Growing greater

Mid-career women

The programme that’s continuing to make a big difference for mid-career women in engineering and architecture.

The Growing Greatness programme for mid-career women started initially for Beca employees, but quickly grew to be rolled out across the engineering industry. It’s now helping mid-career women within Diversity Agenda Founding Partner and Change Maker organisations, to cultivate clarity of focus, grow in confidence and enhance their already-proven capability so they are ready for more influential roles.

We know from both research and experience that there are some very particular challenges for mid-career women. Mid-career is the limbo land between what we thought we wanted and the reality of working life. It’s the point at which we’re no longer sure if we are on the right path, or indeed any path.

Rather than teach participants the nuts and bolts of leadership, the programme helps participants consider their gifts and explore the common ailments that hold women back, including perfectionism and being overly conscientious. In short, the programme enables participants to get out of their own way so they can make the kind of contribution they secretly suspect they can.

“I’ve been seconded into a management role. I probably would have turned it down a few months ago, but Growing Greatness has really helped me understand where I can add value.”

Over the past two years over 60 mid-career women in the industry have participated in the programme – and it’s having an impact. As programme designer Anne Elder-Knight observes: “during the course of every programme there are generally two promotions and one departure, and even those who move on stay within the industry and move to a role more suited to their gifts once they figure out what those are.”

Participants on the programme also see and feel the impact. Lauren, a Product Design specialist commented: “I am absolutely finding so much value in the programme! I’ve just been seconded into a management role. I probably would have turned it down a few months ago, but the Growing Greatness workshops have really helped me understand where I can add value. Instead of looking at all the parts of the role I don’t know how to do, I thought about why I was offered the opportunity, what I can get out of it (and offer to it) and decided to jump in.”

Jessica, a Project Manager noted; “At first, I was skeptical of an all-female programme, however, the course was invaluable to me and I could not recommend it more highly. It has been the catalyst to re-focus the lens on myself, to understand more about who I am and where I am going in my life and career. As a result of the programme, I have consciously made a number of changes and now have the tools I need to continue to make changes for the betterment of my life and career.”

Harrison Grierson has been running the programme in-house and Karen West, its Chief People & Communications, says she’s noticed changes in the women employees who’ve taken part. “Across the board we’ve seen participants become more self-assured in how they work with their teams, speak with senior leaders in the business and generally go about their day-to-day work. There’s also more decisiveness around which career and development paths they wish to pursue.”

Karen says the decision to run the programme in-house was made earlier this year after a review of gender diversity across its technical staff. “It showed we still had some way to go to improve gender diversity, particularly as the roles increased in seniority. We needed to continue to build on developing our female employees – and one of the avenues was the Growing Greatness programme.”

Given the impact the programme is having and with the support of the Diversity Agenda and the host organisations, Beca, Harrison Grierson, WSP, and Tonkin + Taylor, three more programmes are being offered for women in engineering and architecture, beginning in March 2020.

Details of the programmes can be found on Anne’s website. Places are limited and already filling fast, so if you are interested in attending or would like to ensure places for those in your organisation please email

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