I was born in South Africa to German missionary parents. I attended German schools in the regions and then went to the University of Pretoria.
After graduating, I initially worked at the National Institute for Transport and Road Research at the Council for Scientific Industrial Research – before joining a boutique consulting firm specialising in transport planning and traffic engineering. I have been a consultant ever since.
I was fortunate enough to be sponsored by the CSIR to do an MSc (Engineering), an interesting challenge made more so by my being pregnant with my first child.
After being offered a sponsored skills visa, I arrived in Melbourne in January 2006 where I have continued my career in consulting.
What is your current role?
From October I will be joining Stantec as the Transport Lead in Victoria.
What first attracted you to get involved in the transport industry?
I stumbled into my career.
My ambition was to join the Diplomatic Corps and I thus studied International Politics and Political Science at the University of Pretoria. However, due to the political situation in South Africa at the time and my political persuasions conflicting with those of the government, I was not able to get a position as cadet. I therefore changed course, completing an honours degree in Geography.
For my thesis I investigated the impact of the location of a taxi rank on the changed land uses in the CBD of my hometown. This proved to be the “ticket” into my career, as the CSIR phoned the university at the end of the year, asking for a student who “knew something about transport”. My name was put forward, I was made an offer and the rest is history.
What has been/will be your involvement with AITPM?
When I arrived in Melbourne, I very soon became a member of AITPM and in June of that year joined the Victorian Committee. I served on the committee for the next ten years and during that time co-convened the 2011 Annual Conference and was the Branch President in 2012-2014.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
One of the most exciting projects I was awarded during my career was supporting the South African Department of Transport in the planning for the Cricket World Cup 2003. The World Cup was held in twelve host cities and our responsibility was to prepare the transport plans for the duration of the games. This was the most exciting and fast paced project I have ever worked on.
What are your personal and/or professional career plans for the future?
I have recently accepted the position as Transport Lead Victoria with Stantec. My task is to build the team and grow the business. I am very focussed on this challenge which comes in difficult times.
However, I recognise and am grateful for the many opportunities my career has afforded me. To give back to the transport community, I have over recent years been an active mentor. I plan to continue doing so and, in particular, use my position at AITPM to strategically advance mentoring in the industry.
Do you have any advice you would like to share to professionals in the transport/traffic industry?
Seize every opportunity that is presented during your career - even if it seems daunting at the time. Always ask questions and find a mentor that has your career development at heart.
I have always subscribed to Gail Kelly’s (former CEO of Westpac) leadership principles, as they are true for any person in their professional development:
Back yourself and be prepared to have a go
Don’t be afraid to take a risk
Focus on people and culture
Learn how to communicate effectively
Do you have any advice or reflections a career in transport and traffic for women in the industry?
The transport industry provides exciting opportunities for a very varied career that always offers new challenges and great opportunities. In past years it might well have been a male dominated industry, but that has changed; and we have so much to offer and so much to gain. We just need to back ourselves.