Overseas and back again: Meet Gavin Cooper

24 years ago Gavin Cooper made his start in the construction industry by following a sage piece of advice from his parents: do what you like, but make sure you have something to fall back on.

With his father already in the trade, becoming an electrician himself was an easy choice for Gavin (pictured above right, with Scott Lamb). It was also what gave him his first exposure to the broader world of building.

“As an electrician you’ve got to be involved in the planning at the start of the project and then at the end as one of the final service fit outs,” Gavin said.

“I found seeing that build process through all of the stages fascinating, so I moved into service delivery roles that covered all trades.”

Gavin’s services speciality quickly took him overseas where he spent some of the early part of his career working in the middle east, on projects that were of a scale unlike anything in Australia.

“The projects were both immense and unique which was an eye-opening experience,” he said.

“I appreciated the exposure working on large-scale projects but after a time I missed the structure of the construction industry in Australia.”

Moving back to Australia, Gavin landed in Canberra where he quickly became known for delivering complex construction projects for both the state and federal governments.

Between work and being a parent, he also found time to complete a degree in building and construction management majoring in law.

Then in mid-2021 an opportunity came his way to take on a key leadership role within a growing company; a company that could afford him the flexibility to help shape a productive and supportive team.

Now 15 months into his role as Construction Manager at Rork Projects, Gavin said that the biggest challenge and reward for him comes from understanding his team and what drives them.

“Truly understanding your team is critical to create an environment where they feel supported and empowered,” Gavin said.

“I want them to grow and learn, and to not be afraid to put their hand up.

“A lot of businesses are so focused on prioritising what the client wants, that they lose sight of the importance of what their own teams need.

“Companies that succeed are the ones that invest in their people.

“I’m so proud to be part of a team that believes in this philosophy and to be in a position where I can influence change.”