Embracing new opportunities has led Nicky Woodward to a rewarding and successful career.

Nicky Woodward, software testing and support manager at Pryda Australia, has been in the industry for 21 years and she still loves what she does.

Woodward began her career with Pryda in 1996, when a shortage of estimators and detailers within the timber truss and frame industry led the company to set up a training initiative.

“Pryda took a group of candidates and put us in a class situation for three months,” she says. “They taught us the basics of becoming a detailer and taught us how to use the software. From that you were guaranteed a placement with a Pryda fabricator to do a 12 month traineeship.”

Woodward completed her traineeship in 1997 and continued working with the same fabricator for several years before she and her husband started up their own truss plant.

“We did that for a few years but then we realised that we were spending more time in the truss plant than we were with our children, so we decided to sell the business,” she says.

Staying in the industry – this time working for a MiTek fabricator – it wasn’t long before Woodward’s journey led her back to Pryda. In 2005 she began work as a fabricator account manager (FAM).

“I was on the road a lot, training the estimators and detailers in how to use the software,” she says. “Basically it was onsite tech support for any software-related issues.”

A year and a half later Pryda were in the process of developing their next phase of software that was about to be released to the market.

“It was at testing stage and because of my experience, they asked if I’d come off the road for six weeks and do intensive testing with the development team,” Woodward says. “It was supposed to be for six weeks and I’ve been with the software department ever since.”

Woodward’s temporary role turned into a permanent testing/support role, as Pryda decided to create a dedicated internal support team. Starting out with Woodward alone, the team is now eight strong and manages all of Pryda’s software offerings. Woodward also manages the testing team and the training of technical and documentation writers.

Although numbers are slowly increasing, there are still far fewer women than men in the timber industry. Woodward is just one example of a woman in the industry who has survived and thrived to become the success story she is today.

“Generally the building industry is a male-dominated one, so there is that lack of females in the industry, but there are a few coming through,” Woodward says.

“The industry as a whole is becoming more welcoming to women. I mean, you still get your old-school builders, you always will, and you do need to have a thicker skin at times, but at the same time I I enjoy working with guys. It’s a challenging environment.

“When I first started out back in the 1990s, it was very much if guys saw a female turn up to do a site measure they would be like, ‘oh gee, here we go’. But you don’t tend to witness that kind of attitude any more. A lot of the guys now really welcome the female opinion, as we do think differently.”

Part of Pryda’s role is working with fabricators – surveying customers to get feedback on how the business can improve its products and services. Listening to customers and building a relationship with them is part of what sets Pryda apart from its competition, according to Woodward.

“We talk to our customers – we find out what they want, what they need, what their roadblocks are,” she says. “That’s what sets us apart – that customer relationship – asking them what they want not telling them what they need. I think that goes a long way.

“We’ve always been that way and it’s always been one of the strong points that Pryda brings. It’s one thing that’s a constant – that we work with the customer and we take what the customer says on board and make them a part of the solution.”

Pryda obviously looks after its staff as well as its customers, with Woodward saying she’s not going anywhere any time soon, although there are always future possibilities in an industry such as this.

“One of the fantastic things about ITW [who own Pryda] is that they are really big on internal development of their staff. Any job or opportunity that is in ITW anywhere always gets offered internally. We all get to see what’s on offer, and they encourage you to go for it.

“I love what I do, but you never know. When I was a FAM I got the opportunity to do testing which I thought was just a six week thing, but it turned into something so much more. And so while I love what I do, by the same token, if another opportunity was presented that my managers and peers thought I was capable of I would certainly be open to it. You don’t know what’s around the corner, but I can’t see myself going anywhere outside of ITW – I love working here.

“Money is second for me – you’re in the workforce for so long, you have to love what you do or it’s not worth getting out of bed in the morning.” Amen to that!

For more information head to pryda.com.au