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We’re thrilled to announce a new addition to the Manteena family! Meet Taylor, our new receptionist, who has recently joined our team. Taylor has moved all the way from Far North Queensland to Canberra to work with us. We’re delighted to have her on board, and we look forward to the warm welcome she’ll extend to our clients and colleagues. Please join us in welcoming Taylor to Manteena!

Four years ago, Emily Zaja joined Manteena as a receptionist. Since then, she has progressed into two different career pathways within the Manteena team and is now an up and coming Project Administrator working her way through the Cadet program.

How did you end up at Manteena?

I had been in casual roles in retail and childcare and was looking for a receptionist role. Manteena had advertised for a receptionist and office administration role which I applied for. I got the job and started in May 2019. In January 2021 I joined Manteena Security as a Bid Coordinator and decided I wanted to become more involved in project delivery. In May 2022 I moved into the Cadet program and that is where I still am today.

Why Project Administration?

I naturally took an interest to construction after being exposed through a family business. Working my way from a reception role to a more construction admin role was my goal.

I enjoy being a part of a team and working with experienced colleagues who have worked in the industry for years. I enjoy working closely with subcontractors and building relationships with them.

Being a part of a project, whether big or small, is extremely rewarding and there is nothing better than achieving program and budget at the end of a project.

How would you explain Manteena’s offering and approach?

Manteena has allowed me to be in multiple junior roles and to gain experience in both corporate, bid/tendering and project delivery. They have been supportive in my young career journey and helped me navigate to where I want to be.

What is it like to work at Manteena?

Manteena is a close-knit community which allows everyone work closely and collaboratively. We have a great team and really good leadership.

Did you always think this was an area you would end up working in?

Yes and no. I knew after finishing school I wanted to jump into an admin role not really knowing I would like construction as much as I do. When the opportunity came up to work at Manteena I thought this could be a great career path and that has been the case so far.

What would you tell anyone considering a career in Project Management/Construction space?

If you want job satisfaction and to be a part of an industry where you make a difference, then construction is for you. Project Administration is the best of both worlds, being able to be on site and also working in an office environment.

It’s hard to remember a time before the Irish laughter of Maurice Flynn filled Head Office. As a carpenter by trade, the global exposure he has had to construction over the years has led to the expertise and insight we are fortunate enough to have in our Security Operations Manager since late 2021.

How did you end up in Canberra and at Manteena?

I started out as an apprentice carpenter in Ireland in 1984. When I finished my apprenticeship I stayed in Ireland until about 1990 when I went to London for a short stint. From there I moved over to Germany where I worked as a carpenter and eventually became a site manager.

After seven years in Germany I moved to the Czech Republic for three and a half years as a Project Manager on a project from a contact I had made in Germany. During this time I went back to Ireland for a wedding, which was meant to be a weekend trip. However, I met my now wife and didn’t end up leaving!

I stayed in Ireland and worked as a Project Manager for a large commercial contractor completing a range of projects from schools, to uni accommodation, a tennis village, courthouse and police stations.

In 2008, my wife and I moved to Australia with our young family. I started at St Hilliers as a Project Manager and went on to become a Senior Project Manager before joining Lendlease as a Project Director.

In 2016 I completed a course in mediation and dispute resolution to become a qualified mediator which has been a great tool as a Project Manager and Operations Manager. I have completed a number of mediations focusing on construction issues in that time.

I came to Manteena in late 2021 as Operations Manager for Manteena Security and that is where I have stayed.

Why Construction Management?

It seemed like a natural progression from carpentry and I was always interested in management. I love woodwork, woodturning and creating things so it was the natural progression from being ‘on the tools’ while still being involved in something I enjoy.

How would you explain Manteena Security’s offering and approach?

We do what we say we will do and we have a good culture. We specialise in the challenges that the unique type of work we do requires and are fantastic at bringing the logistics and management skills needed to complete those projects.

We are great at managing and understanding client needs from the tender, all the way through to completion which I think sets us apart.

What is it like to work at Manteena?

Very enjoyable. We have great, open and honest communication and I have a great time. We have a great vibe around the office and a diverse range of people with different backgrounds. The balance of construction, defence and completely different industry backgrounds is what makes our team so great.

The leadership from our Directors is also great, and that flows down into the leadership of our individual teams.

Did you always think this was an area you may end up working in?

I suppose. Like I said it was a natural progression for me but I think I am more suited to operations than being ‘down in the trenches’!

What would you tell anyone considering a career in Project Management/Construction Management space?

It can be very difficult and challenging but also very rewarding. There is a wealth of opportunity in the style of projects you can work on, the countries you can work in and the people you can work with.  

Leadership and management skills have been engrained in Charlotte Cooper since well before she joined the construction industry. As a photographer by trade, working at Manteena was only meant to be an interim career change, however 5 years later that is no longer the case.

Talk to me, how did you end up at Manteena?

I was a front of house restaurant manager who had finished studying photography and I was wanting a career change. I wanted something to do that was stable until I figured out my next career move and while I was trying to get my photography business up and running full-time.

Manteena had some Project Administrator job openings, and they took a chance on me due to my cross-industry management skills. I started in 2018 and realised I was actually really interested in the construction industry and I enjoyed the work. From that administrator role I was encouraged to undertake more training and look into advancing into a Project Manager role, which I managed to do after a lot of hard work and a placement overseas on Christmas Island, where I had the chance to assist in more of the project management side of the industry for the first time.

Why Project Management?

I never thought I would end up doing this job but I found myself enjoying it much more than I was expecting. I particularly enjoy how dynamic and interesting working in the security sector is, with the ever-changing types of projects and locations making them more challenging and keeping me on my toes! I thrive in that dynamic, constantly changing area where I am working on a classified or overseas project one day, using my phone to translate emails, and then working in a local exhibition fitout the next.

It is so interesting, the different information I have learnt while working with Manteena Security is unbelievable!

How would you explain Manteena’s offering and approach?

Manteena Security offers a dynamic range of projects locally, and all over the world. They have a passion for developing skills internally and the amount of opportunities security have given me over the past 5 years is amazing. The internal and external training I have been exposed to has furthered my career, and the opportunities I have been given to visit spectacular locations is something I don’t think I would have been able to do if it weren’t for this job.

What is it like working at Manteena?

We are busy, and the work we do can be challenging, but it is definitely worth it.

Did you always think this was an area you may end up working in?

Not at all! But I am so glad this is where I have ended up.

I always wanted to be a photographer. I have a creative and detail-oriented management brain which often means it is working against itself. Similarly, I never knew that these two industries could work together and I thought I would have to give one up, but now I get to photograph completed projects and utilise my skills when I am working remotely, so the two jobs marry up really well an I am so glad I get to do both.

What would you tell anyone considering a career in Project Management or Construction Management?

Even if you don’t think you have the skills to change career or work in construction, you would be surprised with how many skills can cross from a different industry.

Management and administration skills are the same whether it is from hospitality, creative arts or construction, it is all just people management. Everything can be learned if you are eager and willing – just give it a go! There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It started in the living room of a Pearce home in 1979. ACT Branch Manager of National Firm Mainline, John Hailey was faced with a dilemma. Mainline had gone into receivership and were asking John to relocate to Adelaide. But with a young family to raise, he wanted to stay put in Canberra. This became the catalyst for John to go out on his own and start a small project and construction business with the support of his wife. John, ever the businessman, struck a deal with the new owner that he would receive a percentage of any project he could retain under his new company.

Manteena was born.

Why Manteena? We’re sorry to tell you there was in fact no established meaning behind Manteena at the time it was founded, it was a catchy shelf name. However, the meaning of Manteena as we know it today (quality, family, trustworthy, collaborative) started from the day the Manteena name was purchased and continues to be the legacy of John Hailey upon his retirement in the early 2000s.

Alongside his wife Jill, John Hailey created a business that has remained a small family business at heart, despite its growth. Lou Agnello (Construction Manager) joined Manteena in 1981 as a Site Supervisor and describes John as a “straight down the line, fair leader with an incredible passion for education in the industry.”

Lou maintains the philosophy John taught him and continues to drive mentorship across Manteena as John once did. “John stood by the belief that you had to give people a go and improve the knowledge we had within the company. I still aim to keep the values John taught us about what it means to be at Manteena and family and an open-door policy were the main ones.”

Rod Mitton joined Manteena in 1987, by which time Manteena had 16 staff. He too remembers education being such a big focus for John from the beginning. Rod explains, “John always had a cadet equivalent. Back then it was usually only one but he always put such a focus on developing the next generation of employees from the beginning.”

John was the Project Manager on most jobs in those early days, especially for Minor Works projects.  Rod had the pleasure of working directly with John in this area and recalls being the foreman on a NCDC project in the early 1990s where John gave him his first work ute, and his first mobile phone, fitted on the ute console!

Having come from a background in estimating, John wrote most of the submissions himself on top of acting as a Project Manager. Fortunately, Jill was around to type the submissions for him in the days prior to computers and mobile phones.

“John was a tough task master but generous to a fault. He has always been incredibly generous in his praise of Manteena and incredibly proud of how far it has been taken since his retirement in 2002” says Rod.

Mark Bauer (current CEO) joined Manteena in 1994 as a cadet and worked with John for many years prior to his retirement. He recalls the value John places on his site teams, understanding the importance of having a strong group of qualified professionals to teach the up and comers, while ensuring Manteena’s standards of quality were being met. “John blended strong partnerships with his staff and other subcontractors to ensure the best outcome for everyone involved in a project. The longstanding relationships we have with some of our current subcontractors were created off the back of the philosophy and values of Manteena, which John instilled in all of us from the very beginning.

Similarly, Andrew Kemp (General Manager of Manteena Security) joined the Manteena team in 1999 as a cadet and worked directly for John on his first job. “One of my first tasks was to add up these complex financials for John. I absolutely failed but John stuck with me and moved me to a site in Wollongong as a Project Administrator. By the end of the job, John trusted me enough that I was basically running the project.”

“John was hugely influential in my early career. The way he conducted business, his value as a role model and the level of leadership he demonstrated was incredibly impactful for me. He was a huge champion for my career in the early days and continued to do so after his retirement, giving me a lot of opportunity to establish my career. I was very grateful to have had John as a mentor in my early years.”

While most of us who now work for Manteena have not had the pleasure of being mentored by, or working for, John, his legacy remains. The likes of long-term employees such as Lou Agnello, Rod Mitton, Mark Bauer, Grahame Hollands and Andrew Kemp continue to share the story of Manteena’s origins and reaffirm the values instilled by John from the very beginning.

Construction can be dangerous. From working at heights, to operating plant and equipment, and using power tools, one look at your Project Hazard Register should tell you just how dangerous it can be.

Manteena’s commitment to creating the safest construction sites possible, and mitigating risks ranging from projects such as office refurbishments, through to complex works on Christmas Island and across the Pacific has been a task HSEQ Manager Anthony Hughes (Hughesy) has been involved in since 2008.

As a former Carpenter, Hughesy is very familiar with the cuts, broken bones, minor electrocutions and more severe injuries that come from unsafe construction sites. This awareness and appreciation for the requirement of safe working environments is what inevitably led him to a career in Safety.

So, why safety?

I love construction so being able to be on different sites every day and around different projects makes my job really enjoyable.

As for safety specifically, I have always found it interesting and it’s always changing. Over the years I would say I have been able to inject my own personality into the way we adopt safety on our sites and that has been rewarding.

How would you explain safety?

It’s just problem solving. You work through the methodologies, identify the potential problems (risks/hazards) and find a way to ensure a safe outcome.

We aim to eliminate any risks or hazards we can, and reduce the likelihood of those we can’t eliminate completely. It protects those working on site and anyone who may be in the area at any given time.

What is the Manteena approach to safety like?

We have a unique approach to safety. We like to collaborate with our subcontractors to reduce risks rather than just enforcing safety requirements when they arrive on site. If we think something needs to be worked through, our project and safety teams work directly with those subcontractors and clients to ensure the safe outcome rather than just saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in regard to their solution or documentation.

Overall, I think we are very honest with safety. Sometimes it means our trades assume we are being hard on them when it comes to safety but it has led to a very good safety record overall and we are proud to maintain that.

Through our ISO and OFSC accreditation we have every accreditation needed to complete any job and that allows our teams and clients to be confident we can deliver the work from a safety point of view.

What would you tell anyone considering a job in safety?

Safety officers seem to be becoming rarer and that is disappointing. I think it is a great career path with a wealth of opportunity. Doing things safely is harder so being able to work with project teams and trades to come up with solutions to ensure safe outcomes while still delivering a high quality project on time is really rewarding. No two days are ever the same and you will rarely be bored in your career!

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but with new technology being embedded in appliances, and colours and styles changing all the time, how do you keep up?

We had a chat to our long-term interior design partners, Dept. of Design on what we’re expecting to see coming into our kitchens in 2023.


According to the Dept. of Design team, green is going to be the standout colour of 2023 and not just in small pops. It will be a bold statement complemented by soft neutrals.

“We are seeing more solid colour in kitchen joinery with green being popular, especially when paired with earthy and warm neutral tones. There are fewer selections of cool tones such grey and bright whites for kitchens as palettes move away from high contrast black and white to softer muted colours with a focus of texture.”

Why? Green is a palatable colour that is relatively neutral, whether it is a deep pine or a soft pale eucalyptus green, it doesn’t draw on any particular emotion, creating versatility without committing to a palette that can’t be refreshed.

Natural Stone & Porcelain Sheet

Natural stone has become increasingly popular as each slab offers a unique texture, pattern and colours, and with more cost effective alternatives to classic marbles and granites, natural stone is now accessible to all budgets.

Slimmer benchtops are also starting to increase in popularity due to the development of porcelain slabs, providing a durable textured alternative to resin and quartz based stones, porcelain provides a durable alternative.


With a focus on soft muted tones, texture becomes an important layer in the kitchen palette. The use of natural stone with a honed, leathered or polished finish can change the overall feel, making the benchtop more tactile and welcoming.

Handmade tiles with rough edges and uneven glazes will catch the light and mixing metals will create interest and add warmth.

Adding texture is relatively easy to do and will refresh a renovation or take your new build to the next level.

“Honed, leathered, polished handmade and organic layers are really popular. People are starting to look for new ways to make an impact and Adding texture is something that is relatively easy to do to update and refresh a kitchen, or take it to the next level in a new build.”


In continuing the break away from all white kitchens, timber is making a comeback.

It pairs beautifully with neutral tones and can be adopted in flooring, joinery and benchtops in varying scales to suit personal design preferences.


“Engineered timber, vinyl planks and concrete are still the most popular choices. However, we are also seeing a re-emerging trend for large format tiles.”

What’s In?

Handles are back!

Induction cooktops continue to increase in popularity and are likely to become the new normal very soon.

Steam ovens are becoming increasingly popular as they provide a fresh, clean healthy cooking alternative to microwaves and are ideal for your home baked sour dough and Sunday roast.

Integrated appliances such as fridges and filtered water taps are always a valued addition and provide a clean line to the joinery.

Say goodbye to your overhead rangehoods, downdrafts are IN! Cooktops in your island bench are also becoming on-trend.

What’s Out?

You heard it here first, multiple pendants over your island bench, and kitchen sinks in your island bench are officially out!

“We are also seeing less cabinetry included in main kitchens with more storage and prep areas being integrated into the pantry.”


Born from opportunities to deliver secure projects for the Australian Government on home soil and internationally, Manteena has continued to grow and evolve. It started in 2008 with Manteena being engaged to complete 13 secure construction projects across 12 international countries. From New Zealand to Lebanon, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, the Manteena team were set to be deployed internationally!

The demand for projects of this nature saw Manteena Security established in 2010 to continue to specialise in the delivery of physical security and secure sovereign capability. This resulted in the core capabilities expanding from delivering physical security in support of Australia’s national security, to also include technically difficult and complex logistical projects. With this, the pathway for international projects, especially in remote areas of the Pacific, was paved.

Fast forward 14 years and Manteena has reached the milestone of 100 international projects across 36 countries and 4 continents.

The milestone of 100 international projects has not been a small or easy one to achieve. It has taken 14 years and the hard work of an incredible number of team members from project administrators and managers, to site supervisors and directors. On the milestone, Andrew Kemp (General Manager) says, “I started Manteena Security in 2010 to deliver complex projects for the Australian Government, both in Australia and overseas. To reach the impressive milestones of 100 projects over that time is testament to the hard work of our teams, and the trust that our clients have placed in our capability.”

Our work on Christmas Island and Samoa remain some of our team’s favourite projects.

“The construction industry can be a hard and all-consuming career, but working with a great team to deliver a difficult project is also exceptionally rewarding. I feel especially fortunate to have the opportunity to deliver projects like an Australian Embassy in the Middle East, a Defence facility in the Indian Ocean or a hospital in the Pacific, and that continues to fuel my passion for this industry.

There have been many highlights and amazing experiences from delivering our 100 international projects, but a clear standout was managing the design and construction of the Samoa Parliament in the Pacific.  Jointly funded by DFAT and the Government of Samoa, this project delivered one of the most technically advanced buildings in the Pacific yet was still designed for climate resilience, simplicity of use and low WOL costs.  It is a flagship for the Pacific Australian AID program in terms of quality and also building capacity within the local construction Industry,” says Peita de Boer (Business Development Director).

Charlotte Cooper (Project Manager) had the opportunity to work on Christmas Island on several projects, including throughout Covid. On the opportunity to work internationally and immerse herself in the community on the Island for almost a year, Charlotte says, “I love to travel so getting the chance to work internationally was always a dream of mine, I just never knew it would be with construction until I came to Manteena. I had the privilege of moving to the remote and beautifully diverse Christmas Island with my partner, where we became a part of the wonderful community. We were fortunate enough to make lasting friendships, all while the rest of the world was in and out of Covid lockdowns. It’s such a fantastic place with unique experiences like the Red Crab Migration which we were so lucky to see and very interesting to work around. I’ll remember that time for the rest of my life.”

The international opportunities Manteena Security provide are a unique drawcard for new employees looking for bigger opportunities within the construction industry. Maurice Flynn (Operations Manager), highlights this as a key reason he joined the team in late 2021 – “having recently joined the team, I was drawn to Manteena based on their impressive reputation and unique capability they have developed as builders delivering these types of projects. I look forward to continuing this and being part of the 200 project milestone!”

From bolstering Australia’s national security, to supporting Australia’s global strategic footprint, Manteena Security are proud to have played a part in the safety and security of Australia, and are looking forward to continuing to work in this space across the globe and well into the future.