As a child, Adele had a fascination with the weather. This was encouraged by her dad to the point where he even built a weather station on top of her cubby house! And I’m not talking about a little weathervane with a rooster. I’m talking, high tech wind and water analysis with data feeding back into the family computer.
But then, during school she drifted away a little and was looking to do nursing or such at uni.But a timely conversation shifted everything…
I am the odd one out in my family
Extra discussions during the episode
Future: Prepare that tomorrow will be different to yesterday and today.
a lot of changes over the next five to 10 years
Advice: Get as much experience as you can
give everything a crack
International Space Station
it’s a real example of how you can work together to create… something that benefits so many different people worldwide
Adele is an Environmental Engineer based in Darwin. Originally from Victoria, seeking a change in lifestyle and diversity in work, Adele moved to Darwin – unaware of the huge impact COVID-19 was about to bring.
The move however, has proven a success. Adele has well and truly diversified her knowledge of the environmental sector, working on large range water, land contamination, and waste management projects in the tropics. She has also begun a Masters of Environmental Management at Charles Darwin University.
Prior to making the move to the NT, Adele was working in Victoria in the urban development sector, in water infrastructure modelling, design and construction, and urban development planning permit approvals for stormwater and integrated water management. Adele has also worked heavily in areas of biodiversity significance in western metro Melbourne.
This is a “close” copy of the words that were spoken during the Podcast, Season 4 Episode 17
It is not 100% accurate.
The guest was Adele Faraone
Adele: [00:00:00] I was on the phone of mum on the day that we had to resubmit our preferences and mum said, you know, you were always really keen on the environment and trying to figure out what was going on and why don’t you look at something to do with that. And then engineering came up and..
[00:00:16]I found environmental engineering …
[00:00:17]Mel or Dom: [00:00:17] Did you know any other engineers or did, did your mother know any other engineers?
[00:00:21] Adele: [00:00:21] Nope. Um, both my parents are intensive care nurses, and both my sisters who are younger than me, that they’re at school at the time, but they’ve know all into the medical field as well. So I am the odd one out in my family.
[00:00:36] Mel or Dom: [00:00:36] Oh, wow. And you didn’t get it on day one going, what have I done?
[00:00:40] Adele: [00:00:40] No, I rocked up to my first class and it was geology and I thought I am winning at life right now. Amazing
[00:00:52]Mel or Dom: [00:00:52] so you grew up in Victoria
[00:00:54] and you went to university down there as well.
[00:00:57] Adele: [00:00:57] I did. I went to RMIT
[00:00:59] Mel or Dom: [00:00:59] Nice. And what was your first project, once you left RMIT?
[00:01:04]Adele: [00:01:04] my first project was a stormwater management plan for a new development that was happening somewhere in Melbourne’s East. I can’t remember the specifics of it, but it was basically from start to finish how you put together one of those plans for a planning permit. I’ve done hundreds of them now, but at the time it was a really big deal.
[00:01:25]Mel or Dom: [00:01:25] So you’re a civil environmental?
[00:01:27]Adele: [00:01:27] Yeah. I studied environmental majored in civil.
[00:01:31] Mel or Dom: [00:01:31] Okay.
[00:01:31]Adele: [00:01:31] environmental engineers, there aren’t that many of them, and they usually get classified or put into the same group as civil engineers, or you got your chemical engineers. so we’re you know, a niche little bunch.
[00:01:43] So when I went to uni, I majored in civil, but the options were groundwater and chemical engineering as well.
[00:01:50]Mel or Dom: [00:01:50] When did you officially kind of feel like you’ve stepped into the environmental engineering role?
[00:01:56]Adele: [00:01:56] Wasn’t until I moved up to Darwin.
[00:01:59] Mel or Dom: [00:01:59] Right. Okay. Was that the reason why you accepted the transfer or
[00:02:04] Adele: [00:02:04] Yeah. So I was doing a lot of civil work in Melbourne, which was great. Cause I learnt about consulting and the ins and outs of it and how it all works with contractors and clients and that sort of stuff. so I was working in the water and environment team in Melbourne. So I was working in the urban development sector and pretty much it was you have, you have a piece of rural land, it’s going to be developed what, what happens to water when the landscape changes? So integrated water management and looking at areas of biodiversity significance as well, which was only a small part of what I did, but it was really interesting.
[00:02:43] And that was my last project that I actually worked on. And it just made me go. I think there’s a bit more out there that, that I want to learn and diversify my career with. So why not move up to the NT where it’s all environmental?
[00:02:59] Mel or Dom: [00:02:59] So to where are you working now?
[00:03:01] Adele: [00:03:01] So I’m working at ECOS environmental consultants up in Darwin. So we are one of the, I think the largest territory owned consultants up here that work in the environment sector.
[00:03:13]Mel or Dom: [00:03:13] what sort of things do you do now that you’ve got your real environmental engineer hat on?
[00:03:17] Adele: [00:03:17] so I do a lot more like land contamination work, go out on the field, water sampling. I do a lot more environmental protection licenses plans. So it’s definitely all environmental base.
[00:03:32] Mel or Dom: [00:03:32] It’s so wonderful to hear that you’ve actually, you know, you were in the trenches, learning the ropes and the whole reason you got into engineering. You’ve actually managing to tick that box. So love it.
[00:03:44] Adele: [00:03:44] personally, I get to work with rocks as well, which is great.
[00:03:49] Mel or Dom: [00:03:49] It’s like day one back at uni in regards to the way engineers work in Melbourne is to how they work up in
[00:04:01] Mel or Dom: [00:04:01] a Darwin engineer before.
[00:04:03] Adele: [00:04:03] So I actually work with I’m here in the engineer at the company. so everyone else is environmental scientists. So yeah, it’s a little bit different, I think for everyone, but everyone’s really relaxed. It’s a really relaxed lifestyle up here.
[00:04:15] Mel or Dom: [00:04:15] Awesome. A lot of ’em, uh, did a bit of work with defense up in Northern territory. You’re not going to remember all of us coming up from Sydney cause we were working all around Australia and we’d kind of all be pants and shirts. And you sort of turn up the first meeting and everyone is looking at you, going, what are you doing?
[00:04:32] They’re all in shorts and polo shirts and stuff. Okay. I think we’ve got it now.
[00:04:38] Adele: [00:04:38] it’s a very different lifestyle.
[00:04:41]Mel or Dom: [00:04:41] How long have you
[00:04:42] been in Darwin for? Or.. how long have you been in Northern Territory for?
[00:04:46] Adele: [00:04:46] Uh, since January the see, so I came up, I think maybe two or three weeks before COVID actually came to Australia. I remember
[00:04:55] Mel or Dom: [00:04:55] it’s a good spot.
[00:04:57] Adele: [00:04:57] Yeah, I was, um, I was sitting on my Uncle’s couch… I was living with my uncle for the first couple of weeks until I found a place and got settled. But I remember sitting on his couch one morning before I’d even started work.
[00:05:09] And I was just saying all this stuff, you know, coming, coming on the news and it’s like, Oh my God.
[00:05:17] Mel or Dom: [00:05:17] Back in Victoria at the moment.
[00:05:18] Adele: [00:05:18] Yep. It will then look down.
[00:05:20] I guess before COVID hit, I really saw that there was a challenge with parents working in the, engineering industry. particularly women that had come back from maternity leave, wanting to work part time. And it was a real struggle there because there was a lot of judgment as to why women were working part time.
[00:05:46]why they weren’t available 24 seven to do all these jobs and be on call. And they didn’t have that, flexibility and the respect, and some, some companies just came across as well. we support maternity leave and we have these great programs, but do they really help with that flexibility of working part time, working from home?
[00:06:09]Mel or Dom: [00:06:09] Maternity leave’s great. Well, yeah, well done, but it’s when you come back, it’s not the same as when you left, you need that flexible work style. I completely understand the difference between supporting maternity leave, but supporting flexible work environment. Yeah, definitely.
[00:06:28] Adele: [00:06:28] exactly. So I think now that COVID’s happened and everyone’s had to resort to working from home, there is going to be this real change and perhaps a bit of a challenge to the industry now as to how we adjust to this. But it also might be really good for things like, you know, maternity leave and bringing back parents into the work environment. really supporting them with that. So COVID, although it’s been horrible for a lot of people, it’s actually, maybe part of the solution said how, you know, it’s brought this attention to everyone that we can work from home and you can be flexible and you can work when it suits you, if you can’t work during the day, because the kids are up. you can do some hours at nighttime or before they get up in the morning. Don’t have to be on call 24/7.
[00:07:16] Mel or Dom: [00:07:16] Yeah, it’s, it’s moved everything. It’s almost as though it’s been an opportunity to move everything along. It’s moved like companies into the digital age. It’s it’s made them rethink about the way they operate those companies. And as you said, in particular, in regards to maternity leave as well, by having that flexibility, a large proportion of the problem is getting backwards and forwards to traditional office where, you know, you, you can work and you can work around sort of strange times because we never experienced little ones.
[00:07:46] Don’t exactly sit times. Perfect. I’m not really nine to five.
[00:07:50] Adele: [00:07:50] exactly.
[00:07:52] Mel or Dom: [00:07:52] Yeah. Being able to work around those schedules is only going to help the industry because there’s so few engineers as it is, the more we can keep in the industry, the more that we can get working on projects, it’s only going to benefit the industry as a whole.
[00:08:07]I really liked the way you presented this challenge in that once upon a time pre COVID, if you had have asked, I wanted to do three days a week or two days in the office one day from home. So you don’t have to travel an hour each way to work. Basically it would have been the end of the world. We can’t support you. Forget it. And so then you would tend to look for other roles, whereas.
[00:08:32] Post COVID or COVID cause we haven’t really finished it yet. it’s really forced those, it’s that’s what you’re saying. Dom it’s, it’s really forced that issue that, Hey, you don’t have a choice now. And the whole environment is going to change. are you finding, it might be a bit difficult to speak for the whole industry. but generally speaking between maybe you and Dom are engineering firms rising to the challenge, are they successfully making flexible work life decisions?
[00:09:08] Adele: [00:09:08] To be honest, where I’m working at the moment, the work life balance culture is a priority. The the move for me, sort of highlighted that there are some companies that do it better than others. I don’t particularly work in the, with engineers, so I can’t can’t speak for other companies, but I would like to hope so.
[00:09:26] I would like to think that there is a change now, and it is something that they have to adapt to and they have to jump on board with.
[00:09:37]Mel or Dom: [00:09:37] I have seen that there has been a massive shift and, there were companies that had people working remotely and we’re moving towards that model. prior to COVID, but a lot of the companies have moved to that model. And I think the biggest problem is it’s always that fear of the unknown that when companies hadn’t moved to that model, they were worried about what, what it was going to be like.
[00:09:57] And I think just by being forced to, to change, they’ve noticed that it’s not actually that bad. comes down to setting the parameters for the staff so that they know what they need to achieve. And if they’re achieving the goals that have been set to them, it doesn’t really matter where they work, as long as they’re getting the things done and making sure that the projects are delivered.
[00:10:17] So I think it’s going to be very interesting that the one thing, a lot of engineers I’ve spoken to a missing is the collaboration, they’re finding it harder to collaborate when they’re not in the same room as other colleagues. And just those things that naturally bounce off each other, don’t seem to translate on zoom or, you know, in teams meetings.
[00:10:39] But I think that there’s probably going to be a bit of a best of both worlds from this. So even when we get to the point where COVID is not an issue and people can go back to the offices, I’d still think that people won’t want to be in there five days a week, nine o’clock till five o’clock. I think that that’s something that I can’t see that being forced back on to engineers.
[00:11:02] I think that those days are gone.
[00:11:05]I think perhaps a pertinent question might be along the lines of how can you make this change stick?
[00:11:12] They’re already making a tentative move into flexible work arrangements. But now with COVID, it’s like, boom, you have no choice. but how do you make it stick when it opens up and then suddenly you can go back to the office and you can collaborate in person and things.
[00:11:28]what are your thoughts on that?
[00:11:29]Adele: [00:11:29] I think it comes down to the element of trust. Your trust with your coworkers, your trust with your employees and your employer. I think that the people work better, knowing that they are afraid to work, they’re not being put under the microscope all the time, being pushed to do things.
[00:11:47] The fact that they can get the work done, get the projects in by the due date. it’s really been highlighted during this period that people have had no choice, but to work unsupervised essentially. And they’re still able to get things done. that’s one thing that’s really come through is that there needs to be an element of trust for things to stick.
[00:12:08]Mel or Dom: [00:12:08] I like that. And it’s very true.
[00:12:10]I think the ability to make it stick as well is going to be driven by the employees because there’s so many employees that are saying, well, we enjoy this method of work. So when I go look for a job, then that needs to be part of my job description now. And if there’s good employees that are doing that, then employers, if they want the best candidates for those roles, then that’s something that they’re going to have to offer as part of their workplace. So I think that’s the way to make it stick. it’s really gonna be a case of making sure that the engineers out there that are looking for roles that they need to say, no, this is what we want.
[00:12:49] And then that way it’s going to help to ensure that that doesn’t swing back in the opposite direction, to that traditional nine to five model, in the event that everything, so the guys back to normal from a COVID perspective. Yeah. It’s like the employees standing up going, I want flexible work. Yeah.
[00:13:07]Adele: [00:13:07] not something that’s going to happen overnight. COVID to go away will be the first challenge. And then re-introducing flexible working arrangements. It’s going to take time. It’s not going to happen overnight.
[00:13:19]Mel or Dom: [00:13:19] no, no. It will be very interesting. Seeing the transition out of COVID.
[00:13:26] Adele: [00:13:26] Definitely. I know
[00:13:27] up here
[00:13:28] we wer in lean look down for, I think I was any working from home for three weeks. Just the Easter break. Cause I was out on site and I had to, to go out and work. But, even the transition of heading back into work and businesses opening up and the new normal as they’ve now coined the term.
[00:13:48]it took time. And even now it’s still a bit weird to see all these markings on the ground and hand sanitizer at the door when you walk in and there’s an entrance and there’s an exit and it’s just the way of life now. It’s just accept that. You’ve got to sanitize your hands when you walk in.
[00:14:04] And I do the same when you walk out.
[00:14:07] Mel or Dom: [00:14:07] Yeah. And even standing in queues where even if there isn’t a marking on the ground, I just naturally have that distance and remind the kids step back. And lo and behold, someone stands too close, like huge step back. Well, even when people do go into offices, the traditional offices have changed drastically.
[00:14:25] Like I know now our office looks like you stepping into a pharmacy with all these plastic screens everywhere.
[00:14:32] So this is like, this is transition time stuff. So it’s more the post COVID new normal
[00:14:39] what does the future have installed for the engineering industry?
[00:14:43]Adele: [00:14:43] That’s a good question. I’ve been contemplating this and I still don’t know. I think there are going to be a lot of changes over the next five to 10 years.we’ve seen the impact of what a worldwide pandemic can do to a lot of industries. So essentially rebuilding or changing the way we do things, I guess.
[00:15:06]It’s hard to sort of put into words. I just think that they’re all going to be quite a lot of changes.
[00:15:15] Mel or Dom: [00:15:15] but just brace yourself for changes. I think that’s a valid point. you recognize that there’ll be changes and you’re not a seer you can’t predict what they
[00:15:26] Adele: [00:15:26] exactly. But I mean, also thinking back, you know, you think 50 years ago, health, how much things have changed since then, and that things are gonna constantly change. And we think that, this pandemic is going to define the way we work in the future, but who knows, this could be just a small thing that will happen, and then we’ll return to whatever normal it is going to be. And then the next thing will happen. And I think it’s just accepting that these things happen and everything’s going to be constantly changing.
[00:15:55]Mel or Dom: [00:15:55] It’s just a blip in time, really in the, you know, never look at a long enough timeline. Um.. What would you say to people who are just starting out in engineering?
[00:16:05]Adele: [00:16:05] I would say give everything a crack, try out as many things as you can. I know personally, like I am an environmental engineer, by trade, by degree, but I worked as a civil engineer. I did a bit of structural engineering. I worked as a town planner for a little bit. I worked out in construction? Like just to get as much experience as you can.
[00:16:28]it’s crucial because then you figure out what you like and what you don’t like, and that’s where your passions lie, in the end.
[00:16:34]Mel or Dom: [00:16:34] That’s excellent. Yeah. Give everything a crack. I love the way you said it. Okay. You’re aclimatising to the Darwin vernacular.
[00:16:41] Adele: [00:16:41] definitely.
[00:16:44]Mel or Dom: [00:16:44] just in regards to giving everything a crack. Would you also include in that relocation and trying different places?
[00:16:50] Adele: [00:16:50] Definitely. Definitely. I think about the Adele 12 months ago, she knew nothing compared to what she knows now. So definitely.
[00:16:58] Mel or Dom: [00:16:58] Adele 12 months ago would have a very different conversation with us right now. So what is the Adele right now? what are you impressed about from an engineering perspective? what’s a piece of engineering that impresses you?
[00:17:13] Adele: [00:17:13] Oh, okay. I really, really like the international space station and how that was engineered. I as a kid, look, I love the environment, as you know, and my dad also taught me a little about space. So love, love what they’ve done with the international space station. The fact that it’s the size of a football stadium, it’s huge.
[00:17:36] It is. And the way they assembled it, I think they, they sent it up in 15 different, different parts and they constructed it all up in space. So, yeah,
[00:17:46] Mel or Dom: [00:17:46] They’re all different countries working together as well.
[00:17:49] Adele: [00:17:49] Yeah, there were so many different countries. So it’s um, yeah, I just think it’s, it’s a real example of how you can work together to create a solution or to create something that benefits so many different people worldwide.
[00:18:04]Mel or Dom: [00:18:04] Just finally, do you have an engineer that you admire?
[00:18:07]Adele: [00:18:07] Oh, there’s so many, so many that I’ve worked with that I admire. it’s hard to name one because they’ve all made an impact somewhere along the line, whether it’s personally, professionally, career wise or just, you know, in life. So it’s hard to name one.
[00:18:26] Mel or Dom: [00:18:26] You don’t want to name one? Just like one stand out.
[00:18:29] Adele: [00:18:29] Look. Okay. So there is one, that’s funny how I ever got to know her, her name’s Valerie Mag. She’s a stormwater engineer in Victoria. She’s one of the legends, of stormwater in Victoria. I’d heard of her name and I thought, cool. I’ve seen some spreadsheets that were done by her and my sister, the middle, one of my family.
[00:18:51] She plays cricket. And she got home from cricket one day and said, Oh, I met a lady called Val. And she does what you do. I was like, Oh really? And she was like, yeah, Val had the same reaction because there’s not many of you guys, apparently in the industry and Val kept questioning my sister and then I ended up going to one of her courses cause she, she runs these courses for all different types of engineers wanting to learn about drainage and wetland design and modeling that sort of stuff. And we had a good chat and she’s definitely someone I admire because she’s given me a lot of advice and taught me a lot and consolidated a lot of the things that I know as well in the water world.
[00:19:31] So yeah.
[00:19:34] Mel or Dom: [00:19:34] Oh, that’s fun. I love hearing about normal people, you know, just like, Brunel’s great. And Da Vinci’s great, but yeah, just Val.
[00:19:46] Adele: [00:19:46] Well, yeah, Val Mag from Stormy Water Solutions
[00:19:50] Mel or Dom: [00:19:50] just doing her thing. Do it really well. That’s great. I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for joining us today on Engineering Heroes.
[00:19:57] Adele: [00:19:57] That’s all right. Thanks for having me. It’s been great.
And thank you for listening to Engineering Heroes as we present the new dawn of engineering challenges for Engineers Australia. Your hosts have been Melanie and Dominic De Gioia. You can view this episode’s show notes or learn more about our podcast by visiting our website, www.engineeringheroes.com.au
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