Inspire : Public Works Jan Feb 2013
27 WHAT ARE THE MAJOR SKILLS AND EXPERTISE YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BRING TO THE POSITION OF VICTORIA PRESIDENT? I’ve been in local government for more than 25 years. I work in a large regional city, the City of Greater Geelong, so I have a broad view of the issues and work required in both urban and rural areas. I was a construction engineer for the frst seven years of my career at the City of Geelong Council. When all the Geelong councils were amalgamated into the City of Greater Geelong in 1993, I moved into a special projects area, looking after customer ser vice enquiries in areas such as special rates and charges, fooding, drainage, and planning of new works. I’ve also worked in the design offce and in project management roles. Currently, I'm the Coordinator of Infrastr ucture Management, so I manage a team that looks after Geelong's new urban growth development areas. It is not just managing an asset and building new ones, it's planning for what's to come. We're building new suburbs and communities. A lot of my work involves liaising with government departments, ser vice authorities or other departments within the council. I have built a good rapport with many different people across different professions. WHAT ARE THE OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF YOUR CAREER? Personally, the 2008 Municipal Engineering Foundation Victoria overseas study tour to the US, Denmark, Sweden and the UK was a very big highlight. I went with four other engineers to see how other municipalities around the world are building sustainable works. It was this experience that made me decide to get involved with the IPWEA. I also coordinate our graduate engineer program, in which we provide work experience to between three and fve tertiary students over their summer vacation breaks. Watching them develop is great -- some of them even come back as staff, either within our organisation or other surrounding organisations. It's good to see them become well-rounded engineers who are equipped to make a positive contribution to the community. HOW BIG AN ISSUE IS THE LOW LEVELS OF GRADUATES EMERGING TO REPLACE THE OLDER GENERATIONS OF ENGINEERS? We were looking at the demographics of our staff recently and about half a dozen had been with the council for more than 20 years and all the rest had less than 10 years' experience. There is that gap in the middle. So we are looking to fnd ways to ensure those 10-year engineers continue in local government and also guarantee that newcomers have the right knowledge so they can jump into the roles. We all put a lot of pressure on the young ones when they start. They are all quite capable and mature, but the customer ser vice and communication expertise is something you only get through experience. We try and mentor them. We provide them with skills training and help them learn from what other people have done. If we can provide external training then we try and do that as well. WHAT PLANS DO YOU HAVE TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS IN YOUR CAPACITY AS THE VICTORIA DIVISION PRESIDENT? Through our events, the Victorian Board is looking to provide and support networking and training opportunities in both regional and urban areas. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN THE IPWEA? It's good to be involved in the engineering community and support others. I know where such support has led me, so I knew I could provide it as well. It's a way to assist people to do something good for their communities, which is what we're all doing this for. The IPWEA has been doing some great things with online networking. Most public works engineers can't afford whole days out of the offce, so it’s great to have access to these resources from your desk. The Ask Your Mates forums and the email discussions are great; they allow the profession to collaborate and learn new things. If anything, I'd like to see this grow. AS THE FIRST FEMALE MEMBER TO BE ELECTED AS A STATE OR NATIONAL PRESIDENT, DO YOU THINK THE INDUSTRY COULD DO MORE TO ATTRACT WOMEN? Organisations generally try to provide a work/life balance. There are some projects where you don't have to be in the offce all of the time, but others require you to be available. There is always a mix of different jobs that can be flled, but there is no job that cannot be flled in public works engineering by a woman. @ There is no job in public works engineering that cannot be lled by a woman.
Public Works Nov Dec 2012
Public Works Mar Apr 2013