On International Women in Engineering Day 2020, we salute AECOM’s women engineering professionals across Asia Pacific. Their technical excellence and leadership provide an inspiring example to next generations of the contribution that women in engineering make to #ShapeTheWorld.
We sat down with Kerry van Donderen, Regional Managing Director – New South Wales & ACT, to learn more about her career story and what INWED means to her.
Kerry, why did you decide to be an engineer and what do you like about the profession?
I always had an interest in the world around me and how it functions, and I enjoyed solving problems; I felt engineering would give me the greatest chance to do that every day. In my current role, I enjoy shaping our business, and all the financial and commercial elements that go with that, but I also enjoy supporting people and hopefully building their confidence to be their very best. I find that very satisfying.
What does equality in the workplace look like for you?
Equality to me doesn’t mean treating people the same, as everyone will have different needs. Equality means being fair and flexible in the way we treat our people, from the policies we set to how they are then applied.
What are the most effective ways to create a more inclusive work environment?
The creation of an inclusive culture comes from prioritising diversity. It’s about the people we hire, the people we include in meetings, the opinions we seek in decision making, the way we connect our people at work, and how we invest in training and development to provide our managers the skills to bring out the best in their people.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of starting a career in engineering?
I think my advice can be applied to anyone, not just a female starting in engineering; it would be to take risks, to be agile and willing to put yourself out there. Doing that can bring the next opportunity, be it a project you want to be part of, or the next step in your career. I also think focusing your development not just on the technical aspects of engineering, but the “soft skills” of being able to build relationships, communicate, and influence people, is key.
Read more about the contributions and experiences of our female leaders across Asia Pacific: