07 March 2024
2-minute read

From Chippy to GM: Sarah Tozer gets comfortable with being uncomfortable

Sarah Tozer is John Holland’s newly appointed General Manager, Building VIC/TAS/SA, but she’s still doing the odd DIY job around the house when she’s not working or on the golf course.

As a qualified carpenter, Sarah got a great foundation to her career across the construction industry and with John Holland. 

Sarah says her career path to date has included being an estimator, site engineer, project manager, tenderer, strategy leader and now general manager – a position she never envisaged as a 17-year old apprentice driving a Nissan GX called Cream Puff! 

“I was always good at asking questions, reading rooms, learning and working hard. 

“My assumption was that I’d get rewarded if I worked hard, but a mentor helped me realise if I was looking for a breakthrough role to bring all my skills together, I’d need to invest in my own network. So now that’s what I do, every day, relentlessly.” 

Sarah says the other investment she’s made in herself is learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

“I've made strategic decisions to move roles and try new things, standing by my own personal belief that if it's too comfortable, it’s time to move to gain new skills to add to my toolbox.  

“I realised if I wanted the career progression, I had to chase it down because no one brings it to you. If I hadn't recognised that, I’d now be a frustrated person in construction not reaching my full potential and capacity.” 

And for school leavers wanting to hone their skills in a trade? Sarah says that’s a viable pathway into a myriad of roles both on – and off – the construction site. 

“I'd previously had negative responses when I told people that I didn’t have a university background – they immediately categorised me, which then made me doubt myself.  

“The good news is when you’re working with good leaders, they don't see a trade background as a downfall, they see your qualifications as a key to the door, and the rest is then up to you!” 

“My greatest barrier has always been my belief in myself. But when I reached my late 30s, I realised ‘you know what, I've got something to offer’. And I learned I’m a better leader because I came in at the ground up.” 

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY

John Holland pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Custodiams of the land on which we work and live, and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples today.