International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to celebrate the successes that women have achieved in the workplace. IWD celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world.

With 14 offices across the country, Fyfe prides itself on being a workplace that encourages diversity and how it strengthens our business.

In line with the 2022 theme for IWD #BreakTheBias, Fyfe would like to take the opportunity to celebrate some of the talented women working in our offices across the country. These profiles are only a fraction of the extraordinary women working at Fyfe.

We are responsible for our thoughts and actions and can continue to break the bias in our own communities and in our workplaces by avoiding stereotypes and creating a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

Georgia Eiszele

GIS Analyst | Brisbane

Why did you decide on this career path? 

I accidentally fell into GIS. I love geography and all things earth-science related, so when I discovered at university that GIS was a viable career path and realised that it incorporated my passions and what I was studying, I was drawn to it.

What did you study? 

I studied a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business Management, majoring in Geographical Science and Sustainability.

What subjects did you need to be good at? 

Geography, physics, business, and English, which just happened to be my favourite subjects.

What do you love about your job? 

I love how my job underpins almost all aspects of Fyfe’s work. Most teams use or need the data the GIS team creates and maintains. 

The spatial data and associated attribution we create is used in most of the engineering documents we produce for clients, for example. We also produce maps for the survey team and visualise the data they capture from the field in a meaningful way. Our data also feeds into the drafting team to help them create schematics and other documents that are used for construction.

Did you have any female role models or mentors and what was their influence? 

Not really as I stumbled into this career path, so I had to forge my own way! 

Have you encountered any barriers or stereotypes throughout your career? 

A pretty common stereotype is that it’s assumed I’ll be the only woman in the room, but this is quickly changing.     

What advice would you give to other women entering the profession? 

Go for it! STEM careers are so exciting and fulfilling. It’s exciting knowing that there’s always more to learn and more opportunities out there in STEM, you just have to take that first step.

How has Fyfe helped your career? 

Fyfe has supported me in every step of my career. My role as a GIS Analyst at Fyfe was my first full-time job out of university, and my managers have helped me grow professionally and given me opportunities to take on more responsibilities within the team and the company.  

What is your greatest professional achievement? 

My greatest achievement is being recognised by Fyfe’s biggest clients for the work and support I provide to them.    

What resonates the most for you with the #breakthebias theme for IWD 2022? 

Working in a male-dominated profession and industry means there’s always some bias, so the #breakthebias theme is important. I’m passionate about women in STEM and believe it’s time for everyone to have a seat at the table.

A typical work day for Georgia looks like…

My days vary so much and are dependent on what is priority for that day/week.  A lot of my work is about detailed design, so setting up projects, providing data to different teams, making maps, and ensuring that GIS is the source of truth. It is very rare for me to be able to work on only one project a day, I am usually bouncing between 5 to 6 projects in any given day, so it can be a bit hectic sometimes. I often spend time communicating with clients as well.

Sue Johnson

Proposals Coordinator | Adelaide

Why did you decide on this career path? 

I fell into this role! I was an Executive Assistant to the Business Development Executive of a large engineering consultancy. Through the company’s Realise Your Potential program, this executive suggested I progress my career into Tender and Proposal Coordination. That was 15 years ago and the rest is history!

What skills do you need to excel in bidding and tenders?

For me, the following skills have certainly all come into play:

  • Endurance, tolerance and flexibility 
  • Communication (both talking and listening)
  • Working as part of a wider team towards one goal
  • Being able to visualise and plan the end product from the ground up
  • Solid knowledge of MS Word, templates, Adobe, and so on

And, of course, the golden oldie of ‘good attention to detail’ is key.

What do you love about your job?

Winning a large tender is always satisfying! 

Plus, there’s the variety of projects we tender — in both our services offered and the industries in which Fyfe works — I never stop learning!

What additional accreditations do you have?

I’m a member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) 

Did you have any female role models or mentors and what was their influence?

Although I have not had a female mentor, I have been fortunate to work for or with many extremely talented women (and men) who most definitely became role models. Their influence has resulted in me believing in myself and having the confidence to say what I think.

Have you encountered any barriers or stereotypes throughout your career?

Definitely, particularly much earlier in my working career. 

I still remember my first job, when I was going through the onboarding paperwork and the company accountant suggested that I didn’t need to worry about joining a superannuation plan. The reason he gave was that a woman would always have her husband’s super. I was only 18 and was not married — imagine that happening in 2022!  

There have been other incidents, however, I think this has diminished in later years.

What advice would you give to other women entering the profession?

You will meet many people in this profession, so my advice is to simply treat colleagues in a way that you would like to be treated. It has always worked for me. The other piece of advice I would offer, which at times I have not done particularly well myself, is to try to keep a healthy work-life balance.

How has Fyfe helped your career?

Fyfe has always supported me when possible. One example has been encouraging my membership with the ANZ Chapter of the APMP, which helps me keep current and means I have access to webinars focussed on proposal management and processes. 

One highlight was attending the APMP ANZ Conference in Melbourne where I spent three days soaking up many tender topics presented by keynote speakers, including learning about how other organisations tender and the services available. Networking with other proposal professionals was also insightful.

What is your greatest professional achievement at Fyfe? 

When I started at Fyfe 10 years ago, it was a blank canvas. We now have in-depth Word templates we work with and a healthy toolkit of CVs and case studies — it’s a work in progress as we’re constantly advancing and evolving, but it feels like an achievement.  

The other would be supporting the company’s tenders. Fyfe now tenders for many large work packages for tier-one contractors. Seeing Fyfe shift from smaller projects to large-scale projects and being part of the tender team that helped make that happen has been an achievement.

What resonates the most for you with the #breakthebias theme for IWD 2022?

I think the line “imagine a gender-equal world” resonates the most with me for this year’s theme. Within Australia, I think we have come a long way towards recognising equality, both socially and within our workplaces, but globally I imagine this needs to grow — a challenge for years to come.

A typical work day for Sue looks like…

Every day is different and always busy!  I’ll often be liaising with various teams extracting project information and compiling team-related information to use in tenders, researching, drafting proposals and working with the wider team to make sure we are successful in our tender proposals for exciting projects that come our way.

Dr Ruth Keogh

Principal Environmental Scientist & Contaminated Land Auditor | Adelaide

Why did you decide on this career path? 

I fell into it through circumstance. I first qualified as a registered nurse but based on my interest in science, decided to study Biological Sciences at university. By chance, I enrolled in geology and fell in love with everything about it. I went on to major in geology and completed my PhD. 

That led to a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cape Town, but I decided that my future didn’t lie in university research and completed an MSc in Environmental Geochemistry in Cape Town so I could focus on applied science. 

After returning to Australia, I worked with the South Australian Department of Health monitoring airborne emissions from a lead smelter. Knowing very little about contaminated land at that stage, my next job was in environmental consulting — initially a steep learning curve but it’s now a field I have been working in for close to 23 years.

What subjects did you need to be good at?  

I chose subjects in school that reflected my interests at the time, rather than where my life eventually led me. In Year 12, this included maths and biology but also a number of humanities subjects. Later, as I progressed into higher studies that involved the physical and chemical sciences, I felt like I was trying to catch up on my lack of basic knowledge in terms of both physics and chemistry at high-school level. 

Despite this, I would still advocate studying what you enjoy as you never know where life, and your choices along the way, may lead.

Did you have any female role models or mentors and what was their influence? 

Unfortunately, I haven’t had any female mentors during my career. Apart from my time as a nurse, my jobs have largely involved a male-dominated workforce. 

This seems to be gradually changing and I hope that I have been a mentor of sorts to younger women in my profession by taking on senior roles and pushing out of my comfort zone. 

What additional accreditations do you have?

I am a certified Environmental Practitioner – Contaminated Land, which enables me to prepare, review, or sign-off on reports compiled for the EPA.  

What do you love about your job? 

The variety of projects I’ve worked on over the years and the challenges they have often posed. Although I work from my desk more often these days, I enjoyed the opportunities for interstate travel that my job provided, with diverse projects in Western Australia, Victoria, and the Northern Territory. 

I also enjoy the technical side of my work, mentoring more junior staff, preparing technical presentations, and interpreting data and reporting on the more complex sites. 

How do you give back to the community? 

Over the years I have volunteered in various organisations/roles both personally and professionally. On a professional level, I was involved in the ACLCA-SA for many years and have been both Vice-President and President. I have also assisted with the provision of contaminated land training courses for young professionals and as an examiner/interviewer for the Contaminated Land Certified Practitioner scheme.

Have you encountered any barriers or stereotypes throughout your career?

Yes, as I think all women do — although I have tried to push through these barriers as much as possible and overcome any lingering imposter syndrome issues or doubts regarding my knowledge and abilities. 

A prime example of what women can face in male-dominated fields was the response from a fellow male auditor when I was accredited in Victoria (as the state’s second female auditor): he suggested I was accredited only as a matter of attempted gender balance, and not on my merits.

What advice would you give to other women entering the profession?

My advice to a woman entering any profession, including contaminated land consulting, is to put in the hard yards to establish your career and to trust in yourself that you have the ability to achieve your goals.

Although the easiest path is to stay in your comfort zone, it’s important to put yourself forward for new opportunities in order to achieve a fulfilling career and also to help lead the way for other women to follow.   

How has Fyfe helped your career and what have you achieved professionally during your time at Fyfe? 

My time at Fyfe has helped me consolidate my career and establish myself as a senior member of the Contaminated Land profession in SA. 

Fyfe has provided me with many training opportunities and the chance to advance my technical knowledge. The work environment, both in my immediate team and the broader Fyfe community, is stable and supportive and I have been treated as a valued and equal member of the Fyfe community. 

What resonates the most for you with #breakthebias theme for IWD 2022? 

I think this is a great theme but there is still such a long way to go. Although things do appear to be gradually changing, work-life balance is still a myth for many women as responsibilities outside work (such as child-care) still fall mainly on women’s shoulders. 

The inclusivity statement about “valuing difference” particularly resonates with me, but it’s important to understand that this applies not only to women but also to racial and gender-identity differences as well.  

A typical work day for Ruth looks like…

My day-to-day tasks consist of working on a variety of projects, where I can be preparing technical presentations and reports, interpreting data on complex sites or conducting environmental audits for a range of clients. I also get to mentor some of the younger team members as part of my role, which I really enjoy.

Leanne Gawde

Section Manager | Civil | Adelaide

Why did you decide on this career path? 

I was driven by the creation of structures and enjoyed 3D visualisations of topography and structures. Seeing the result of my designs in ground and how they affect the surroundings and community motivated me to improve and take bigger challenges in project delivery and design. 

Did you have any female role models or mentors and what was their influence? 

Many women of different eras and in various fields have influenced me. For example, the challenges faced by Savitribai Phule who started education for women in India (before Savitribai it was a privilege reserved for men only) is inspiring. There’s also Ayn Rand, Katherine Johnson, Audrey Hepburn and Amy Johnson. These women faced numerous barriers in their respective fields and overcame these with their hard work, dedication, and knowledge.

Have you encountered any barriers or stereotypes throughout your career?

Quite a few at various stages! One example is a site visit by a female engineer was not acceptable. I have encountered clients who want to speak to a male engineer rather than a female engineer.

What advice would you give to other women entering the profession? 

Never give up, concentrate on your goals, and maintain a healthy balance between your work and personal life. 

How has Fyfe helped your career? 

I have a supportive manager who encourages me to take on challenges, and Fyfe’s management policies provide opportunities for additional learning. 

Are there conversations we should have in the workplace about women in roles traditionally ascribed to men? 

There are many underlying attitudes and assumptions. I think we need to bring in a greater awareness of the glass ceiling, glass walls and the like. Women also need to step forward and overcome the learned habits that are holding them back, and this requires support and discussions with their managers.

What’s the ratio of men to women in your profession and does this matter?

In private civil engineering companies, women make up just 10% to 15% of the workforce, a rather low figure. There’s a high need in some companies for more awareness of this divide, but women at Fyfe are supported very well by the management team, and the company never hesitates to hire female engineers if they’re the right fit for the job, both of which I appreciate.

What is your greatest professional achievement? 

Winning ninth place in the 12d International Innovation Awards for my work, and to be known in the industry by clients and authorities for the good work I’ve produced in the past, thus bringing in repeat business.

What resonates the most for you with the #breakthebias theme for IWD 2022? 

Greater equality for professional migrant women

Heidi Gore

Chief Remote Pilot & Surveyor | Darwin

Why did you decide on this career path?

When I chose to study surveying, I was attracted to a balance of working outdoors and indoors, in an area that is technology-forward. As I progressed through and was exposed to different methods of survey, I was drawn to drones and at the time thought it would be a good specialist area to work towards. 

As I made opportunities and took on challenges that were presented to me, I have had some great experiences along the way to becoming a Chief Remote Pilot.

What do you love about working in the Northern Territory? 

We are blessed with plenty of wide-open spaces and diverse landscapes. And an adventure is always guaranteed when you undertake fieldwork!

Did you have any female role models or mentors and what was their influence?

Not when I was starting out, however, I have met some amazing women along the way. I enjoy reading about and seeing articles about women achieving in surveying and similar fields.

Have you encountered any barriers or stereotypes throughout your career?

Before my remote sensing career moved toward drones, I had a little insight into a world where women and men are far from equal, when I was not permitted to work on a project because of my gender. I had to train up an engineer in our team to do my job, despite being the best person for the role.

Surprisingly when I contacted the industry authority to inform them I was going to be going on maternity leave, they responded with, we have never had a Chief Pilot go on maternity leave, we don’t have a policy. They came back to me with their requirements, but it was a bit shocking they didn’t already have a policy in place (2020)!

Overall, though, I focus on being good at what I do and prefer to make advancements in my career based on my ability to do the job well. Making and taking on opportunities are the foundations of progress for me in my career so far. 

What advice would you give to other women entering the profession?

Jump in and see where it takes you, be willing to take on new challenges.

How has Fyfe helped your career?

Working for Fyfe has provided me with exposure to multiple industries and has supported me by giving me opportunities to attend and present at surveying conferences in Australia and abroad. 

Are there conversations we should have in the workplace about women in roles that are traditionally ascribed to men?

Discussions around what can women typically add to the role to help improve efficiencies and methodologies is a good starting point. I think we should create a culture of embracing our differences and seeing them as assets, rather than a cause of contention or even importance.

What’s the ratio of men to women in your profession and does this matter? 

There is a heavy ratio of men in this profession however there are some great programs out there to encourage females to take on the challenge of being a drone pilot and consider it as a career opportunity. I think most women in this field enter it being aware of the higher male to female ratio and are therefore suited to that type of environment. For me it is not a negative factor, it suits my personality.

What is your greatest professional achievement?

Being a Chief Remote Pilot and obtaining an operating licence for Fyfe (ReOC) and subsequently training and onboarding pilots. I’ve trained 30 pilots from October 2017 to now. 

What resonates the most for you with #breakthebias theme for IWD 2022?

Giving a person a chance and allowing them the opportunity to build their skills and capability in their chosen profession, no matter what their gender, is important. 

A typical work day for Heidi looks like…

My day can consist of anything from field operations (flying drones/survey), training pilots (virtually or in-person), producing Instrument submissions to CASA, researching potential new RPAS or payloads, reviewing and approving flight authorisation requests, providing input for tenders as well as many other actions that support RPAS operations, now and into the future.