He could easily notch up one of the sprawling projects he has helped complete as one of his greatest professional achievements.

But the truth is, after 13 years in the industry, he gains the greatest satisfaction from far more humble outcomes.

A Sikh man and the son of Malaysian-Indian immigrants,  Kabir understands the benefits of encouraging somebody, rather than tearing them down.

“I used to want to see a tangible outcome for the work I did – that is how my brain works,” Mr Sidhu says.

“But the more time I spent managing and leading people – something clicked.

“I realised the most satisfaction I get out of the work I do is actually bringing people up and developing them and helping them achieve their goals.

“The jobs are good. But by far and away seeing people blossom in their roles brings me the greatest satisfaction. That’s why I do it. That’s what drives me these days.”

Mr Sidhu was named the Master Builder of the Year at the Excellence in Construction Awards in August.

The father-of-one has been at Harris HMC for nine years, starting as a contract administrator and has risen to become a senior project manager.

Young Builder of the Year - Kabir Sidhu and Family wife Eleanor and Daughter Ajooni
Young Builder of the Year, Kabir Sidhu with wife Eleanor and daughter Ajooni.

“The construction industry has changed quite a bit but when I first started out it was still very old school – the approach taken by so many was very aggressive and hard-nosed,” Mr Sidhu says.

“It seemed like the construction industry was only the kind of place where a certain type of male from a certain type of background could carve out a successful career.

“I was born in Australia so I certainly didn’t cop the kind of casual racism I know so many others have had to contend with but certainly there have been times when I think people simply haven’t shown me the respect I deserve simply because I didn’t fit the cookie-cutter profile.

“It was a constant undertone but you persevere and fight through it.

“I definitely understand that as a young person starting out in the industry if you’re not willing to conform, you’re left wondering if this is really the industry you want to be in? 

“Thankfully you don’t have to fit the mould of what makes a good builder anymore.

“I have learned that there are different ways of holding people to account, and that’s what I try and instil in our emerging employees.

 “You don’t always have to be highly aggressive. And the representation from women and minorities is increasing.

“I have developed a natural style for knowing how to navigate a situation and to hold my ground.

“What I have tried to show is that you can do things in your own way and be successful.  That is one of the things I am most proud of.”

Harris HMC managing director Andrew Headberry said Mr Sidhu was a credit to the company.

“Kabir has a number of great attributes which help him to succeed in our often challenging industry,” Mr Headberry says.  

“Some of these attributes are natural and he has always had them and others he has worked at and developed over the years with support from those around him.

“He is calm and well-considered. Where others may choose to use aggression and intimidation, Kabir uses logic and reason to persuade people of the right course of action.

But he says the real test of Kabir’s standing was that clients continue to request that he is appointed to manage their projects.

“Every second person says they’re `solutions-driven’ but Kabir actually delivers on this and his projects and stakeholders are better for it.”