I joined the Stormwater Industry Association five years ago. I did so because I realised that in order to effect real change, it is not enough to work within ‘the system’. You also need to work beyond it, pushing it to grow and evolve. But what keeps me in the association are the people I have worked with on the committee, whose passion for the protection of our waterways and the creation of liveable urban environments is inspiring.
While I have worked in the environmental and stormwater management industries for the past 20 years, I originally started out as a metallurgist working in heavy industry. After 12 years of sucking in fumes in heavy industry (steel and copper refining), I embarked on a career change in my early thirties, completing an Environmental Science Degree and Master’s in Environmental Research.
Since my career change, I have been fortunate to have worked in local, state and federal government roles, as well as a large stint in the private sector as a consultant. As such, I have gained a wide range of experience, including Integrated Water Management, surface and groundwater monitoring program design, habitat restoration, the development environmental / natural resource management strategies and planning instruments, and contaminated land management.
When I started out in the environmental and stormwater management industries, I focused on environmental sciences, being driven by a desire to understand our natural world and how to protect those things that matter most to our economic prosperity: our natural resource. However, as my experience grew, I realised that the protection of our environmental resources was as much a human and societal question as it was a physical science question. As such, I am now in the final stages of completing a Sociology PhD at the University of Melbourne that focuses on the challenges and barriers facing local government in the management of their stormwater WSUD assets.
As a consequence of my mix of work experience and education, I now find myself with a unique blend of skills, being able to understand environmental related issues from a technical, social and institutional perspectives. I have also become acutely aware of the critical importance of our institutions and their role in ensuring the financial and social sustainability of our society beyond the often counter-productive short-term focus of market and political cycles. As such, I intend to hang around as long as I can, causing trouble and challenging our industry to become even better than it is today.