28 September 2023

Growing Indigenous Construction Talent: James' Journey 5 Years On

Helping young Indigenous talent build their careers in construction

BY Group is committed to helping meet the national goal of closing the gap in employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. That’s why we provide educational programs, work placements, and job opportunities for Indigenous community members to grow Indigenous Construction talent.

Our mission is to contribute to reducing the employment disparity and enhancing the prospects of better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.

3 years ago, we interviewed James Woods, who joined BY Group as a Contract Administrator in 2018.


As 2023 comes to an end, we caught up with James, who is now an experienced Project Manager, about his journey at BY Group so far.

James, tell us about your journey to BY Group. How did you end up being a part of the BY Group team?

My journey started in early 2018, when I was in the market for an opportunity in the construction and property industry. A close friend, and employee of BY Group at the time, linked me with Lyle and Mal, and I started at BY Group a week or two after that initial meeting. 

Can you provide an overview of your role and responsibilities within the business over the past few years?

Over the past few years, my role within the business has been dynamic and exciting. As a Project Manager at BY Group, I have the responsibility of managing BY Group's construction projects as well as key functions within the Sydney team. 

Can you describe the type of work, and some of the different types of projects you worked on as part of your role at BY Group?

BY Group is a very capable business, with skills to deliver value to our clients in many different forms from general construction, civil, solar/ renewables and development. I have worked on all aspects of the above in my role with BY Group and have been fortunate to travel to many remote parts of NSW to deliver these key services. 

You joined as a Project Engineer five years ago. What does it mean to you to be working in an Indigenous owned building company, such as BY Group?

It means a great deal. BY Group to me, cements the belief that we as Aboriginal people have a critical role to play in the economic development of our country. BY Group is a key facilitator in the Indigenous business sector that not only provides value for our clients, but also value through employment and partnerships with Aboriginal people and organisations in our day to day operations. I’m very proud of that, and proud to be associated with the BY Group story. 

Team image of 3 people including James.
Group image featuring James outside an Indigenous school.
Who were your mentors, and how did they help you? Can you provide examples of where their advice made a difference to you?

My older brother Kamal has been a critical mentor to me in which he has been instrumental in helping me get established in Sydney. His advice and guidance has always provided clarity during moments of transition and uncertainty in my career in which his advice has been to stay consistent and task orientated and when things get tough, to remember to look at the bigger picture. 

As a descendant of the Bundjalung & Yaegl Aboriginal Communities of Northern New South Wales, what does your culture mean to you and what role does it play in your life today?

My culture means a great deal to me and is instrumental in my day to day. My culture outlines the customary obligations I have to the community and people I work with in my day to day to constantly add value, and to stay true to the principles instilled in me from my mother's family.

Can you point out any specific skills or qualities you've developed or refined during your time with BY Group that have been instrumental in your career success?

The structuring of tasks to outline a clear path to the best possible outcome has been a skill I have learnt at my time at BY Group. The skill to be able to identify an end outcome, and trace back the steps to achieve it has been a skill I have learnt under the tutelage of Lyle, our construction manager.

This has proven valuable not just within BY Group, but also in my career development at university and in the community with the work I am doing with the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council.

Can you highlight any achievements or milestones you've reached during your time with BY Group that you are particularly proud of?

I am particularly proud of three achievements with BY Group.

1st - Achieving runner up for the NSW Young Achievers Award for 2022 for contributions to the Defence Estate. 
2nd - Getting appointed to Project Manager after starting with the business in 2018 as a Contracts Administrator. 
3rd - Being BY Group’s Go Karting Champion for 2023 🏎️

With the support and experience that you’ve gained over the last five years, what do you look forward to in your career as a construction professional in the coming years?

I believe businesses like BY Group have a lot of opportunity to continue to give value to the Indigenous construction sector for the coming years and I am very excited to be along for the journey. 

Link to Career Development Program

Think BY Group might be a good fit for you to start or grow your career in construction?  Don’t hesitate to contact us!