“A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you, than you see in yourself, and helps bring it out of you.” – Bob Proctor
In late January, I received an email from a professional organisation seeking mentors to be involved in the STEAM Ahead 2021 program. The STEAM Ahead Program is an initiative of Dream Big Australia, a Brisbane-based organisation created to improve connection between industry, schools and universities to showcase the many and varied opportunities in STEAM for women.
I jumped at this opportunity as I am passionate about getting more women into STEAM professions and wholehearted believe that mentoring and forming connections between industry and students is critical to this success. In the STEAM Ahead program, the participants participated in 9 modules relating to personal development as well as topics such as workplace culture and commercial insights. Each module included an interactive forum and a mentoring session with different mentors each week. In my session, I was paired with a second year Mechanical Engineering student and we had a great time discussing different aspects of being an engineer.
As an undergraduate engineer there were a limited number of women in my course and very few visible role models, which made it difficult at times to see how I could fit into the engineering profession. Fortunately, this is changing through some great programs such as the Superstars of STEM program that aims to increase the visibility of incredible women working in STEM industries across Australia.
In the traffic and transport area, I believe that the relatively high female participation rate is a strength, however as an industry we can always do more to promote the amazing opportunities that exist in our field. One way we can do this is through sharing our skills and experience with students and young graduates.
I challenge and encourage each of you to seek out opportunities to participate in mentoring within your workplaces, through educational facilities or other programs. There are many mentoring programs with different focus areas, so I am sure that you will be able to find something that aligns with your beliefs and passions.
I am currently the Principal Engineer (Traffic) in the Operations team for the Metropolitan Region at the Department of Transport & Main Roads. I have nearly 20 years of industry experience in all areas of traffic and transport engineering in the public and private sector, including more than ten years working for local government and over five years in engineering consulting. One of my career highlights was overseeing the planning and delivery of the traffic management for the Queen's Baton Relay and the Road Events for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.