Sandi received highly commended in the Newcrest Exceptional Young Woman category in the 2022 Women in Resources National Awards. We spoke to Sandi about this significant achievement and her role as an environmental engineer with Rio Tinto.
What inspired you to choose environmental engineering?
I am proud to say that I want to protect the environment. I had a strong interest in geography and chemistry in high school, so I chose to study environmental science. This experience provides me with a solid knowledge base of the various factors contributing to environmental problems and how to undertake research.
As I approached graduation, I realised my passion is to solve problems practically, which in turn led to the decision to pursue postgraduate study in the environmental engineering field. It is a multidisciplinary engineering field composed of civil engineering, geotechnical engineering, hydrodynamics and environmental chemistry.
What do you find the most rewarding about your job?
It is so hard to only give one. I am in the closure studies team at the Ranger Uranium Mine in the Northern Territory focusing on environmental studies in landform, water and sediment. I am working on a world-class mine rehabilitation project in Kakadu National Park.
This role allows me to apply the knowledge I learnt at university and build technical and soft skills. My team provides an awesome atmosphere, and we can have a few laughs during busy work seasons. We always support each other to collaboratively deliver projects, which is incredibly important.
How did you feel when you were awarded highly commended in the National Young Exceptional Woman category in the 2022 Women in Resources National Awards?
Very surprised and proud of myself. There were so many amazing finalists from across Australia standing with me on the stage and I remember I was frozen for a few seconds after they announced my name.
This is such a rewarding recognition for me, and it inspires me to continue influencing a better future for the resource and mining industry.
Why is it important for you to be involved on the Northern committee as a volunteer?
I see many problems are still existing, for example, the skilled engineer shortage, fewer females choosing to study in the STEM field and international students finding it hard to work in the field they studied. I want to be part of a change-making journey so future young professionals won’t need to face these problems.
I remember I had many questions about how to find a job as a fresh graduate, or what is the expectation of behaviour at the workplace? And I wish I knew the answers then. Being involved in the Northern committee as a volunteer is a perfect fit to help make a gradual change.
I am a committee member in the Young Engineer Australia Northern Division and a volunteer in a pilot program to help students be more prepared for future careers and promote STEM among school students.
What advice would you give to your younger self when you were just starting out as an engineer?
Enjoy work and explore more outdoor activities. Don’t always try to be perfect at work because sometimes that can be exhausting.
Speak up and provide opinions in meetings. I work in an equal and relaxed working environment, and everyone can have their own opinions and thoughts even though they could be wrong. This is how we make progress via ideas exchange and discussion.
Be more curious about other people you meet at work and attend networking events because it might lead to your next career path.