit of background about Australia’s current economy and cost of living, and how the trades impact the daily lives of Australians.

On the trades side, Trish Bancroft from Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC) discussed their newest product for plumbers – the RWC Flood Guard. Given that one in ten water damage claims in Australian households were due to burst or damaged flexible hose assembly, the Flood Guard will help give homeowners peace of mind.

Attendees were also fortunate to listen to the keynote speaker, Sonia McDonald, a renowned leadership expert who aims to inspire people to take courageous action in all aspects of their lives. Everyone received a copy of her book, Just Rock It! How to Get What You Really Want, which provides inspiring nuggets of wisdom and simple strategies to help readers break through their fear and doubt to create an unwavering sense of self.

Apart from the meaningful and informative sessions, the women also had the opportunity to relax and forge new friendships with their fellow attendees during the dinner and sunset cocktail sessions. A recharging yoga session was led by health habit coach Loz Antonenko the following morning.

The Women’s Plumbing Alliance aims to recognise, connect, and empower all women in the plumbing and gas industry. It was established to assist women working behind the scenes and on the tools in developing an important and supportive community as key decision makers of the industry. The WPA Leadership Retreat is only the first of hopefully more leadership retreats where women from the industry can take a break from the everyday grind and find meaningful ways to reflect, grow, and develop skills that will benefit their own businesses and workplaces.

(Extract from July 2023 WPC Newsletter as an interlude to our local Women in Plumbing series. Soon we will be saying “plumbing has no gender.” Aster Tseng, PA, August IAPMO.)