Graduating as a civil engineer in 1996, her first full-time role was on an oil rig in Indonesia. This proved a catalyst for Mary to seek opportunities away from engineering and broaden her horizons outside of Australia. It was after relocating to London that Mary found her true passion for transport planning.
She says, “Working abroad really helps you gain perspective. I believe the culmination of my experiences has formed me into the person I am today – both personally and professionally. I’ve lived in all kinds of environments from rural to inner city, holiday resorts, outer suburbs as well as extremely populated areas. I think it’s given me a level-headed view of the world, its intricacies and an understanding of what makes our places dynamic.”
Crediting her engineering background as the key to her success as a planner, she adds, “One of my biggest professional achievements has been through working with planners, economists, architects and policy makers around movement and place, and advocating for viewing streets as places.”
Part of her work has helped to influence major projects such as Future Transport 2056 and bodies of work from Transport for Canberra, Department of Transport, Victoria and AusRoads.
“The candid insights I gained internationally has helped me enhance the customer experience for transport planning locally,” says Mary.
Balancing Leadership and Gender
Mary credits WSP’s culture and business structure as a driving force for her accomplishments. She adds, “The value the company places on leadership means I have the opportunity to lead amazing client-facing projects whilst also championing their technical aspects. The flexibility the firm offers brings great value to our clients and better outcomes to their projects.
“I think there is a tendency for professional services firms to separate leadership and technical career paths. At WSP, we encourage our people – irrespective of their career focus – to challenge the status quo, and this is delivering great outcomes.
This ability to challenge the tried and true is something Mary thinks can help the firm and the industry achieve a more balanced workforce. “I want to sing from the rooftops about engineering to all women – from high schoolers to leaders. Engineering is not just about hard hats and boots; it can be your ticket to the world and your chance to positively impact the communities in which you live. These are things that hold great value to me.
“If we can have more women promoting their amazing experiences in engineering, then we can engender a step change. But, this will require us to have more women in leadership positions. To this end, I welcome WSP’s global target of having 30 per cent of women in leadership roles by 2021. It’s good to see us set ourselves a target to make a difference.”
Balancing Work and Life
In line with WSP’s culture and practices, Mary has taken the opportunity to embrace the firm’s flexible working arrangements.
She says, “I’m going back to my roots and relocating to Tasmania to live in an eco-friendly home that I’ve been building in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart. With a solar passive design, the house comes fully equipped with double glazed windows, corked flooring, a wood heater solar panels, and a battery.
“Technology is a great enabler of collaboration and having the ability to work remotely will greatly benefit my family.”
To stay abreast of our latest news, publications, videos and posts, please follow us on LinkedIn.