Women at Implenia

We promote our female talents at all levels, including management.

Christelle Beneteau:

«As Chief Human Resources Officer for Implenia, the topic of leveraging diversity in our company is a key one for me.»

As Chief Human Resources Officer for Implenia, the topic of leveraging diversity in our company is a key one for me. This includes gender diversity and growing the population of our female talent – at all levels, including management. We operate in an industry that has traditionally been more male-focused, but there are signs of change. In 2019, the proportion of our women employees increased slightly from 12.3 % in the previous year to 13.5 %. We’ve been progressing a number of different initiatives to encourage this change. In November 2018, for example, we became a member of “Advance” – a professional association dedicated to the promotion of high-potential women in work. We will also soon be joining “Women Back to Business”, a programme run by the University of St. Gallen that supports women in returning to work, or to develop their careers in different directions. And in December, we will be sending representatives to the “Women in Construction Summit” in London to connect with talented women who work in our industry across many different countries.

Digitalization is bringing change to our industry too - with opportunities to get more from automation, data and systems - alongside our traditional skills. This general trend should also lead to more opportunities for attracting female talent. To give a little more insight on this topic, let’s take a closer look now at the following portraits, which demonstrate the wide variety of roles and types of contribution that some of our female colleagues provide at Implenia.

Sonja Beeri, site manager:

«Working on site isn’t just for men»

“Nerves of steel” are very useful in her job, says Sonja Beeri. “In stressful times, when there’s lots going on, you have to be able to withstand the pressure,” explains the site manager. With something as complex as a construction site it’s also important, she says, to work in a structured way and set priorities. In 2017, Sonja Beeri became one of the first women in Switzerland to qualify as a master builder. The 38-year-old believes there is a general lack of young talent coming through in the construction sector: “Construction is not the first choice for a lot of people, which makes it even more difficult to increase the proportion of women.” She tells us that she was good at technical drawing and maths at school, and always had a good imagination. “So my teacher suggested I try a technical profession.” She never thought construction work was just for men. “We need to make sure that if someone has ability and talent in a certain area, they should be encouraged in this direction and given a job.”

Anita Eckardt, Head Division Specialties:

«Ideas emerge when different people come together.»

Look for roles that allow you to learn new things and where the bosses challenge and encourage you. According to Anita Eckardt, 47, this is the secret to success in the construction industry and everywhere else. But construction is where she herself has worked for more than 15 years. During this time she has been Chief Operating Officer at building materials group CRH Swiss Distribution and Chief Marketing Officer and Director of Sales at companies within the Saint-Gobain Group. In September 2019 the Dane joined Implenia, where she is Head of Division Specialties and the person responsible for implementing our innovation strategy. “I ensure there is an environment in which ideas can be generated and innovations implemented, or bought in from the outside, until one day the disruptive breakthrough occurs,” she says. The NZZ newspaper calls Eckardt “Mrs. Innovation”. She explains that “innovations only come if you understand the job required and the customers’ daily challenges.” And “the best ideas emerge when different people come together – diversity brings creativity!”

Carolin Haueis, BIM coordinator:

«Mastering new challenges all the time is the most exciting thing.»

Carolin Haueis works with the future – for the future. The more the world grows together, the more important digital methods such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) become. And as a BIM coordinator, the 33-year-old knows how to get the best out of it. One of the major projects she’s currently working on is the conversion of the railway line at Varberg in Sweden from one to two tracks. The project also includes building a new tunnel, a passenger station and a freight station. Implenia has used BIM to design and plan the work right from the start. “A special feature is that our work is completely paperless,” says Carolin Haueis. “We just have models that we use as the basis for all the construction work. Workers on the site use tablets to access a shared database and retrieve the latest version of the project.” BIM enables much more efficient solutions for complicated infrastructure projects. “This is the most exciting thing for me, because there are always new challenges arising that have to be mastered,” says the construction engineer, “and because you learn an incredible amount on so many levels.”

Read more about our Varberg project

Iris Harnisch, crane operator:

«A job that every woman can do.»

She sees the world from above. Iris Harnisch, from Aargau, has to climb 146 rungs of the ladder to get to work. Even though she is one of the few female crane operators in Switzerland, the 41-year-old tells us that it is “a job that every woman could do”. Men may generally be more physically strong than women, “but that’s completely irrelevant to operating the machinery; strength has nothing to do with it.” Iris Harnisch has been a crane operator for 15 years. Before that she worked as a hairdresser. Not everyone understood why she wanted to make such a dramatic career change, and many thought she would be too delicate for work on a construction site. “But my Godmother said to me: ‘this will suit you much better’.” And Harnisch loves what she does. “I have the most beautiful workplace in the world,” she says. And there’s something else she likes: “I earn exactly the same as my male colleagues. That feels good. There’s discrimination against women in some industries, but not in construction.”