School of Property, Construction & Project Management
An interview with Priya Pathmanathan – Alumni of the Geological Engineering Undergraduate degree.
Where are you working now?
“Aurecon – Infrastructure Division”
What is your role and what activities does your role entail on a daily basis?
“Environmental Specialist – My role entails developing Environmental Management Plans, Sustainability Management Plans, Reviewing Construction EMPs, Environmental Audits, Construction EMPs and Operational EMPs. GHG foot-printing & reduction strategies, climate change strategies, Working with Sustainability Tools such as IS Rating Tool and Green Star.”
What was your favourite part of your degree?
“I must say the field trips! I also enjoyed the environmental subjects hence started working in that field.”
What do you like best about your role?
“I work in the field that I love and where I can influence outcomes of infrastructure projects in Sustainability and Environmental aspects.”
What attracted you to your role?
“Same as above, being able to positively influence projects and minimise their GHG emissions.”
What is most important to you when looking for a job?
“Company with a good reputation, which has equality, environmentally consciousness in their values and offered flexibility.”
Tell us about your career journey so far.
“Before my current role I was an Environmental Manager in a construction company for 15 years. I started as a grad and became a site envromental engineer, then Project Environmental Manager, Senior Environmental Manager then the Regional Environmental Manager for Vic, SA & Tas. I have worked on a number of very large and iconic projects (Nextgen, Westlink, Southern Cross, Deer Par Bypass, RRL). I have worked on projects in Qld, NSW, NZ as well as Victoria. I had time off when I was a Senior Environmental Engineer to have my 2 children and was offered the Regional Manager role in 2013. In 2014 my company merged with another and I was made redundant and started working at Aurecon as an Environmental Specialist in their Infrastructure division. I was the winner of the National Association of Women In Construction (NAWIC) “Young Achiever” Award (in 2003) and the winner of the “Contribution to Environment & Sustainability” NAWIC Award (in 2014)”
Tell us about the challenges and triumphs you have faced as a female in a male-dominated industry
“Being the only female at meetings, workshops and brainstorming sessions was daunting at the start but you quickly get used to it and I have seen a significant increase in females in engineering roles during my 15 years at Leightons. Triumphs have been getting the company to invest in Sustainability tool and getting engineers to take environmental considerations as core in our works. I was one of the females to drive for maternity leave (other that legislative) and we managed to get the policy up and running! Learning to talk to foreman and site staff in an effective way to get good outcomes (some swearing was required!). Aurecon has a very good distribution of females to males and I actually don’t feel like I’m in a male dominated industry. Consulting is a lot better in regards to equality compared to contractors.”
If you could say one thing to young females looking to enter the industry – what would it be?
“Go for it!! This industry is in desperate need of more females. Our viewpoints and drive will result in better outcomes.”