Debbie Van Leeuwen
Franchise Owner for GJ Gardner Homes (Manukau & East Auckland)
The change I want to see in the next 12 months is… More females entering into the construction industry, whether it be in the trades or leadership roles. Females bring diversity of thought to a traditionally male-dominated industry. G.J. Gardner is proud to have women make up 43% of our team. This diversity benefits not only our businesses, but also the industry and economy as a whole.
I’d name my autobiography… I’m not done yet!
To me success means… Being proud of your achievements knowing you have done it to the best of your ability.
Best advice I’ve been given… Don’t be afraid to say “yes” to an opportunity no matter how daunting it may seem.
The most rewarding part of my job… Delivering upon the trust which clients place in us to deliver on their most important purchase of their life – their home! Being a part of that journey is very special.
Life motto: Life is short, be grateful every day.
Favourite book: I have two equally favourite, yet very different books -Shantaram by Gregory David and The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. I have read both a number of times and enjoy them just as much each time.
The women who inspire me: Working Mums who manage to not only kick serious goals at work but also juggle the home front with school drop offs and pick ups.
The gender stereotype I can’t stand: To be a successful leader as a woman, you need to be tough and limit your compassion.
The main challenge for women in business is… Maintaining career momentum when taking time out to start a family. When returning to the workforce, women are often discriminated against when it is presumed that the mum will be the main caregiver if children are unwell.
Diversity in the workplace is… Essential to keep lifting the bar. Diversity of thought, which comes from varied experiences, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders to name a few aspects, help organisations to become more effective and deliver results not possible from homogeneous approaches.
I advocate for change by… Doing! If you want something to change, you have to make it happen.