Julie Mitchell PSM NEM

Deputy Director General (Infrastructure, Management and Delivery) | Department of Transport and Main Roads

  • Change agent
  • Future focused
  • Innovator
Based in: QLD
Modes: Road Rail Busses
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"Diversity is critical in our transport planning and visioning work in terms of accessibility, mobility, and the customer experience of different user groups."

Current Position

  • Deputy Director General (Infrastructure, Management and Delivery), Department of Transport and Main Roads

Previous Positions

  • Deputy Director General (Policy, Planning and Investment) Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Chief Engineer, Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Project Director, Major Infrastructure Projects, Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Manager, Transport Planning Metropolitan Region, Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Principal Policy Advisor Gateway Upgrade Project, Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Manager, Program Development and Approvals, Tugun Bypass, Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Manager, Road Corridor Policy, Department of Transport and Main Roads

Career Snapshot 

Julie Mitchell sets the future direction of the transport system in Queensland.

She defines and shapes key strategies, policies and plans for an integrated transport system that supports the safe and efficient movement of people and goods, while driving value for the community.

Julie ensures investment across road, rail and public transport, active transport, and freight networks ($27.5B over four years) is balanced as part of a single integrated transport network.

Her 30 years’ civil engineering experience covers a broad range of transport related engineering and leadership roles including Chief Engineer for eight years. 

Along with a Bachelor of Engineering, Julie holds a Master of Environmental Management and a Masters of Business Administration. Her extensive and ongoing study provides an in-depth understanding of the benefits and impacts transport infrastructure brings to the environment, communities, and the economy. Julie is a fellow of Engineers Australia.

In 2018 Julie was awarded the Public Service Medal and in 2019 the National Emergency Medal. 

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In her own words  

I would like to say my entry into the transport industry was well planned but as a young engineering graduate it was more about grasping opportunities as they unfolded, and I joined the Department of Main Roads. It was an interesting time because the Department had not engaged any engineering graduates for around a decade, after previously running quite a structured program.

My intake solely comprised three women and we were the first women ever engaged in the graduate program. There was a lot of controversy around it, but we were given some great technical mentors and a lot of support. I felt welcome and made the most of it.

Recently I did the opening session for our graduate program with an intake of around 40 people, with good diversity by gender and also by profession.  Historically Main Roads employed civil engineering graduates and that was it. Now planners, environmental scientists and economists are also part of the program. It’s been a big journey.

As far as acceptance of engineering women in the workplace right now and – in comparison to when I was a graduate - I would say there is a very positive cultural vibe. People aren’t really viewed on their gender anymore - it’s on their performance. So if you're great at your job, you will be recognised and rewarded.  You need women in leadership to get women in leadership – it’s like the chicken and the egg.  Women do amazing things when we do it together.

Visioning tomorrow today

I love the visioning work I do, thinking about what are the things that are going to impact us in the future and how we ensure we are geared towards those new initiatives.

Diversity is critical in our transport planning and visioning work in terms of accessibility, mobility, and the customer experience of different user groups. Every person who has wheeled a pram, pushed a wheelchair, or accompanied a parent with a walking stick experiences deficiencies in footpaths and issues getting on a train or a bus. There is still a lot of work to be done.

We are also constantly looking at the implications of any changes in planning and policy on those who are socially or financially disadvantaged. We are not a transport department for the elite.

An absolute major issue unfolding is the skills we are going to need in the industry. There is a trend for young engineers to seek rewards fast and move jobs. In engineering, experience and working with experienced people is very important. I do worry about people moving around a lot early in their career and the impact that will have on our skill levels, particularly if we are not capturing the learnings of the past.

I have been championing innovation as a skill for several years now.  Having a benefits mindset and the curiosity to stop and ask why, are critical skills.  If we did not constantly question how we can do things differently to achieve a better outcome, we would be left behind in this changing world.    

Be your own advocate

What I discovered about 12 years into my career is that you need to speak up for yourself and put your head out. Don’t die wondering why something happened (or didn’t happen) to you. If you think you have been overlooked for an opportunity, ask the question. It’s amazing how many times the answer to the question is ‘I hadn’t thought of you for that role, would you be interested?’

It’s hard to speak out when you are young, but it has always paid off for me.

My vision for the next five years is...

…a far more diverse workforce than we have ever had in the past. Rail will be huge with the billions being spent, and there will be much more focus on sustainability, climate change, waste implications and social equity. The public purse for infrastructure investment will be used for wider goals than just the infrastructure provided – it will be about the journey and employment that it creates and the industry it develops.

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