Quick Chat with the Chair of WIEQ

This week, we sit down with Zhenya Pavlinova, a structural engineer and Chair of Women in Engineering Queensland.
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Quick Chat with the Chair of WIEQ

Zhenya Pavlinova MIEAust is a Structural Engineer with experience in designing multi-level commercial, residential and industrial structures. Zhenya has also gained experience in project management, site engineering (mining and construction sectors) and asset management. Zhenya is the current Women in Engineering Qld (WIEQ) Chair, Women in Engineering National Committee (WIENC) Qld Representative and the QLD Structural Committee Member.


Hi Zhenya! What is your current job/role title and function? 

I have recently joined Jacobs as a Civil/Structural Engineer in the Mining & Minerals Australia/Asia business unit.

Why did you choose engineering as a profession? 

Engineers are sprinkled though my family. I also grew up playing with a lot of Lego, pulling things apart and was more interested in playing on construction sites than playgrounds. After my family migrated to Australia and while attending high school I had a lot of great teachers that encouraged me to participate in programs such as Power of Engineering and Tournament of Minds, and continued to foster my curiosity in math and science. 

What project are you working on now? 

I am working on a number of mining projects, both local and international.

What is the most challenging project you have ever worked on and why? 

Working to fixed and short time lines is always difficult. A couple of years ago I worked as a site engineer assisting the local coal ports around Mackay with engineering support. During an outage you are restricted to a certain period of time to fix as many things as possible with the steel and man power that you have. Some of the structures and machines have been repaired so many times that a conventional repair would not work. You’ve got to think outside of the box.

How can engineering benefit from increased representation of women?

How can it not? There has been so many papers written and statistics analyzed listing benefits such as; increasing economic benefits, continue to grow and develop the skills of existing engineers and ensure there are sufficient amount of graduates produces by universities. Not only do we have to solve the problems in Australia, we also need to solve global challenges and have the ability to look at a larger picture. Women can bring different point of view, perspective and experiences to the table to help solve these challenges.

What is the most recent book you read?

The last book I read was ‘Songs of a War Boy’ by Deng Adut. It’s Deng’s biography and how he went from being a child soldier, to a refugee and man of hope, before finally being recognized as 2016 Australian of the Year.

What podcast or music is on your playlist at the moment?

I’m really enjoying "How I built this", a podcast about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists and their stories behind the movements they built. Some of the stories that have been covered include Instagram, Airbnb, Reddit, Virgin (yes the airlines) and Lonely Planet.

I’m also currently listening to "Brady Heywood Podcast" by forensic engineer Dr Shen Brady, who is Brisbane-based. This podcast discusses engineering failures and disasters. 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be?

As a Structural Engineer I like to think myself as a superhero, my power is that I fight gravity every day.

What is your ideal holiday destination?

There’s no place like home. It’s always nice to visit the grandparents in the Urals, Russia over summer.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the women that I work with, and the trail blazers that have been in the industry for 30+ years. The women on the WIEQ committee both past and present are also an inspiration. At the moment we are planning our events for 2018 and I cannot help but smile by the ideas and discussions that we have. Watch this space!

If you could take a year off to study anything, what would it be?

For the mind, I’d like to study asset management. Infrastructure, buildings and other assets around the world are getting older and older, and being pushed more and more past their used by date. If you have the right processes and systems in place you can make anything last! For the soul, I would like to move to Paris and learn how to bake.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy cooking and entertaining, painting and sometimes renovating.