It was the year 2000 when economic geographer Alison Holloway attended her first AITPM conference.
Alison was working at a Sydney advisory firm at the time and felt the event would be an opportunity to network and take on new ideas. She enjoyed the conference but was disappointed by the lack of women and young professionals.
“Out of about 250 attendees, about 10 % were women and there were probably even fewer young people,” she says. “It did prompt me to rethink if it was the right industry for me.”
Alison did decide to stay in the transport sector and is now CEO of SGS Economics and Planning. She was delighted to take to the podium as one of the keynote speakers at the conference – and equally pleased to see the composition of the conference had changed.
More than 30% of the delegates at the 2023 conference were women, along with many of the presenters and other speakers, as well of course, as AITPM leaders CEO Kirsty Kelly, AITPM President Liz McGregor, and various branch leaders.
While Liz, who took over as president this year, says the role is more about ‘giving back to the industry’, she does hope she can be a role model to younger women.
“This is especially relevant given the changes to the Board criteria,” Liz says. “I really
hope that I can show that it's possible for other women, especially with family commitments, to be on the board and be leaders.
“As an organisation, we have big ambitions to take on a stronger advocacy role and to connect and collaborate with government and industry, and with universities, to ensure we have that pipeline of transport professionals coming through.”
Transport planner Vanina Varnier, a consultant with Aurecon, is vice-president of the AITPM Queensland branch and encourages young women entering the industry to know their own value.
“My advice would be to like yourself, charge ahead, and insert yourself into situations,” she says. “If you can, finding mentors who you can learn from and who may have even paved the way - a good mentor will stay with you for your career.”