People of Willow: Caroline Denes

PostedWillow Team

Hey there Caroline, tell us a little about your role at Willow.

I am a Business Development Director at Willow.

My role is to grow the business by identifying the best approach to market, developing customer relationships, improving our brand visibility to increase sales, and winning new contracts. I drive the Sales pipeline, own pursuits with new customers and lead bids and submissions. My responsibility is to build, nurture, and grow our customer relationship by providing new potential customers with the best understanding of our product and the value our technology will bring to their company and their clients. I listen and learn from the client’s perspective and share it with the delivery and product team to ensure our offer best fits our customers’ needs.

What were you doing before Willow?

I’ve had a diversity of experience across different types of industries, roles, functions, geographies, and different types of organisations. I’ve worked for more than 10 years in the design and construction industry in Australia, and before that, I was working for Volvo in Europe, Japan, and Australia.

My most recent experience before joining Willow was Senior Delivery Manager for the City of Sydney. I was managing the delivery, design, and construction of the Gunyama Park Aquatic and Recreation Centre in Alexandria.

What led you to Willow?

Towards the end of my projects with the City of Sydney, I was looking for a new opportunity.

I wanted to get back into business development and put into practice what I had learned from working on the client-side. I had a much better understanding of the client’s perspective and what they were looking for when planning a new construction project. This project specifically opened my mind to the importance of focusing on the end result – the operation of the building, who will be the end-users, how they will live and interact in the building, what an operator was thinking about when maintaining and operating a building, how critical a handover between construction to operations was, and how painful it could also be when the construction team and the operations team were not on the same page and pursuing the same goal.

That’s why Willow made lots of sense to me. When I discovered WillowTwin™, I thought how much easier my life would have been if I had been working with Willow before, how much easier the handover would have been and how much more efficient the operations and maintenance of the building could be for the team managing the facility.

I was also super keen to discover a new industry. I don’t come from the tech industry, and I was finding the challenge interesting. I always worked in big corporate companies, and I was eager to learn a new way of thinking, a new way of doing and get a different type of dynamic.

What do you love most about working at Willow? What has your experience been with our company culture?

There are so many things I love about Willow. The values, the people, the dynamic, the passion.

Willow is a very safe and caring environment where you can share, show your vulnerability, and grow with the support of the people around you. I have been amazed from day one with the level of expertise everyone brings in their own role, and how open and accessible every Willower is.

Our Wear Their Shoes principle resonates with me; genuinely listening and understanding our customer to deliver a product that fits their needs is key to success and it has always been a driver for me.

What do you find most exciting about working in tech?

Tech is a fast-paced, dynamic, and optimistic environment that fits my personality. It’s an environment that promotes innovation and forward-thinking. It encourages us to permanently think outside the box and to be creative.

Technology enables real impact by improving well-being, by making people’s jobs easier and more productive, and by supporting companies’ ESG targets.

I am a very curious person by nature, and technology provides endless opportunities to invent and re-invent. It often feels like the sky is the limit.

You received the Project Manager Award at the recently concluded NAWIC NSW Awards for Excellence. Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition! How does this impact your shift to tech and what lessons will you take from your experience in construction?

This means a lot to me because this is another opportunity to raise awareness and demonstrate to any women that they can work in any industry they wish to and in any type of role, there is no barrier anymore.

Promoting equal opportunities for women is a cause I have always been deeply passionate about.

I have been involved in committees such as The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) and Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC) for many years to promote and support women in the industry and to increase awareness that diversity benefits any company, employee, and client by providing a balanced, dynamic way of thinking to achieve better results.

And this is equally applicable to the D&C and tech industries, as the challenge is the same and inclusion will be equally as beneficial.

I am a mechanical engineer and when I decided to study engineering 20 years ago, it did not cross my mind at the time that this was a “male-dominated” path. I simply chose this field because I was good in math and physics, I loved solving problems and being part of a team to manage projects. 20 years ago, women made up only 10% of my year at university; today in the same class they represent 25%, and I’ve no doubt that soon enough we will reach close to 50%.

The fact that there were, and still are, so few women representing the construction and tech industries has created difficulties and frustration for women entering these industries. They feel isolated, unrecognised, and stereotyped — a frustration which I also faced. That’s what motivated me to get more involved, to understand and improve the dialogue.

Women represent 50% of the world’s population — therefore any project, any building or infrastructure being built, any equipment or technology that is being developed, will likely be utilised by a population where women make up 50%. Therefore, it is crucial for the success of any company that project teams are equally represented to better understand and respond to their client’s needs. Furthermore, diversity provides a better balance and well-being for all. Discussions raised by women about work-life balance and well-being are beneficial for all employees and create a more inclusive, productive, and happier environment.

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