For Mikaela, painting is a career which connects her to two generations before her; taking on the trade after her uncle, and grandfather, Tony. Mikaela says she finds managing her own work very satisfying. Apart from the early starts and having to get your hands dirty, Mikaela thinks anyone could look into a career as a painter.

Tony, who has been in the painting industry for many years, has taken on Mikaela as his first female apprentice. He says he has noticed a big change in the industry around women in general, “it is changing for the better absolutely.” When asked if he has seen more women enter the industry over his career, his answer is immediate and positive, “Oh yeah, for sure. I like them because they seem more particular and caring actually.”

While Mikaela says, “a lot of people think that [painting] is easy to do properly”, among her friends she is a source of painting expertise. As she comments with a laugh, “a lot of my friends have tried painting, but you go to their house, and you think ‘yeah this is good.’ My friend didn’t know you had to cut in and was just hitting the ceiling so there are all these roller marks on the ceiling.”

Taking part in the Master Painters Apprentice Challenge, we asked Tony if he was at all nervous for his granddaughter, “not really – I just said to her ‘have fun, enjoy.’ She is not here to win a house, so I just told her to ‘have fun, sweetheart, and if you don’t win, we’ll go get a cup of coffee’.” This highlights a truth of their working relationship: outside of work, Tony is still just Mikaela’s grandad, “I said, ‘I’m proud of you, your mum’s proud of you,’ yeah, we just love her.”

Following in the footsteps of her grandfather, Mikaela looks forward to taking over the business someday. For now, though, work is all about respect and accountability. As Tony says, “my philosophy is that Mikaela works with me not for me and I think there is a difference there. You show them respect and they give it back.” Tony says Mikaela responds best to the responsibility of her work, rather than to pressure; “she knows what to do, I don’t tell her. That makes her a much better painter because she takes responsibility for herself.”

Tony and Mikaela perfectly represent the constantly evolving construction industry, as well as it’s bright future.

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