Annabella Dao Knows Firsthand the Benefits of Community Changing Projects

Starting with the firm as an undergraduate in 2016, Annabella Dao has a passion for connecting people and communities through large-scale transport projects. In this #EngineeredOURWay profile, she shares a bit about herself, discusses what drives her and highlights her thoughts on the next generation of engineers who will lead the industry.

Recently promoted to Civil Engineer, Annabella says, “The two-year WSP Graduate Program was an awesome experience that helped me to better understand my strengths and key areas of development. During that time, I was fortunate to have an amazing mentor who has been my sounding board throughout the years.


“The Graduate Program is a valuable mechanism that actively supports and encourages the development of the firm’s youngest professionals and helps them to fully realise their potential. Made possible by our empowering culture, I strongly recommend it to anyone who wishes to explore a career within the firm.”


Growing up in Sydney’s west, Annabella says the opportunity to work on the Parramatta Light Rail has been surreal. “I’m situated in the Project Office which is only a 15-minute walk from my house. Knowing that I’m contributing to a rail transit project that will have an impact on my day-to-day life only fuels my desire to work on initiatives that will benefit our community.”


Graduating from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Engineering and Commerce in 2017, Annabella is ambitious and determined. She adds, “Over the short to mid-term, I want to continue to develop my technical skills. I believe that this will give me the foundation to become more client-facing in the long-term. Leading projects and people is something I aspire to and having had a little taste of it already, I see myself in this space full-time down the track.


“To ensure I become the best leader I can be, I have been observing some of the leaders in the firm since I started. I am amazed by their level of empathy and ability to inspire and be inspired. I think what stands out most for me is the importance of having great communication skills as a leader.”


Annabella is passionate about bringing through the next generation of female engineers using her own experiences as a guide. “I was one of a few female engineers who graduated in my year,” she says.


“As I was going through school, I was lucky that my parents are engineers and so I was always inspired to develop a career in STEM, but what about those who don’t have role models?


“This is why I joined the Power of Engineering organisation – a team of like-minded individuals who want to help minorities develop STEM careers. We visit schools throughout Australia aiming to inspire kids between years 8 to 10 by running workshops, site tours and providing guest speakers to showcase the benefits of STEM.


“By speaking to hundreds of school-aged kids, we are helping to make a difference. It makes me wonder, is there an opportunity to implement volunteering leave within the firm so that causes like this can gain greater momentum?”


Keen to maintain her creative side outside of the workplace, Annabella has just started her own YouTube channel where she vlogs her day-to-day activities including workouts, concerts and recent holidays. She is also an eager tennis player and enjoys getting out on the court once a week.


Annabella will be presenting her three-step method to decrease gender inequality and lack of diversity in engineering at the 2019 World Engineers Convention in November.