Joan Cordellhas done it all, from acting, modelling and founding a girls’ finishing school to working in statistics. Eventually, she established what has become a valuable trove of building and construction information: Cordell, a company now enjoying its golden anniversary.


  • Best accomplishment: Creating a modern, flexible work environment for her employees at Cordell
  • Favourite type of property to invest in: Fixer-uppers “in need of TLC and a makeover”
  • First industry recognition: Being invited to be a guest speaker at the 1979 Building Science Forum in Sydney

“We believed in our new vision of data as an essential tool, and it was a case of explaining and promoting that vision,” she says. “In the end it is amazing how people welcome you when you offer them respect.”

When Joan set up the firm in the 1960s, the working environment she implemented was very modern for its time, including flexible work hours, performance-oriented metrics and a focus on work-life balance.

Her intellect and determination were such that, despite being a woman in a male-dominated industry, she suffered few setbacks.

“If it’s a full-on career you are looking for, there is no glass ceiling for you as a woman,” she says.

“The route to success lies in your willingness to understand the core issues of your industry and then decide where you feel you can best make a rewarding contribution!”


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