Engineering for Public Works - Issue 24, December 2021

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Bernie-Anne Freeman 2021 IPWEAQ Woman in Engineering

I’ve just wrapped up the first part of an experience like no other. In June 2019, I was selected in the fifth cohort of Homeward Bound (HB), a global leadership program for women in STEM which connects likeminded women from across the globe for an intensive online leadership program that culminates with a voyage to Antarctica. Over the past two years, with the support of IPWEAQ and the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), I’ve been completing the online learning and leadership program. This program fosters connection and encourages collaboration to enhance leadership in order to create a better world. The philosophy of HB is to develop leaders that are legacy-minded, trustworthy and inclusive to all, and support women to take on leadership roles. While the COVID-19 pandemic has placed our trip to Antarctica on hold until international borders reopen, it’s been an insightful opportunity to observe global leadership in action during a crisis. Discussing how different nations, workplaces and families have dealt with the pandemic


and hearing how it has impacted women in STEM, it has been a great privilege to be a part of a global community during this time. Among this network of HB women, those in frontline health care and epidemiology through to other areas of STEM around the globe, each of us had a different experience to convey about a shared challenge. With the life changing consequences of this pandemic so evident, it really highlighted the importance of inclusive leadership and decision making. Having recently wrapped up the online component of the program, it’s encouraged me to pause and reflect on the past two years of leadership masterclasses. The following are my top three leadership learnings that you can put into action today: Learning #1: ‘Visibility without value is vanity’ - Bernard Kelvin Clive. To be a leader that achieves positive change you must master being visible to yourself, to others (your team), and to the wider community. Visibility starts by looking internally – knowing who you are, your story, values and goals. Here the art of storytelling is critical – because if we can’t share who we are, how can we inspire others? Good communication is a must to ensure your message has the desired impact. But there’s a catch. To enact positive change you need to ask yourself: how do my stories serve others? Creating effective, visible leadership starts with a worthwhile purpose and vision, that’s targeted towards a mindset of helping others. Leaders understand and listen to their


audience, to ensure their stories, and messages meet the needs of the people they serve. For me, as a leader, I’m working to create an inclusive and sustainable workplace for my team, where everyone can achieve their own personal goals, while working towards our collective goal. During the HB program, one way we put these skills into practice is through sharing our messages on leadership, women in STEM, diversity, inclusion and sustainability on social media (known as our virtual voyage). Learning #2: Reflecting - Take a moment on the balcony Personal reflection on leadership and learnings was a key part of