In her own words
I don’t think anyone involved in the transport industry could be left with any doubt that it’s an area of huge innovation and quite a bit of excitement at the moment as there is an enormous amount of change. The really critical thing is transport is not a static piece; it’s all about the future and all about change. It is about people and how cities work.
Just before the pandemic TTF did a report called Are we there yet? which specifically looked at a whole range of high-tech aspects within the Australian transport industry, the propensity of Australian governments to move with those opportunities, and who was best in the innovation space, benchmarking it back to Singapore. The report covered everything from sustainability and decarbonisation to who is top of the pops when it comes to flying vehicles. And NSW is leading the pack! It is the top state in terms of a willingness to innovate and change and having the runs on the board. In fact NSW’s results came back better than Singapore, which is a global benchmark in terms of transport innovation. Australia has a willingness to try new things and to actually put them in place.
The outlook is positive
One of the features of large organisations and government instrumentalities in transport is that they harness a set of corporate criteria about best practice in terms of having a gender balance in the workplace. Now nobody is going to pretend the problems around diversity are solved at this point of time, but the industry is well served by this corporate governance requirement. It will get better in the next couple of years.
The other factor that will drive an improvement is the global skills shortage in just about every skill area. This shortage should drive more young women into the training and education spaces around transport because it will present great opportunities and the only way the industry will fill the gaps is to recognise more women in critical technical roles. The fact is this amazing skills shortage is one of the best opportunities for women to get promoted and, combined with the governance changes that are happening within a lot of government departments and major private players, will drive permanent change.
Approach with curiosity and agility
The most important career attribute for me is curiosity and agility. I take jobs that have a wide breadth of policy options in them. The main attraction of coming into the TTF role was that while tourism is on a good day pretty sexy, the mechanics and larger legacy issues that revolve around transport and the fact it defines how cities work are extremely interesting to me.
My advice for anyone looking to build their career in transport is to jump in boots first, embrace it and never let an opportunity go by. Try something in part of a transport portfolio you wouldn’t normally think about.
The transport sector will be an amazingly rich zone for jobs focused on sustainability and the environment and it will need a lot of young people interested and engaged in that conversation.
While Australia is not the same as Europe and United States because we don’t have the same critical mass of people, the fact that we have smaller volumes allows us to experiment more and there is a huge amount of innovation happening here. We have a number of companies from the United States and Europe who are leaders in the areas of new technology, new process, and embracing gender diversity in the workforce, and that flows through quite naturally here in Australia. We are quite blessed with the companies that are represented here as they are driving change as well.