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Celebrating International Women's Day with NDY

04 Mar 21

I was delighted to attend Norman Disney & Young’s International Women’s Day breakfast this morning. As the first face to face event I have attended in a long time, I have to admit feeling a little rusty working a room but even with spaced seating it was nice to be back at an event, especially to hear from such an experienced and engaging panel of women from Sydney, and via live stream Melbourne as well.

The theme was “Choose to Challenge” and the panel shared their personal and professional challenges around balance, as well as reflecting on some of the greater challenges we have faced as a community over the past year. I will share some of my key hightlights and takeways from the speakers.       

Panellists included CIBSE ANZ's Young Engineers Network Chair & Senior Engineer at NDY, Melanie Finch who received the David Norman Young Engineer of the Year Award for 2020. Melanie pointed out that, "Those who started their careers last year didn't have those same opportunities to develop relationships and get that full support that you really need at the start. I think that's really important when we're talking about industries where women are typically underrepresented."

Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp identified the normalisation of flexible working as a key benefit to come outof 2020, particularly for working mums, as it has meant that the parental burdens are now shared more evenly in many households.

"Finally, flexible working has been normalised…I’ve been working for four decades and we’ve been talking about flexible working policies and arrangements all of that time and Covid really accelerated everybody being enabled to work flexibly and for it to become normal. Blokes are doing it as well…so we really need to grab and harness that silver lining of understanding that we can all share those responsibilities." 

Professor Julie Willis from the University of Melbourne reminded us that “Confidence is absolutely key, women are encultured to not really have confidence in lots of situations. Not being afraid is a really good starting place and it’s well worth examining the things that you are fearful of and going “and why am I fearful?” 

Government Architect of NSW, Abbie Galvin also commented on the changes this past year to how we use public spaces, city streets and city buildings. 

“Just as we think of our cities as experiential environments, in the same way we need to think of our offices as something more than just a mere transaction. If I go into the office I'm not actually going in to sit at my computer, I'm going into the office to engage with people in a different way.” – Abbie Galvin, Government Architect of NSW

This is something CIBSE ANZ has been thinking about as we plan the programme and look for speakers for the 2021 ANZ Seminar Series. What do flexible workspaces mean for the building engineer, owner and tenant and how do these building maintain efficiency with unpredictable occupancy? Watch this space!

I look forward to having the opportunity to attend more events, conferences, and face to face meetings this year. There is something about human face-to-face engagement that Zoom will never be able to replace.

Sharon Pestonji
CIBSE ANZ Business Development Manager