Bachelor of Engineering with Honours 2000
CEO of pitt&sherry, an engineering and environmental professional services company.
Can you please tell us about your connection to Tasmania?
I moved to Hobart with my family in 1995, I was in year 11 and went to school at Elizabeth College. I went on to study engineering at the University of Tasmania, so lived in Hobart for six years. At the time I hadn’t lived in any other location for that long (my family moved a lot!) and I moved to Melbourne with my husband who is Tasmanian (we met at University) so I certainly consider myself at least partly Tasmanian. It’s our family’s favourite place to visit, especially the east coast. We always get our fix of Mures & Banjo’s when we’re in town too.
What inspired you to study engineering?
I was always curious to understand the way things worked (for example, why do things that are black in colour get hotter in the sun than those that are white?). I really enjoyed maths and science, and when I heard about engineering through a relative I knew that is what I wanted to do for my career.
Do you have any distinct memories from your time studying at the University of Tasmania that you would like to share with us?
I remember that our cohort was very collaborative. If there was a subject that someone found more difficult, others would help them out. We also had a great social and community spirit. The billy cart ‘chariot race’ around the university and surrounding streets was always good fun (and the engineering team usually won!). UTAS is also where I met my husband, Fletcher (he was studying Mechanical Engineering the same year I was studying Electrical).
I still enjoy keeping up-to-date with what everyone’s doing and am proud of their achievements.
Do you think there are any advantages or challenges to studying in a smaller regional city like Hobart?
One of the advantages is that due to the smaller class size, you get great access to the lecturers and tutors, and we were also well connected with industry. One of the challenges was when the lecturer had their back turned, they knew who was talking!
What do you tell people about Tasmania when you are working interstate or internationally?
Tasmania is a unique and special place. It is home to amazing natural beauty and it has a wonderful community and industries.
What are your proudest achievements to date?
One of the great things about being an engineer is that there is a tangible product at the end of a project. Earlier in my career my proudest achievements were the buildings I worked on. For example: the MCG New Northern stand, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta and the King Hamad General Hospital in Bahrain. More recently, as I’ve moved into leadership roles, I have found a greater sense of achievement in seeing other people realise their full potential. When someone I knew as a graduate engineer secures a project or completes a project, I share in their pride.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
When choosing what to study in high school and at university I always made decisions that would keep most options open to me. I am glad I did that and have continued to do so into my career now.
There is a big focus on trying to encourage more women to study STEMM, what do you think the biggest challenges to encouraging more women to study and work in these areas and how can we overcome them?
I think the biggest challenge is that you can’t be what you can’t see. Many girls aren’t exposed to engineering, so they don’t consider it as an option. If ever asked to speak at schools I always say yes, because I think it may expose someone to the industry who might not otherwise even consider it.
pitt&sherry started as a consultancy in Devonport, Tasmania and it is now a major national player with national and international projects, can you share with us your vision for the organisation?
pitt&sherry has offered engineering and environmental services to several markets for over 50 years. We focus on providing our clients with practical advice and our people pride themselves on being reliable and responsive to their needs. I am excited to continue to drive our excellent customer service across our sectors.
We are really proud to offer scholarships to engineering students at UTAS, which includes a cadetship. We have had two cadets start recently in our Devonport and Hobart offices.
You have had an amazing career and are now leading a major organisation, could you share with us what you think it takes to be a successful leader?
Successful leaders know what strengths they have, and where they need others in their team to support them. Sometimes it can be as simple as getting out of the way of others and letting them do what they do best. Other times you need to step in. It takes a flexible approach I believe.
One final question, how do you deal with setbacks or failures?
I see setbacks as learning opportunities. Its important when something goes wrong to be resilient and not despair. It’s also important to be conscious in leadership positions that others take their cues from how you behave.
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