Career Path Spotlight: Kerry van Donderen
At AECOM, employees are encouraged and supported to pursue career paths that best fit their unique capabilities, interests, and aspirations. Our Career Path Spotlight series takes you through the rewarding career journeys of our employees who have stepped out of their comfort zone and taken on new challenges to chart their own successful careers and growth.
This time, we caught up with Kerry van Donderen, chief operating officer, Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), to learn how she progressed in the business area leadership career path.
Hi Kerry. What do you do for AECOM?
My current role is Chief Operating Officer for ANZ. I make sure all the things that help run our business are working well together so that everyone has the right environment to do their own job well.
Tell us about your career journey and how you got here.
I moved around to create the career path I wanted. I started my career as a civil engineer working for a number of organizations in Australia. These early roles built my skills and experience and taught me where my strengths are. I then joined AECOM through the legacy company Maunsell and moved to Brisbane as a senior engineer in our transport business working on a range of projects around the region.
From Brisbane, I moved to South Australia to take a local area manager role. I found that I love creating teams, getting to know them and what motivates them, and driving success. From there, I went to Sydney where I was the group director for civil infrastructure. Moving to Sydney to take on that role was a turning point. Aside from the personal element of moving my family and my husband’s career to a much larger city, my role and professional responsibilities also grew. I went from a workforce of 150 to over 400 people overnight. I needed to draw on what I had learned and apply it on a much bigger scale. Resilience, being prepared, and drawing on the support of many great people who were around me was key. That experience gave the skills and confidence to take on the role of regional managing director for New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW/ACT) and am currently back in South Australia as chief operating officer.
I think the importance of this summary is that I have been open to pursuing opportunities regardless of where they are. All my roles have given me perspective on parts of the business, our clients, our people, and unique differences all of which have culminated in bringing everything I learned together for ANZ. It is about taking a risk but knowing that the support AECOM provides and the networks that I must draw upon will support my success.
With such an amazing journey, what would you say is the best part of your job now?
The diversity and challenge of my role. Being able to work across the ANZ business as well as in our global arena provides this. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that my team helps run a business of our size and makes a huge difference to people who are delivering for our clients.
I also enjoy the diversity of the decisions I make. It’s not always easy but taking on different perspectives and using data to make the best possible decision is satisfying.
What advice do you have for others charting their career paths?
Take risks, put yourself outside of your comfort zone, and back yourself. There are so many opportunities available, and you can find what you are seeking somewhere within our organization.
What would have been your career plan B?
My childhood dream was to be a marine biologist and work somewhere on the Great Barrier Reef.