Senior Consultant Danielle Kirby is a certified project manager with a background in engineering and operations. She is Secretary for Engineers Australia Women in Engineering Committee and National Mobilisation Facilitator at Engineers Without Borders. She explains how she is contributing to greater economic outcomes.
I enjoy solving complex problems, both within and outside of work. Currently, I am busy working on two Indec projects. With Sydney Trains, I am developing business cases for technology upgrades to the Millennium and Oscar fleet, and with Auckland Transport, I am reviewing the approach to change management when introducing transport infrastructure and new services to the community.
I strongly believe that gender and community empowerment can foster change and help build a better world.
In 2019, I was appointed Secretary for the Engineers Australia Women in Engineering Committee, Sydney Division. The decision to join the Committee stemmed from my experience at university where I studied a Chemical Engineering degree and was the only female in a few of my classes. During one of my classes, I asked a question of the class tutor who replied to me by asking what I was doing studying something that women aren’t good at and then turned around and walked the other way without assisting me. I immediately saw the need to change the perception that engineering is for men only, as well as the need to promote an inclusive culture and support women in the field.
My role at Engineers Without Borders is around mobilising volunteers and ensuring projects have access to the skillsets needed. Currently, we are putting together groups of volunteers who work remotely to develop technology designs for people with a disability living in rural Cambodia. It is immensely rewarding when communities all the way over in Asia can achieve greater economic outcomes as a result of these projects.
Technology plays a crucial role in enabling far-reaching positive impacts – even more so now, in a post-COVID world. We are still running Women in Engineering events virtually and actually getting a higher attendance rate as people have the flexibility to dial in from home. We are trying to make these events as interactive as possible with the last event involving real-time polls and questions and answer sessions. The remote, online model we are using for mobilisation with Engineers Without Borders means that during COVID-19 we have still been able to co-ordinate over 60 volunteers to deliver eight different projects for the communities in rural Cambodia.
Also due to the pandemic, I see a shift in gender roles at home as many couples have been sharing the tasks that traditionally the women may have been seen as responsible for. I am interested to see if this pandemic will result in some of these stereotypes being broken down for good.
For those considering a career in engineering, my advice is to stick it out through the theoretically (and sometimes boring!) maths subjects in the first year of university as once you get through these engineering has so many interesting pathways and endless opportunities. It is so important to network, as this enables you to learn and gain insights from as many different people as possible, and groups like Women in Engineering and Engineers without Borders are a great way to do this. Engineers without Borders is also a great way to get a taste of real-world engineering practice and to help solve problems that will have a positive impact on people’s lives.
For more information contact:
Steve Ambrose, Managing Principal NSW
+61 2 9233 6566