I feel privileged to have heard from so many inspirational women leaders at RA’s series of networking events supporting International Women’s Day 2023 as it continued across the country over the past week.
Following the enormously successful events in Melbourne and Sydney that I highlighted in last week’s RA Insider, the series continued in Adelaide, where Judith Formston, Deputy Chief Executive and Head of People and Corporate Services at the Department for Infrastructure and Transport explored the power of flexible work to help women across the transport infrastructure industry achieve their career objectives.
Judith also joined our panel conversation featuring Kate Gilchrist, Director of Transport Major Projects, WSP, which was moderated by Sarah Elliott People Officer, John Holland. The conversation touched on operational as well as strategic issues, including having appropriate facilities for women on work sites, tackling gender pay disparity, finding the right mentors and how to get the best assistance to negotiate employment arrangements, so they properly reflect your value.
In Hobart, we were very fortunate to be joined by Her Excellency The Honourable Barbara Baker AC, Governor of Tasmania.
Her Excellency reflected on her own career, highlighting that if you are the first woman to occupy a position, you are in a powerful position to address some of biases and challenges in a way that makes it easier for those who follow. As an example, she discussed her own experiences as the first female partner in a law firm and referenced ‘The Authority Gap’ as a book containing helpful perspectives and ideas for understanding and overcoming bias.
The keynote was followed by a panel discussion facilitated by Nicky Pollington, CEO, pitt&sherry that featured:
- Harriet Christopherson, General Manager- Pre-Contracts (Australia), McConnell Dowell;
- Denise McIntyre, General Manager State Roads, Department of State Growth (Tas); and
- Yvonne Rundle, Director, Metro Tasmania Pty Ltd.
The panel built on the themes highlighted in the keynote address, noting how communication, confidence, support and mentoring are all critical elements in building successful careers.
Our event in Perth featured Nicole Lockwood, Chairperson, Infrastructure WA (IWA) delivering a keynote address discussing IWA’s market capacity reform recommendations to the WA Government. Central to these is a work stream focused on people and culture, which recommends that industry be supported to develop and pilot appropriate cultural and wellbeing standards along the lines set out in the Construction Industry Culture Taskforce’s culture standard.
The Perth panel conversation moderated by Natalie Lockwood, Acting Research Coordination Manager, Planning and Technical Services Directorate, Main Roads Western Australia, featured perspectives from:
- Leigh Grant, Key Account Manager Transport Portfolio, WA, WSP;
- Janette O’Brien, General Manager HSEQ Transport, Service Stream;
- John Galvin, Executive Vice President, Australia & Asia Pacific, Clough
The panel talked about why it is important for the empowered within the industry to seek out the unempowered – and to start meaningful conversations with them to ensure they feel supported and able to progress in their careers. They also explored why it is vital that people in the industry (at all levels) are prepared to call out bad behaviour and act to ensure it isn’t repeated.
Finally, our event in Brisbane on Tuesday saw Anne Moffat, Chief Operations Officer and Gender Equity Champion, Department of Transport and Main Roads highlight TMR’s ‘Wonder Women’ program, which aims to empower the women working in the department and recognise them for their incredible contributions.
Mentoring is a key element of the program, which also gives participants the opportunity to have input into the development of departmental gender equity initiatives.
Following her keynote, Anne joined our panel conversation moderated by Evelyn Storey, Regional Managing Director, Queensland, Aurecon that featured other leaders from the transport sector in Queensland, including:
- Rebecca Pickering – Inland Rail Interim Chief Executive, Australian Rail Track Corporation;
- Hollie Hynes – General Manager – Roads, Laing O’ Rourke; and
- Emma McCaughey – Bid Manager QLD & PNG Business Unit, CPB Contractors
I take this opportunity to thank all of our keynote speakers, panel members, event partners and RA members for providing such strong support for this series of networking events. The quality of the presentations and conversations is a powerful demonstration of just how much our industry is changing – and the key role that women are playing in driving that change.
RA will soon release a special podcast episode featuring some of the contributions from this series of events – so keep an eye on our website and social media for details on how to listen.
Chief Executive Officer