Women in Manufacturing: Meet Laralee Aldridge, Aveng Grinaker-LTA’s People Enablement Executive

Laralee’s journey at Aveng started in 1999 as a vacation student for Aveng Grinaker-LTA where she worked with external auditors, Ernest & Young. She was appointed as Finance Executive for Aveng Grinaker-LTA Civil Engineering in 2010 and is now the People Enablement Executive at Aveng Grinaker-LTA, a position she has held for the last two years. Laralee’s typical day comprises handling training and industrial action issues at a senior level. She is also responsible for managing the Aveng Grinaker-LTA construction training centre, the welding school and the communication and forensics portfolio.

Laralee is also responsible for managing the systems, legal requirements and, most importantly, the development of employees to ensure they are adequately equipped to deliver on strategic objectives and build a sustainable business. As the leader of her team, a key role is to motivate her colleagues while finding ways to improve processes to better support project sites.

“Our people are our greatest asset and my role is to make sure our human resource teams do everything in their power to support and empower our employees to deliver great performance,” says Laralee.

Laralee enjoys working with her colleagues in the human resource team, senior executives and site teams.

“Not only are they great people to work with but they make my work day challenging and rewarding at the same time. Each day is a new challenge with exciting opportunities which keep me stimulated and on my toes,” adds Laralee.

Working in the human resource environment, Laralee understands better than most the need to build gender diversity in the organisation. From time to time, she has encountered some aggression from male colleagues who have tried to intimidate her by shouting and slamming their firsts on the table. She has learned to recognise this tactic as a frustrated human who can’t express themselves. In these circumstances, she remains as calm as possible, distances herself from the person for a short while to allow them some time to gather their thoughts and then picks up the conversation again later. Laralee attributes her successful career to remaining true to herself and her beliefs.

“Other qualities required for a successful career as a woman in a male-dominated environment are to be authentic, confident in who you are and love the woman you are. Authentic women leaders bring a sense of upliftment to the people they work with. Be that woman. Don’t try and be someone you’re not. Every individual has a need to be respected and understood and this has helped me deal with many difficult circumstances in my life,” shares Laralee.

Laralee believes that it is important to define the meaning of success. “Everyone has a different meaning. For some its money, for others it may be status, material possessions, experiences, knowledge, following your passion and fulfilling one’s purposes,” she explains.

“Be focused, committed and don’t change who you are to be accepted. People are naturally attracted to authentic leaders. Be that leader. The key to success is to believe in yourself and what you bring as an employee. Be humble, but be great. Respect is earned not because of a title but because of how your treat others.”

Her advice to other women is to set goals, identify how you add value to the company and why you work at Aveng. “Write down what makes you a great leader, irrespective of your job title and remember that every successful woman started in a junior position and worked her way up the ranks.”

Laralee’s short-term goals are to complete her masters life coaching qualification and become certified as an intermediate pole fitness instructor. At home, she would like to successfully harvest a full season of vegetables in her garden over the next year. Her goal is to live for a purpose each day and inspire others to achieve their potential. She would also like to make more time for holidays and life-fulfilling travels as she believes that one should allow time for relaxation. Laralee also aims to spend more time getting in touch with her spiritual being and enjoying great conversations with “life gurus”.

In her spare time, Laralee enjoys being in nature with friends, hiking and mountain biking. One of her most notable achievements is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2009 and she was recently awarded silver status by the Human Edge Vital Smarts for her facilitation of their crucial conversation training in 2016. She also enjoys pole fitness and recently qualified as a pole fitness instructor. Over the past year, she achieved first and third place in national competitions in the intermediate category for pole fitness. She also loves cooking and baking and recently discovered a hidden painting talent. Laralee enjoys reading books by inspiring leaders, personal motivation and the old classics.