Breaking boundaries, one brick at a time

Normal, Weekender

TRAVERTZ MABONE catches up with a brave woman who has dared to venture into the male- dominated construction industry.

CATHY Pitzz has gone where few women of her generation in PNG have gone before.
She has broken the gender barrier and is storming the world of construction, completing her first major building project recently.
Breaking all grounds and intricate norms which once seemed somewhat impossible for any female in PNG, and internationally for that matter, at just 33 years of age, she has astounded and proven to the country at large that gender is no a barrier.
Especially in what she does which is manage her own construction company, the Singaut Contractors.
Apart from that, she also has a passport and visa business along with a small trade store which she also manages.
However, all her successes did not come easy as she had to juggle her university education, being a parent and managing her small businesses.
But the idea of running a construction company didn’t come to mind until in 2008 when she and husband Dominic Kakas, decided to renovate their home at Gordon in Port Moresby.
“The whole idea came about when renovating the house which, humiliatingly, took twice the time it was scheduled for completion by a hired construction company,” she said.
Dismayed by the company’s performance, she hired a couple of people to finish the job when the idea struck her to start up her own construction company.
“I was a bit unsure at first (going up against the guys) but I felt that I could take it on,” Ms Pitzz said.
“My family was also very supportive of my decision to go into the construction business,” she added.
Acting on her notion, she hired 10 experienced men and went out looking for projects. But business was slow until she applied for a tender for interested contractors to build a new police station at Malalaua in the Gulf province, and won.
“At first, it was a bit strange for my workmen to digest the idea of a female being their boss, which was evident through them referring to my husband as the boss rather than to me,” Ms Pitzz said, but added that she was grateful to her husband who always corrected the workmen and told them who the real boss was.
“When driving the guys around he would say, ‘Don’t call me boss, I’m just the driver, your boss is Cathy’,” she said with a smile.
Adding to it, it was always their children Herman, Nakiisha and Freeman, who remind their father that mum was the boss and whatever she says goes.
But despite that, she added, “My employees did well in helping me out with understanding the trade and explaining things to me and their honesty in getting what was needed and most of all they never doubted me.”
With a Bachelors degree in Arts Psychology and a minor in Business Management, Ms Pitzz added that, “I’m not an architect, neither am I a builder. But I got the right people around me who are there to do the right thing.”
After successfully completing the Malalaua police station and lock-up, its opening on the 10th of Sept 2009, was nothing but all praise.
The deputy Prime Minister Sir Puka Temu and the Kerema Open Member Titus Bombom were astounded by her achievement noting a big difference and both describing it as “a change with a women’s touch”. It was a female touch to the building industry and after all, a house is not as warm and friendly without a woman’s touch and indeed this was felt at the Malalaua police station.
Apart from the police station, Ms Pitzz, who now employs more than 40 people with Singaut Contractors, is currently working on the Kaintiba district office also in the Gulf province, a shelter at the PNG rehab centre at Hohola and renovations at properties in the Boroko residential area.
Depending on the availability of projects, Ms Pitzz is also planning on expanding, not for her own benefit, but for Papua New Guineans.
She is looking beyond the horizon, this time planning a dream to build affordable homes for Papua New Guineans who are looking to own one.
As we all know, the price of houses for sale or rent is quite a nightmare for many, therefore, she has come up with the concept of providing quality homes for affordable prices.
This would indeed be quite a challenge for the new comer in this “all men’s game”, however, for her, the sky is the limit.
That’s the sort of mentality which stands up for equality and moreover proving all concepts and mentalities of subjugation and oppression otherwise and setting herself as an example and an inspiration for more young women to follow.