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Our Head of Operations takes home the Business Professional Award

Nikki’s dedication and excellence wins her a NAWIC award

With 30 years of experience under her belt, Nikki Cheesman-Dutton has proven herself a highly capable and successful business turnaround specialist — so it would come as no surprise to those who know her that she won the 2020 National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Business Professional Award.

The NAWIC Business Professional Award recognises the dedication and excellence of an individual who has played a significant operations role within an organisation in the South Australian construction industry and contributed substantially to business growth or project success.

IMG 6156 webNikki with Tom Koutsantonis

As Enerven’s Head of Operations, Nikki joined the business at a critical time. The rapidly changing energy market meant Enerven required a leader who could successfully shift the business from status quo to perform at the next level.

Alison Bussey, Head of People Support Services at Enerven, said that Nikki has had a positive impact on the business from her first day and is particularly passionate about driving others to achieve.

“As a prominent role model, particularly for women in the business, Nikki is committed to building strong relationships in order to maximise the potential of her people at both an individual and team level.

“She has developed a culture of high-performance and brought a competitive edge into a formerly regulated business.”

As part of Enerven’s efforts to identify substantial cost-savings, efficiency improvements and opportunities to create additional revenue, Nikki is leading Powering Ahead — a program of work she says will inevitably grow Enerven’s business potential and organisational maturity.

“The initiatives behind Powering Ahead will improve project transparency and reporting tools, and create standardised processes across the business,” said Nikki.

“The outcomes of the Powering Ahead project will guide us to become a leaner and more efficient business by improving the way we work across the entire organisation.”

with Dan

Nikki with Dan Van Holst Pellikaan (Minister for Energy and Mining) and Bettina Venner (Manager, Supply Chain Development – SA Government) at the 2018 APPEA Conference

Nikki is already kicking goals at Enerven, leading them on a path of significant growth and sustainability, and has never shied away from hard work — starting her own business when she was just 21.

“Over 12 years I grew the business to service clients such as Telstra, Transport SA, Alstom, and more,” said Nikki.

During this time Nikki also had five children — all boys — which meant sleep was scarce and she admits not taking any maternity leave.

“It was hard work but this experience made me a better manager — I became an expert juggler, adapted to seamlessly transitioning between parent and managing director, and learned to prioritise the big stuff and not get lost in the affray.”

From starting her own business at a young age and throughout her career, Nikki has demonstrated her capacity and capability to be an adaptive leader.

“Being a woman in a leadership position within traditionally male-dominated industries comes with its challenges, but I have learned to be authentic and successful in my own right, and gain the respect of women and men alike,” said Nikki.

“I truly hope I can ease the path for other women to do the same.”

As a person who highly values relationships, Nikki has always been prepared to invest in understanding the perspectives of others and is an advocate for always asking questions — of yourself and others — to gain new perspectives and knowledge and open yourself up to alternative solutions.

Naturally, her eagerness to question means Nikki has an underlying appetite for learning.

“I love coming to work each day to learn something new, to work with different people, to create change and make a difference. Working with so many different people and personalities alone has significantly influenced my leadership style.”

Nikki is known for her drive and passion at work but it is easy to see this extends to everything she does.

TINYNI webNikki's first photo in construction

Outside of work, Nikki is an energetic, present, and hands-on mum to her five sons has achieved a Master of Business and is working towards a Doctorate in Philosophy — and has trained for and run two marathons!

Congratulations to Nikki for winning the 2020 National Association of Women in Construction Business Professional Award — it is a well-deserved win and a true reflection of your commitment, drive, and tenacity.