Queensland’s inaugural First Among Equals Award recipient continues to shake up the construction industry one year on

Queensland’s inaugural First Among Equals Award recipient continues to shake up the construction industry one year on

Last year’s 40 Under 40 Awards gala evening closed by awarding the prestigious First Among Equals Award to Brisbane-based co-owner Nicole Detsimas. This award selects one exceptional individual from the winners, who embodies the 40 Under 40 Awards vision. In the year since winning, Nicole has not only continued to lead her construction company Belnic Constructions to new heights, she’s trailblazing a new reality for women in the industry.

Belnic Constructions has risen through the ranks as one of the city’s most successful names in construction, garnering a reputation for its highly praised medical fit-outs. But the company wouldn’t have come to fruition if it wasn’t for the initial reactions Nicole received on social media when she announced she’d received her building licence. “Women don’t work on construction sites” said one commenter in response to Nicole’s achievement.

“Within a week, I had enrolled in construction management,” she says.

Queensland’s inaugural 40 Under 40 Awards recognised the exceptional work that has come in the wake of Nicole’s naysayers, with the co-founding of Belnic Constructions in 2019. In the year since receiving the award, Nicole has become a leading name in the fight to rebalance the construction industry’s gender quota.

“The 40 Under 40 Award has made me a more visible figure within the industry,” explains Nicole. “I’ve had a lot more women reach out to me through friends or LinkedIn to ask about how they can transition into a career in construction.”

While the underrepresentation of women in this industry has continued to be reported, Belnic Constructions remains a force for change.“Belnic has been kicking goals,” reflects Nicole. “We are consistently exceeding expectations, delivering more complex and high-quality design and construction projects than last year.”

“We’ve more than doubled our team and have a fantastic group of employees who share our vision and values – with a 50:50 gender ratio as well.”

Nicole has also taken up a new role as a committee member of Queensland’s Australian Institute of Building, where she has a seat at the table to help foster an inclusive community of professionals from the top down.

“With more women in decision-making positions, we have already started to work on policies and procedures to make the industry more inclusive and supportive of female workers,” explains Nicole.

Despite the success of Belnic Constructions – generating a turnover of $8 million a year – Nicole was originally tentative to even apply for the 40 Under 40 Awards.“My friend Abby encouraged me to apply – she’s strong on the importance of taking the time to reflect on your accomplishments,” shares Nicole. “I think nominating yourself for an award can sometimes feel like shameless self-promotion, however, as a business owner or leader there often isn’t anyone above you who will tell you that you’re going in the right direction.” 

“I believe that what I’m doing is important, but the 40 Under 40 Awards was an opportunity to see whether other representatives from broader Queensland felt the same way.”

The recognition of First Among Equals also helped to recharge Nicole’s advocacy. “It has helped to shake off the imposter syndrome I felt about being seen as a leader or role model for other women in construction.” Beyond the award, Nicole cites the 40 Under 40 Awards gala as a fantastic experience.“It’s not just about winning an award – the 40 Under 40 provides a stage from which to share your vision and goals with a broader audience.”

“If you’re serious about what you’re working on, don’t you want to speak to as many people as possible?”

Applications for the 40 Under 40 Awards presented by InQueensland and The Weekend Edition close this Friday June 28. The awards will acknowledge this year’s alumni of 40 of the state’s brightest, including the winners of the ten category awards.

To find out more about what’s on in Brisbane, head to our Event Guide.


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