Three Women, Three Careers, Three Questions: Rachel Harding

Introducing Rachel Harding… 

Rachel is a Technical Director at AECOM. She is a Fellow Chartered Practicing Engineer for leadership and management, who has led and managed major projects, environmental impact assessments, environmental management and approvals, and risk assessments over the past 20 years across a diverse range of sectors including rail, mining, oil and gas, and industrial facilities.

Question 1: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievement?  

A few years ago I took on the role of Project Manager for the design team on Rail Infrastructure Alliance (a $1-2B construction job), which forms part of the Metro Tunnel Project. 

My biggest achievement was turning around the design program from 45 packages behind schedule to 6 packages ahead.  This was through a focus on design team culture, intentional listening and a ‘no surprises’ approach to design package delivery. 

Question 2: What would be your best piece of advice for a female considering joining the transport industry?  

It’s okay to fail! 

This is my advice to anyone, but it is more relevant to women as I think we worry more about the ‘what ifs’ in life (i.e. What if I make a mistake? What if I’m not ‘good’ enough? What if I’m not selected? What do others think about me?). 

So don’t be afraid to jump in, try new things, listen and learn, back yourself, and pick yourself up off the ground when you make mistakes and learn from them.  Repeat.   

It’s the best way to learn and grow and take joy in what you do.   

Question 3: Is there anything you would change about the transport industry, and why have you decided to stick around?  

I am new to the transport sector, and was attracted by the transformational, city-shaping projects on the go!  It is an exciting time to be involved.  

If I could change anything it would be the diversity of the workforce.  This is still a work in progress! 
As we move towards more diverse teams (gender, qualifications, background, experiences), we will see more supportive and high-performing teams delivering creative, outcome-focused solutions to transport.   


Three Women, Three Careers, Three Questions: Georgina Mahony

Introducing Georgina Mahony… 

Georgina is a founding Director of Ediom with over 20 years of experience in the delivery of major infrastructure projects including rail, roads, water treatment and airports. She specialises in Design and Engineering Management of integrated teams for large multi-discipline transport projects having lead teams of up to 250 people. She places a heavy emphasis on forming collaborative teams that foster a positive team culture whilst simultaneously driving value and delivery outcomes. Georgina has recently received the 2021 NAWIC Victoria Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Businesswoman. Projects include EastLink, Regional Rail, Komo Airport and Level Crossing Removal Programs.

 Question 1: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievement?  

Whilst it seems a very cliché answer, I’m not sure I have just one! I am proud of a range of achievements in my career based on my experience and role at the time. On reflection, moments I am most proud of tend to involve navigating challenge or change.  Leading teams from 2 to 250 people to deliver outcomes has been incredibly rewarding as has the delivery of technically complex projects in rail, roads and aviation. If I had to name one, it would be starting Ediom three years ago as it ties together all aspects of what drives me and it has been very satisfying (and terrifying!) to build something from the ground up.

Question 2:  What would be your best piece of advice for a female considering joining the transport industry?  

You’ll love it! And the reason I can say that with confidence is there is no single defined career path in the transport industry, hence there really is something for everybody. Take the opportunity to learn more about the various roles, sectors, projects and organisations – nothing works as well as talking to people who work in transport to understand what is out there and what might work for you. In my experience, people are incredibly generous with their time and more than willing to connect you to others.  

Question 3:  Is there anything you would change about the transport industry, and why have you decided to stick around?  

A few years ago, I was giving a small presentation and I was asked why I like what I do. I responded with some general words about problem-solving and working with people etc before a very wise woman (who was well over 80!) stopped me and suggested that ultimately, I like it because my work allows me to feel I am reaching my full potential.  These very savvy words best sum up why I stick around. I do love problem solving and working with teams in a very dynamic environment but ultimately I love that I am constantly learning from incredibly smart people around me and hopefully able to add value back to others with my own experiences.  

In terms of change, I would love to see growth in diversity of thought at the leadership level in transport projects whether that be background, ethnicity, skills, gender or age. This should in turn lead to different ways of tackling problems and attracting more women and men from across society into the industry. As an engineer, one of the reasons I started Ediom was to try to change the way engineers communicate technical issues to stakeholders to drive solutions that consider compliance, people, systems, legacy and value more effectively.  

Three Women, Three Careers, Three Questions: Jo Dougan

Introducing Jo Dougan … 

Jo Dougan is a Project Manager with John Holland and has over 15 year’s multi-discipline experience, specialising in rail and construction. She is currently working on the Rail Infrastructure Alliance in Melbourne. She has worked on a range of projects including construction, rail, communications, power, water, energy and residential/commercial new builds in both the public and private sectors. Her role requires delivering complex projects from end to end on time and within budget. Notable projects include the Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project and the Victorian Line Upgrade in London.

Question 1: What would you say has been your greatest professional achievement?

Prior to arriving in Australia, I earned the opportunity to be involved with the Power, Communications & Cooling Upgrade Project on the Victoria Line of the London Underground. I had the honour of leading an amazing team to deliver major civil, mechanical, electrical, power and communication construction activities within high constrained central London locations, such as Park Lane and Mayfair to tight timescales whilst ensuring the existing rail network could operate a business-as-usual service.

The team I led was highly motivated and dedicated to successfully delivering critical works, against a backdrop of politically sensitive stakeholders including politicians, unions, high profile residents, local authorities and the London media.

Works involved complex technical interfaces to ensure the newly delivered systems integrated with existing assets to provide a seamless and safe network for London. Our construction sites included works opposite the iconic Ritz hotel through to ventilation and evacuation shafts hidden in apartment blocks in the middle of London.

Despite the enormity of the access and technical constraints involved in this program of complex major infrastructure works, the works were delivered safely, with no lost-time injuries on the job (whilst still delivering on time and budget).

The reason I call this out as my greatest professional achievement is that each day everyone involved in this high profile and the complicated project went home to their loved ones safe and as the mother of two preschool boys at the time, the importance of safely returning my construction family home each night sits at the top of the list.

Question 2: What would be your best piece of advice for a female considering joining the transport industry?

Go for it! Jump on board (no pun intended) the transport industry provides an ever-changing and rewarding career for a variety of different disciplines from design, media /communications, construction, finance, human resources – the options and endless and only bound by our imagination.

My advice is, back yourself, use your voice, you are good enough! If you have a seat at the table, you have earnt your right to be there, you may still be in the minority but don’t be afraid to voice your views, the industry will be better off for hearing a diversity of thoughts and ideas, and your ideas are no exception.

Question 3: Is there anything you would change about the transport industry, and why have you decided to stick around?

I’d love to see greater diversity, not just gender diversity, but the diversity of age, culture, experience, and gender across the industry.  I genuinely believe that greater diversity within our industry will result in a more diverse set of thoughts, ideas, problem-solving techniques which will enable our industry to respond to the many challenges ahead.

Throughout my career in Transport, I have worked in very diverse teams and have found, over time, that the teams who consistently were the highest performing had a diversity of highly diversity motivated people all contributing. These people have all shared the same goal and loved learning and working together and that’s why I have stuck around so long. I love working in construction in the Transport industry and learning something new every day.

There is never a dull moment!

International Women’s Day #IWD2022

Young Transport Professionals (YTP) are excited to celebrate International Womens’ Day, raise awareness and recognise the achievements of women.

Did you know – Statistics of our industry (transport):

  • In the Australian transport industry, women make up only 27.4% of the workforce across rail, road, sea, and air.
  • Only 4.5% of transport CEOs are women – well below the Australian average of 20%.
  • The gender pay gap in the transport sector is higher than the national average – 15.9% as against 13.9%.

The theme for this year’s #IWD2022 is #BreaktheBias which has a focal point of not only acknowledging that bias exists in the transport industry but recognising action is needed to level the playing field. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias creates barriers for women to move ahead.

The visibility of women is vital, so this week we will highlight and celebrate three women working and kicking goals in the transport industry. For the Three Women, Three Careers, Three Questions segment, we caught up with Jo Dougan, Project Manager at John Holland, Georgina Mahony, Founding Director of Ediom and Rachel Harding, Techincal Director at AECOM.

Australian transport needs more women and YTP are not only committed to advocating for gender equality, but we are fiercely committed to representing a future with no bias. Let us know in the comments what you or your organisation is doing to help #BreaktheBias.

#IWD2022 #changingclimates #transport #youngprofessionals #3x3x3 #InternationalWomensDay #infrastructure #breakthebias