I came to Australia as a boat person with my younger sister when I was 18 years old. Since then, I overcame many obstacles including battling the difficulties of a new language, adopting a new culture and supporting myself and my younger sister while studying without parental guidance at a young age. I graduated with an Electrical Engineering Degree from UWA and on graduation,was employed as an engineer with Telstra.
During my 22 years career at Telstra, I held many engineering roles with my last role being the Principal Engineer in the Mobile Coverage area,where I was accountable for the planning, design and installation of numerous CDMA mobile base stations across WA, thus I was named, “the Queen of CDMA”. One of my greatest success was the Christmas Island project of which I had end to end accountability from preparing a business proposal, planning, designing to building and commissioning the entire new digital Mobile Network on the Island. More importantly, in 1998, I was the winner of the Olive Zakharov Scholarship which was awarded by the National Council for Equal Opportunity in conjunction with Melbourne's Waite Career Development Centre, celebrating the achievements of extraordinary Australian women.
When Telstra decided to shut down the CDMA network, I left and joined Western Power (WP) in 2010. At WP, after completing my MBA, I held many leadership roles in various areas from Engineering Design, ICT to SCADA and Communications in Asset Management (AM) where I once again was called," the Queen of Comms".
Notably, after a few years working at WP, I became passionate about risk and compliance. Hence,I undertook the Post Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance with the Governance Institute of Australia with an aim to work on a non-profit board or a charitable organisation so that I could give back to the community which gave me so many opportunities and support to achieve what I have and who I have become today.
What boards do you sit on?
A member on the Perth International Women’s Day (IWD) Committee
When and why did you decide to become a director?
When I did my MBA in 2014 and my “Leadership unit” lecturer mentioned about the role of women in our society, gender balance and gender diversity and how women contributed to the world’s economy.
What are your short and medium-term board aspirations?
Short term, sitting on one NFP or charitable board to give back to the community, then 2 boards in Medium and when I retired in 7 years, will get a paid board role in ASX companies.
Outline your career background.
22 years at Telstra as a communication engineer.
8 years at Western Power in various leadership roles in Engineering and IT.
Touch on the challenges and hurdles that have presented themselves, either being on or getting onto a board, and how you overcame them?
When I graduated from the GIA, I have tried to look for vacancies, but there were very limited opportunities in Perth. I had an interview with Dress for Success; I was unsuccessful because I did not have any board experiences and exposure to media for fundraising.
Are there any directors/leaders you look up to? Why?
Kerry Sanderson: former WA Governor
Alannah McTiernan: Member of the WA Legislative Council
Have you had mentors and sponsors and how have they helped you in your career?
I had a past mentor - Chief Engineer at Telstra
I have asked Sue Wilson, General Counsel & Company Secretary Iluka Resources, for advice to get on a board.
How did WOB help you in your journey to the boardroom?
WOB sent me a reminder about the role which was overlooked by me as it was advertised under “NAT” not “WA”.
Any tips for women starting out in their career?
Be positive and persistence so that you can eventually be heard and recognised.
Interview Published: September 2018