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.
Interested in joining Professionals Australia?