Building People with Andrew Johnsen & Building Pride

Andrew Johnsen is General Manager for Victoria at TMX, and one of the leaders of Building Pride, an organisation focused on improving the lives of LGBT+ people in the property and construction industries across Australia. 

Building Pride was founded in 2021 by Christopher Schiavello, General Manager – NSW of Schiavello Group. Christopher had spent 15 years on construction sites and understood the challenges that young LGBT+ construction professionals face. 

“As a business leader and gay man, creating BuildingPride was important as I wanted to ensure LGBT+ professionals have a support network. I value talent development and creating supportive environments, and mentoring provides me with the opportunity to assist in the development of the next generation,” Christopher said.

Andrew met Christopher in 2020, and said he joined Building Pride this year after he noticed a problem in the construction industry when he tried to recount who his LGBTQ+ peers were, and couldn’t name many. 

“Here [at TMX] it doesn’t matter who I am or what my background is, but when I started to think about all of the people I know, that I work with on a daily basis that are from the LGBT+ community, I came up pretty short. And that made me think for the first time, maybe that’s a problem,” Andrew said.

‘When I first started in the construction industry, my drafting job evaporated pretty quickly once I came out of the closet… they sacked me, and there was no recourse at that time. It was the year 2000 and there was nothing that could be done about it.”

Andrew notes how far society has come in the time since he began working, but understands more support is still needed for members of the community in the construction industry.

“[Myself], Christopher, Melanie [Kurzydlo, Growthbuilt] and Seton [Walsh-Rose, Grey Puksand], we’re all examples of where you can go in the industry.”

“Building Pride – we are a network for individuals… here as a resource for support.”

Building Pride is built on four key pillars: mentorship, job placement support, construction site initiatives and educational events.

Andrew, along with Seton Walsh-Rose from Grey Puksand Architecture and Design, runs Building Pride’s Melbourne mentoring program, Champion, which connects mentors and mentees in meaningful ways, through a structured approach.

Building Pride’s Melbourne mentoring launch is happening this month, and is open to construction professionals from all backgrounds. Find more information here.

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