Jane Waldock
National Vice President, Professionals Australia

Why did you choose a career in engineering?
I chose engineering in my final year of high school when I discovered it as a profession - it played to my strengths of maths and science, and did not involve blood!

I settled on studying Civil Engineering as it seemed the most flexible, and also catered to my desire to leave something visible on the earth.

Following graduation, I realised that my greatest strengths were actually in the engagement and policy side of things, which allowed me to use my written and communication skills more.

I would emphasise that engineering is a broad church and has room for all types!

Tell us a bit about your career to date
I started in local government as a traffic engineer and later moved to state government as a planning engineer, and project engineer, and then as an environmental engineer - just as contaminated sites became a hot political topic.

My next role was in the oil industry – where I thought I had hit the big time! I lasted four years, and then following my first child’s arrival moved to the consulting world where I could work part-time.

After a stint there I moved into the construction sector, working as an environmental engineer on a major transport project, and then a nationwide maintenance contract. Engineering was diverse, interesting, and challenging. Then I got my first management role, which turned out not to be such a good fit, and after a career break I re-entered the workforce in consulting followed by another role in local government.

After 15 years, I had landed on my feet - it was the perfect fit for me, and I stayed directly employed in local government in the thick of policy development, implementation, advocacy and community engagement. I managed transport and environment teams and loved it!

Currently, I work as a sole trader, employed as secretariat to a local government transport forum. As a one woman show, I get to do almost everything (I do have some backup) – policy; strategy; advocacy; seminar management; secretariat duties and accounts.

What does being an engineer mean to you?
I see engineering as a career where you create a better community. It’s not just about building things, it is also about bringing the community along with you.

Sometimes the road to your goal takes a lot longer than you expected, and the finished product may look somewhat different to the initial sketch, but through applying care and attention you make a tangible difference in people’s lives.

It is meaningful, practical work, I get to work with other professionals and it is never dull!

How did you become involved in the union?
I got tapped on the shoulder early in my career and joined. I started attending Professionals Australia branch meetings, and from there I could see the action that happened at National Assembly and Board, so I stood for those roles and was fortunate to be elected.

Professionally, this was an excellent experience in working on non-technical topics, making big-budget decisions, and understanding the obligations of being an employer in tough financial times.

I get to bring my personal values to the table, and influence the direction of the union, aiming to keep it meaningful, effective and sustainable for decades to come.

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