Who would have thought a young woman from a farming family in Cheviot, North Canterbury, would end up as the Construction Manager for the Scott Base Redevelopment in Antarctica?  We asked Karissa Hyde, Keystone Trust Study Award scholarship recipient 2003, that question as she still has to pinch herself when she talks about her role.

“This role is a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ working on redeveloping New Zealand’s home in Antarctica,” says Karissa.

“The current base has been in existence and permanently occupied in various forms since 1957, and this project will see it replaced with a base to last at least for the next 50 years. This role provided an exciting challenge for construction in terms of location, environment, and logistics. It also gave me the opportunity to work on a project that supports New Zealand’s world-leading science in Antarctica. I could take the skills and experience I had built up over the years and use them to contribute to a truly exciting project…and of course, the opportunity to travel to Antarctica for work is not a bad bonus.”

Karissa is the eldest of four siblings and is now a mum with a child of her own.  She has a passion for the outdoors and creating things.

“I attended boarding school in Christchurch where they tried to remove some of the rough country edges, and I discovered a talent for maths and science.” Following school, I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a Keystone Trust scholarship recipient which helped not only build my professional network, but also financially, as I completed a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Civil Engineering at the University of Canterbury.”

Karissa always wanted to be involved in large scale projects that would stand the test of time and benefit society, so following university she took on many roles in the industry (several of which were centred around earthquake rebuild work) including as Structural Engineer, Geotechnical Engineer, Project Manager and now Construction Manager and Team Leader.

In her current role, Karissa spends her working-day managing the construction side of the project, including providing input into the design, schedule, and planning, establishing and managing contractors and construction contracts, monitoring performance and leading a team of project managers and engineers to deliver supporting sub-projects.

“My favourite part is the challenge and the variety. Everyday going to work is interesting, you never know what challenges you are going to face or what new things you are going to learn that day. A project like this gives you the opportunity to stretch yourself, to see things from other perspectives and to challenge the way things are normally done.”

When we asked Karissa if she has some words of wisdom for students looking at entering the property and construction industry, she unequivocally said:

“Go for it! The industry is large and varied with many opportunities. You can start off doing one thing and if after a while that’s not for you, you can change. No experience is wasted. Don’t be afraid to start again, or move sideways, or take that random opportunity that sounds like it might be just out of reach because in the end it might not be. Your career doesn’t have to be linear, you can change as many times as you like, because in the end, it is all valuable experience that will get you to where you want to be.”

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