Name: Priscilla Tran
Position: Development Manager
Company: City West Housing, Sydney
What do you enjoy the most, working in the field of construction & development?
I enjoy the process of turning ideas into reality in a tangible way that positively contributes to the fabric of our built environment and leaves a legacy that can be enjoyed by generations to come after I’m long gone.
I also love that the construction and development industry requires you to always learn, grow and innovate, and to do so in partnership with a variety of different people from different sectors and fields. There’s never a lack of opportunities and challenges, so it’s as exciting as it is complex. It’s certainly never boring!
But now I’ve moved from the private sector to the non-profit community housing sector, and am developing affordable housing for very low to moderate income households, it’s incredibly rewarding knowing that our apartments not only give our residents a home, but security, stability and the chance for a better future for themselves and their families, which is increasingly hard to come by in a city like Sydney given our housing affordability crisis.
Where do you see your life in the next 5 years, what possibilities are ahead of you?
My perspective on this has changed over the past year so I’ll share a bit more about this in case it helps someone else reading this.
At the start of 2019, I was still struggling with depression, and so I was hoping to just survive. At times, thinking about getting through the next hour was difficult, so contemplating a month, a year or five years in advance was out of the question. I saw my future as stepping off the cliff into a void of uncertainty and fear and, frankly, hopelessness.
At the middle of the year, when I had recovered from my depression with the support of my manager, colleagues, family, friends and health professionals, I would have answered that I would hope to have gained enough professional experience to become a Senior Development Manager, continuing to do meaningful projects that contributed positively to the community.
Now, at the end of 2019, as a result of my experience with a networking program that connected like-minded peers and development industry legends, and the continued encouragement of my colleagues, friends, family and even strangers, I have realised that there are fewer limits on my future than I had previously imagined, so I can dream bigger and strive for more than what’s immediately in front of me. In five years’ time, I hope to be working on projects of significance to my community and be using my platform to influence and inspire others to have greater ambitions for themselves and our society. I’ve had a lot of doors of opportunity be opened to me as a result of winning a couple of industry awards recently, so I’m now in a process of re-evaluating my priorities and commitments and the path I’d like to take. It’s a little scary but mostly very exciting; I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up in five years!
Watch this space!
If you could write a letter to a 13-year-old ‘you’ what would you say?
You are incredibly loved; loved by God, by your family, and by your friends. You don’t need to work so hard to earn approval from others because you are so dearly loved already (yes, even if you don’t feel like it).
You don’t need other people’s permission to succeed and dream bigger and strive for more. You will not see many leaders that look like you and you will come across people or circumstances that make you feel like you don’t belong and aren’t good enough. But please know that you can achieve almost anything with hard work, perseverance, good relationships and a healthy others-centred attitude.
Don’t be afraid of failure. You will make mistakes and hurt others (even without meaning to). The only bad failures are the ones you don’t learn from, so seek forgiveness, repent, and grow from these times. You’ll all be better and stronger for it. And similarly, others will fail and hurt you. Love and forgive them anyway. It’s what Jesus did for you.
Never underestimate the value of your words and your care and empathy. But also let others look after you. You might feel like a burden but it’s good for you and good for others. We all need to take care of each other and you are not exempt from this.
Work hard, but also work smart. There’s no point working beyond your capacity if you burn out and reduce your capacity to help yourself or others. Take a step back to look at the bigger picture every so often to make sure you’re on the right path. And never stop learning and growing and feeding your curiosity.
Comparison is the thief of joy. We’re all on our own paths with our own opportunities and challenges. Focus on your own path. Only look at someone else’s path to see if they need your help.
Respect your emotions. As much as you trust your rationality, your emotions also deserve your attention and empathy as much as you would give other people. Ignore them and you ignore yourself. Take care of your mental and physical health. They’re resources that are hard to recover once they’re depleted.
You will face times where you feel like you can’t go on. God will grant you what you need at the right time to become the woman He wants you to be. Be patient.
Learn to love and forgive yourself. With God’s help, you are more amazing, resilient and stronger than you realise. Now go on. Stop overthinking. Don’t let self-doubt become self-sabotage. Back yourself. Fight for what you believe in.
What are 3 skills you have had to develop to get to where you are presently?
- Resilience. The path for women in development and construction is somewhat off the beaten track, and has unexpected twists and turns. I don’t always know exactly where I’m heading, but if I believe I’m on the right path, I try to keep going, no matter what (although it may require some creative adaptability on the way). I’m a strong believer that everything we experience helps trains us for our future if we let it, so no ‘detour’ needs to be ‘wasted’. There are also trailblazers that have gone before us so I try to make the most of learning from these amazing women.
- Relationship-building. Better than typical networking or merely making connections with a long list of acquaintances, the more I invest in relationships, the greater the rewards in terms of both professional development and personal fulfilment. I approach relationships by thinking about what I can do for other people rather than what they can do for me, which results in deeper and longer-lasting professional and personal relationships. Intelligence and hard work can only take you so far. We all need other people to succeed so invest in them.
- Knowing and Growing Myself. Due to a growth mindset, I do my best to grow my self-awareness and understanding of how I think and feel and behave, including reading up on psychology, listening to relevant podcasts, and seeking counselling for psychological ‘check-ups’ even when I’m not mentally unwell. I often do a SWOT Analysis on myself to identify and work on my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to help improve myself. I am constantly seeking feedback from others and self-reflecting to ensure I’m learning and am reflexively adapting my insights into my life and practice, and, therefore, am hopefully growing to become a better version of myself every day.