Flinders University student An Lam is the latest recipient of the Craig Gibert Leadership Award, with the award presented at the recent Honourable Sir Eric Neal Address.
The Craig Gilbert Leadership Award is presented annually to the South Australian Engineering student who, having completed the penultimate year of their degree, has demonstrated the most outstanding self-discipline, practical engineering ability, interpersonal skills, and leadership potential amongst their peers.
The Award is a perpetual tribute to the memory of Craig Gilbert, former Managing Director of Tonkin Consulting. It is presented by Engineers Australia and sponsored by Tonkin Consulting.
For Lam, the award demonstrates how far she’s come since starting her time at Flinders University, and she described her reaction as one of both surprise and excitement.
‘Looking back to my first year at university, I never thought that I’d be nominated as a leader by my peers, let alone win this type of award’, said Lam.
‘Receiving this award in my final year of studies is very special to me, as it marks how far I have come since my first year and reminds me how lucky I am to have had the experiences and opportunities to develop as a leader.’
A mechanical and biomedical engineering student, Lam has shown consistent dedication in developing her skills and knowledge base, having taken on a range of extracurricular projects and professional development programs throughout her studies.
Lam’s studies have also seen her represent Engineers Australia as a Student Ambassador, and adventure to Singapore for a five-month engineering practicum.
Throughout her studies, Lam has observed many forms of leadership in engineering.
‘Whether it’s a classmate who is able to boost the self-confidence and motivation of others during times of stress, or a lecturer who has a genuine interest in helping students pursue their passions, I’ve found that the most powerful leadership involves building meaningful connections and having genuine appreciation for people as human beings rather than just their job title’, said Lam.
‘In a field that relies on teamwork and collaboration to drive innovation, I think this is essential in empowering people to thrive creatively and to perform at their best.’
The human element is a factor that has contributed to Lam’s interest in engineering, with the impacts she could make on society a critical element in her decision to study mechanical and biomedical engineering.
‘I was very uncertain about what career I wanted to pursue after high school’, said Lam.
‘I knew my strengths and interests but did not feel ready to limit myself to one particular field.
‘I ended up choosing to study mechanical and biomedical engineering, knowing that it could lead to so many different pathways; engineering is a field that affects so many facets of our society and in that sense, I felt that it was limitless in terms of the contribution I could make in my career.
‘Luckily for me, I ended up absolutely loving the degree and I haven’t looked back since.’
Now in her final year of study, Lam is wrapping up her studies with a Masters thesis while volunteering as a Wellbeing Ambassador to advocate for student mental health initiatives.
‘My aspirations are always changing and evolving, so I tend to follow the tried and trusted work-it-out-as-you-go approach’, said Lam.
‘Like everyone else, the dream is to find where my strengths and passions lie, and I’m open to wherever my path might lead me as I continue to develop personally and professionally.’
Next year, Lam will join Lockheed Martin as a graduate, wrapping up years of balancing her studies with work as a private tutor, typist, retail assistant, and chaperone for driverless vehicles.
‘Currently, my goal is to prove myself as a valuable member of the team, and one day, maybe even as a leader who can empower others in facing our future engineering challenges’, said Lam.
‘I’d like to express my gratitude towards the Gilbert family, Engineers Australia and Tonkin once again for this valuable experience, which allowed me to reflect deeply and evaluate my thoughts on leadership.
‘I’m incredibly lucky to have many wonderful role models in my life and the support of family and friends, and I look forward to further developing my leadership journey in the future.’