In her own words
I entered transport by coincidence. It wasn’t a particularly family friendly or employer of choice when I was a young woman. However, I was offered the Commercial Manager role at Reliance Rail (the special purpose vehicle established to finance, build, and commission the NSW Waratah Train Fleet) based on my legal experience working in oil and gas on big infrastructure projects. Transport was a new sector for me and I absolutely loved it.
I am a great believer in the connectivity of public transport and the role that rail can play in making cities more liveable and accessible. As well as being the spine of great cities, rail is also vitally important to our freight industry. The emergence of intermodal facilities and connected freight and logistics precincts will underpin greater productivity, efficiency and sustainability leading to better outcomes for all Australians. The whole concept of an intermodal freight and logistics hub with a combination of rail, warehousing, logistics, and robotics stepping up and doing the heavy lifting is a very exciting space to be in. It’s the way of the future.
Listening to diverse voices
It’s about openness, inclusiveness, transparency and sharing a very clear vision. In the development of the Parramatta Strategic Framework, all groups had a common goal for a better Parramatta, and we acted as a facilitating hub between many different groups.
When you are bringing about change, the very first meeting must involve all stakeholders.You must take the time to listen to and build connections between the various parties in the room
Respect for differing opinions and skill sets is fundamental to achieving consensus. People should not be afraid to express a differing view. As Chair, working to achieve a cohesive and supportive Board is important. Management welcomes clear strategy and direction. You must listen, seek consensus, and ensure everyone has the opportunity to put forward their views. Each person brings a different life perspective and skills set and you want to tap into that.
In my experience, the public and private sectors can learn much from each other. Government can learn from the private sector in terms of having a broader suite of skills across projects, including people with legal, financial, and diverse commercial backgrounds, particularly in large scale negotiations. The private sector would benefit from Government’s longer strategic view, particularly in the delivery of major infrastructure. Large infrastructure projects take time to be procured properly, and the community must be consulted. Sometimes the private sector can suffer from short termism.
The case for change
Certainly, more flexible work practices and a more inclusive work culture would bring more women into transport. As would thinking outside the square. If I think about my background, starting with a procurement project for rolling stock, I was recognised for my legal skills and experience in commercial financing. I didn’t have an engineering or transport background however my employer was prepared to tap into my transferrable skills.There definitely needs to be more women in senior management roles, but for this to happen more women need to enter the industry, and those women need not necessarily have to be a ‘perfect fit’ for the role.
I think it is beholden on the industry to promote the opportunities for women in transport, for industry leaders to speak out and say, “there are good jobs in this industry for bright young women and a whole range of things you can do, from transport planning to driving trucks to financing deals.” It’s an area that encompasses many skills sets and opportunities. The sector is often lumped together as ‘transport’, but it has so many interesting facets - financing, project management, planning.
Transport is a sector that really makes a difference to people’s everyday lives. It encompasses rail, road, freight and logistics and private and public transport.
Automated Intermodal precincts seamlessly connecting rail, trucks, warehousing, logistics and freight is the way of the future.
Focusing on rail to transport the heavy freight task will reduce congestion and emissions and lead to safer and more productive supply chains. It’s a sector that will become more attractive to the wider workforce as the sector evolves into robotics and automated supply chains. I am really excited about being part of this change and the benefits to the community. We are on the cusp of great change. Women shouldn’t be afraid of venturing into this world because there are so many opportunities and great support from other women throughout the industry.