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Insights from the HIA National Conference - and a Sydney pit stop


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Matt Perrott
Co-Founder - BuildPass
May 17, 2022 - 08:11 AMMax 5min read
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Each year HIA’s National Conference collects world renowned speakers and industry experts for three days of presentations and networking. We took the opportunity to get involved in the conference - this year, held on the Gold Coast - and travelled up via Sydney, where we stopped off to visit some of BuildPass’ NSW-based clients.

We road tripped the first leg of the journey in our new BuildPass truck - an exciting addition to the BuildPass team that will get us around to more sites, more often. Our maiden trip took us from Melbourne to Sydney and with a couple of Maccas stops on the way - special mention to Euroa McDonald’s where I started writing this.

On the road with the new BuildPass truck

We arrived in Sydney excited to catch up with clients to see what they’ve been up to. When in Sydney, it’s hard to avoid the obligatory stop at Bondi Beach to catch the sunrise before grabbing a coffee and hitting up some sites. Despite their similarities as cities, there are nuanced differences between the construction sites of Sydney and Melbourne. It was exciting to learn more about these differences and get feedback from our customers who are working on some of the CBD’s best commercial fitouts.

Early morning starts are easy with this view

Catching up with Hunter Mason in Sydney

And then, on to the HIA National Conference which presented construction industry issues from all angles and forecasted some fascinating trends and challenges for the construction industry. Overall it was clear that everyone is suffering from the materials shortage and, surprisingly, the labour shortage is just as bad. It was a jovial but solemn atmosphere.

Surfer turned investor, Mick Fanning talked, of course, about surfing but specifically how his experiences as a pro inform his business practices today - these insights were fascinating but what really stood out from Fanning was his unpresuming attitude, especially for someone so accomplished across both the sporting and business worlds. I was in awe.

Meeting Mick.

As well as Mick Fanning, there were two other highlights for us at the conference; Gus Balbontin - an investor and advisor, and Chelsea Pottenger, mindfulness coach and advocate, from EQ Minds.

Gus’ presentation followed on from his keynote back in 2018 - he reminded us about the importance of focusing on the customer rather than business problems. Gus’ energy really lit up the room and I was fascinated by his courage to talk about some of the inefficiencies of the industry in front of so many builders. His provocative playfulness was well-received though, with many even taking him up on his challenge to invest in cryptocurrency and NFTs!

Mental health has become a buzz word across many industries in recent years, and for good reason. We’re passionate about championing mental health initiatives in the construction industry which is why Chelsea Pottenger from EQ minds was another highlight for us at the conference. Her mantra, "self care isn’t selfish, it's self-preservation" informs all of her work and she supports companies across Australia to ensure that their employees are healthy and happy through mindfulness tools.

We know that in many industries - ours included - mental health isn’t always front of mind. We’re working towards more features that can help change this. As a start, our app links you directly to a service called "This is a Conversation Starter (TIACS)" that can help you check in with your mental health. We wrote more about how you can support your mental health and those around you here.

The conference concluded with a celebration of the hard work and achievements of those nominated for the prestigious HIA-CSR Australian Housing Awards - a huge congratulations to PAH Construction who won Australian Professional Small Builder of the year and JW Constructions for HIA Home of the Year.

PAH Construction winning Australian Professional Small Builder of the year - congrats guys!

It’s a privilege to attend events like these in such great company. We love learning about the future of the industry, meeting with those who are shaping it and figuring out the best role we can play to support it.