Orlagh Brady has forged an impressive construction career, and a passion for building furniture flatpacks at home was the catalyst that started it all.

Since her early years Orlagh Brady has had an eagerness to learn, an inquisitive nature and a zest for hands-on activities. When she struggled to engage in her studies at school, Orlagh channelled her energy into other passions such as building flatpack furniture at home and playing sports – striving for personal growth in areas that aligned with her interests.

Throughout her search for the ideal career path, Orlagh dabbled in a number of industries. She then moved to Dublin, Ireland in 2018 where her family originates from and picked up a role in human resources.

When she returned to Brisbane, Orlagh says she was thrown straight back into the deep end of decision-making. “I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I made the decision to study paramedicine,” she says. “I did that for six months before realising it wasn’t the right path for me.”

“I went back into what I knew, hospitality, until my dad called me and offered me a job as a labourer in the commercial construction sector – it sounded very out there, but I thought, why not?

In this role, Orlagh ended up working on the Mercedes-Benz building in Brisbane where she moved materials, worked with various tradespeople and got a feel for what it was like to work in the construction industry. She learned about the different tools used onsite and what her capabilities were in a construction environment – and she also discovered carpentry.

“I ended up speaking to a number of carpenters onsite, which sparked my interest in the field,” she says. “As luck would have it, one of those carpenters offered me the opportunity to complete a carpentry apprenticeship with his residential building business.”

“I had the drive, I was eager to learn how to put things together, and I took the opportunity with both hands.”

In 2022, Orlagh finished her trade and, as a fully qualified carpenter, started searching for her next challenge. She knew she wanted to be involved in the business side of construction, she knew she wanted to gain further skills and she knew she wanted to take the next step in her career.

Then, one day, Orlagh received a call from a recruiter from a company she had never heard of. “He asked me what I was looking for and what my mindset was on my career,” she says. “I said I wanted to do a cadetship because I wanted to learn from estimators, and work with designers and project managers.”

“The recruiter got me an interview with specialist fit-out and refurbishment company Fore Group, and the rest is history.”

Today, as Fore Group Building Cadet, Orlagh says she is in a role and industry that she truly enjoys and fosters her personal and professional growth daily.

As a building cadet, part of Orlagh’s role involves managing documents, writing sub-contracts and engaging with subcontractors. She also organises the tradespeople onsite, communicates with site managers, attends meetings, assists with submitting tenders and sits in with project managers to learn about their processes.

Currently, Orlagh is assisting with a tender delivery for heritage works on an over-a-century-old building in Queensland. “This project is an especially exciting one for me as I worked on a building in the same heritage precinct in my previous role as a carpenter,” she says. “Working on the same project in a completely different field is mind-blowing.”

Beyond her role at Fore Group, Orlagh has also organised a ‘Tradie Lady’ meet up in Brisbane with the support of charity organisation Empowered Women in Trades (EWIT) and a number of construction companies. Created as a forum to bring together local women in trades to share career advice and stories, the event is being held on June 30 this year. Orlagh hopes that through this forum, she can provide support for local women in the industry.

Throughout her career, Orlagh has found her own support through EWIT platforms. After coming across a post on Instagram about EWIT’s first Charity Gala, she spoke with family and friends who nominated her for the Inspiring Tradie Lady of the Year award.

“I found out I was shortlisted for the award, which was an amazing feeling in itself,” says Orlagh. “I ended up booking a flight to Melbourne where the gala was being held and was just really excited to network with other attendees.”

On the night of the gala, held on February 3 this year, Orlagh was announced the Inspiring Tradie Lady of the Year – a title well deserved.

It’s no doubt that Orlagh will continue to be a beacon of inspiration for ‘Tradie Ladies’ across Brisbane and beyond.

This article originally appeared on inside Construction.

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