Boss Lady

Power Pack | City West Housing CEO Janelle Goulding


City West Housing, launched in 1994, is one of the leading affordable housing developers in Australia and owns a portfolio of over 731 properties.  The not-for-profit organisation currently provides homes for over 1,400 people in the Pyrmont, Ultimo, Green Square and North Eveleigh areas of Sydney.

The organisation was set up to provide housing for people living in Sydney who are on low to moderate incomes and seeks to maintain social diversity in Inner City communities by a continuous development program and management of sustainable affordable housing.

Janelle Goulding joined the organisation in June 2012 as Chief Executive Officer and has over 30 years’ experience in the residential property sector, both in the private and public housing areas.

What prompted you to go into this field?

I’ve always loved property but my first career was in television.  My mum died when I was young and this kick-started me to change a few things in my life; namely my career.

My core skills are knowing property, shelter and people.  I know how to develop the right sort of buildings and the designs to suit the people who really need it.  When it comes to the issue of homelessness, I know how important having a roof over your head is; it really change people’s lives.

What have been the biggest challenges you faced, and what did you do to overcome them?

Traditionally housing is a ‘man’s world’ which I have managed to succeed in.  I was the first female GM of a building company in Australia (AV Jennings Homes) which made the front page of AFR back in 2001. I joined the company as National Marketing Manager and was promoted to GM NSW in 2001.

This was a huge challenge and I had to prove that I was capable, a good leader and most importantly, demonstrate a knowledge of construction.  One time, contractors actually threw bricks down from the construction site they were working on, perhaps to show their ‘dismay’ in a female in a senior position of a male-dominated sector.

However, I’m sure they changed their views when I took the business from loss making to making a record profit the first year I was there.

When I first joined City West, the key difficulties were resistance and building trust.  To combat this I surrounded myself with the right team to take the organisation forward.

Another issue was accepting the fact that as a woman working in the construction and housing sector, I have had to work a lot harder for the same recognition as that of my male counterparts.

What are the 3 key pieces of advice you would give other women?

  1. Always listen and accept the views of others

Understand that you can’t and won’t have all the answers, be confident enough to accept your own faults and work around them and ensure that you understand the importance of collaboration. By working together with others that complement your strengths, you will improve the results you achieve.

  1. Never be afraid to take a risk

Grab life with both hands and embrace all the challenges and risks that come your way – just ensure you think about the consequences and weigh up all options.  Sometimes the biggest risks can carry the biggest rewards!

  1. Follow your passion

Always endeavour to work in a job or role that you have a real passion for as this will help you achieve the best results for you and your organisation. Always remember that financial gain is a huge motivator, but doesn’t always lead to success and happiness


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