Like all good superhero stories, today’s episode will take you on a journey of discovery into modern leadership.
Anne Koopmann-Schmidt is an engineer from Germany, but has travelled the world in her career. Her discussion starts with bias in the workforce and how old–fashioned ideals of leadership – power and authority – need to be a thing of the past. Once youfocus on your strengths and not your weaknesses, this will unlock the power to overcome your bias and allow you to become a more productive and inspiring leader.
“focus on what’s right with people and not what’s wrong”
Anne is a Leadership Coach, Lecturer and Speaker that works with individuals and organisations to empower courageous leaders to inspire others and create impact. Throughout her 10 year career as an award winning Leader in the Engineering industry, she has learned first-hand what it takes to be a courageous leader. As a certified CliftonStrengths, Emotional intelligence and NLP Coach, Anne equips individuals with the key skills needed to become Courageous Leaders that embrace vulnerability, appreciate their unique strengths, celebrate diversity and take action outside their comfort zone.
Her programs are for Leaders who want to make a difference and are ready to step into their full potential.
This is a “close” copy of the words that were spoken during the Podcast, Season 4 Episode 11
It is not 100% accurate.
The guest was Anne Koopmann-Schmidt
Anne: [00:00:00] I just thought it’s a good career and it has a good profile. And so I kind of trusted my parents there.
[00:00:05] Mel or Dom: [00:00:05] And you’re mechanical.
[00:00:07]She did a double degree mechanical and business.
[00:00:10] Anne: [00:00:10] the double degree that I did was fairly new in Germany at that time. And I found that fascinating, cause it was a bit of a mix.
[00:00:17] And maybe because I was a bit intimidated by just goes fully into engineering. but for me, somehow the mixture with business management made a lot of sense. So that’s what I then started and studied. and I really enjoyed the studies. It wasn’t easy I studied six years to do my whole degree. And you can’t actually stop in between. You have to go all the way. so it’s a very long stint. And I chose my major in manufacturing engineering, after I did an internship with Ford back in my hometown in Cologne, in Germany and fell in love with manufacturing.
[00:00:48]Mel or Dom: [00:00:48] how are engineers perceived
[00:00:49] in Germany
[00:00:50] by comparison to how they’re perceived in Australia?
[00:00:52]Anne: [00:00:52] I think engineers in general have a very good reputation. Germany is quite proud of their engineering and it’s definitely a really good career to choose.
[00:01:02] Mel or Dom: [00:01:02] How did your parents know about it?
[00:01:04]Anne: [00:01:04] well, I’m not sure I think they just knew that it had a lot of potential. And as parents, do they want to do the best for you and want to set you up for the best career? I had a few other ideas and then I kind of just trusted them and went with it.
[00:01:16]And it was good. And I, for me, I thought, you know what? I love math. I love solving problems. if that’s what I get to do during my degree, well, then that’s a really good first step. And then I’ll figure out what I do with it on the way
[00:01:28]Mel or Dom: [00:01:28] So what did you do with it?
[00:01:29] So luckily it wasn’t nonstop. in Germany, it’s very normal that you do internships. , so you have to do several longterm internships. so I did my first internship that was roughly four months with Ford in their manufacturing area. And then I did another internship for seven months with BMW in Munich
[00:01:47] really did engineering in the wrong country. You did. Dom loves cars. It’s
[00:01:51] like a dream start for me.
[00:01:54] Anne: [00:01:54] Yeah, and I just love manufacturing cars. I think that always fascinated me the automation of it. And so, yeah, I fell in love with manufacturing and fell in love with manufacturing cars and right, not quite before I graduated, but I also did an semester abroad here in Australia.
[00:02:10] And that’s when I fell in love with Australia and that’s a different story. And yeah, my first job was actually not in the car industry, although that was kind of my wish at that time, mostly passionate about it.
[00:02:20] I wanted to go back to it. But I actually was very fascinated by graduate programs. And in Europe, graduate programs are set up a bit differently to here. They actually often have international assignments as part of it. And because I was in Australia for six months, I kind of wanted to have that international experience again.
[00:02:40] And so I looked for companies that had really good graduate programs and there were some in the car industry where I applied for, but I also started to look at Bombardier Transportation. So it’s one of the biggest train and rail manufacturers in the world.
[00:02:52] It’s a French Canadian
[00:02:53] Still in the
[00:02:54] Mel or Dom: [00:02:54] transport side of things, but.
[00:02:55] Anne: [00:02:55] Still transport side of things. Exactly. yeah, they had a really great graduate program that was going for one and a half years with three assignments for six months in three different countries. And so I applied and it was highly competitive to get through several stages and an assessment center and things like that.
[00:03:13] And yeah, then I was selected, there were 20 of us starting at that point. They came from all over the world, which was amazing. We had, I don’t know, we had probably 10 different nationalities. I started my first assignment in the headquarters in Berlin. And then from there, I went to Canada for six months and then to Pittsburgh in America for six months.
[00:03:33]Mel or Dom: [00:03:33] Right. So what sort of things were you doing though, as the intern? What sort of work were they going to you to do?
[00:03:39] Anne: [00:03:39] So in the graduate program while I was in the headquarters, I worked on the main strategies for the lean manufacturing strategy. So I helped come up with the concepts and kind of coordinate that across all the different sites and helping to come up with new initiatives and tools. And when I went to Canada and the States, I did work in manufacturing and again, I did kind of lean manufacturing on the shop floor.
[00:04:03]Mel or Dom: [00:04:03] you obviously you’ve moved across to Australia now. what brought you to Australia and what are you up to now?
[00:04:09] Anne: [00:04:09] So I came to Australia right after those one and a half years. I always had the dream to come back and live here. So when I did my semester abroad, I fell in love with this country and I knew I wanted to come here and work here. But obviously it’s not that easy if you just from somewhere else and you want to come to Australia, you kind of need to find a company that sponsors you.
[00:04:28] And so I thought, let’s see what happens. And Bombardi did have an office and a manufacturing site here. So after the one and a half years, you kind of start to discuss with your mentor and your main manager. Where you might go for your first proper job. And I kind of really wanted to come to Australia.
[00:04:46] So yeah, I kind of used my whole network and that was a very big advantage of having moved across the globe for one and a half years, we got to meet everyone in the company. We got to meet really high level executives. We got to meet all the other graduates. So we had massive network and I use that network too get a job in Australia and that worked they had just started up to design and plan for the manufacturing of the Melbourne E-Class trams that are now running around in Melbourne. And so they were ramping up the team and they were looking for manufacturing engineers. And so that was perfect. So I, um, yeah, I got the job.
[00:05:22] They helped me move to Australia and that was eight and a half years ago.
[00:05:26] Mel or Dom: [00:05:26] But you’re in a very different role now. Aren’t you?
[00:05:30] Anne: [00:05:30] That is correct. I am worked with Bombardi here for seven years. So in total nine years, I had a very successful, steep leadership, career and amazing career and I had amazing opportunities and at the end I was on the leadership team for Australia, which was very exciting.
[00:05:47] And for me, you know, very successful career step. But what I realized was that. Even though I like to lead and be in the rail industry. When I started to manage managers, what I realized, what I really loved was to help these managers become really good leaders. And I felt that I was very passionate about supporting them, giving them strategies, looking at emotional intelligence, strengths development, and just these leadership skills, communication skills to help them with their soft skills to become real good leaders and kind of start to change the stigma that you might have in the engineering industry, where a lot of leadership is maybe based on power and authority. And I just wanted to challenge that. So I realized that was my passion. And after my son was born, you know, I just kind of felt like I need to follow my passion. So a year ago I actually, I just hit my one year anniversary. I started my own business and now I am a leadership coach and I help emerging leaders and small business owners to become courageous leaders and lead with emotional intelligence and strength.
[00:06:53] Mel or Dom: [00:06:53] Do you feel like you’re leaning on your business side of your double degree now?
[00:06:59] Anne: [00:06:59] Yes, definitely. I think so. Although I must admit that I probably forgot a lot from that degree by now. It’s been a while since I graduated. But I guess a lot the engineering still because the problem solving part of it. So it became very clear to me quickly that I’m not an engineer who wants to get stuck in the detail problems and design the tiny little things. I always was fascinated by the big process. And that’s where manufacturing was so fascinating for me, because I was so interested in how it all comes together and how you can see it from start to finish.
[00:07:31] And so. A lot of my work was regarding to lean manufacturing and quality and process improvement. And so I think this problem solving passion of mine, that’s something that I’m taking on in my business now, because I had to figure out a lot how to run a business and how to, you know, all the things from even video editing to bookkeeping financing, webpage design and just your resilience and the problem solving and starting to figure out who can help you and bringing in the people that you need. It’s very similar to what I did in my job in the engineering world.
[00:08:04]Mel or Dom: [00:08:04] being involved in leadership, and, the development of engineers from regards to leadership, do you tend to find that it’s something that they have in them that just basically needs to be let out? Or is it something that we just, as engineers are not good at and that’s inherently something we don’t do?
[00:08:21]Anne: [00:08:21] I think that’s a very big stereotype that people have about engineers. I don’t think that at all. And that’s why my business is called Lead Like You, cause I’m really passionate about drawing up what’s unique about you and helping you to become the leader, that you can be the best leader.
[00:08:35] You can be with your strengths and figuring out how is it that you build relationships that you will trust. How do you inspire? What’s your purpose? What are your values? How do you want to lead? And then give people the communication skills to manage and lead? I don’t think everybody needs to become a leader and people, some people don’t want to do it, but.
[00:08:53] If you want to you can learn how to, you just need to be open and self-reflective, and still have self awareness or practice to be self aware. But I think, I think it’s a myth that engineers don’t have it. Of course, there’s some, you know, characters that are sometimes, maybe a little bit more stick to themselves or, you know, we have, might have find a lot of introverts, but that’s, again, it’s a stereotype that introverts can’t be leaders because that’s not true either.
[00:09:16] Right. It’s just figuring out what’s your strength, your unique strengths to shine in your leadership role.
[00:09:22] Mel or Dom: [00:09:22] And does lead like you, is that focus on engineers or people in the STEM profession?
[00:09:29] Anne: [00:09:29] I work with a lot of engineers and companies in the STEM profession. So I offer individual coaching for individuals, but I also do programs for organizations and just because of my network and because people identify with me because I am an engineer, I think it’s quite natural that a lot of my work is in the STEM sector.
[00:09:46] I’m not niching down to that, but I enjoy working with it. I feel like I understand these companies a lot. I can rely to their problems and the issues, and also you How leadership has maybe been done in the past, or even sometimes currently still what I referred to before that often is still relied on power and authority instead of influencing and leading with courage.
[00:10:10] I think for me, diversity, it’s a massive part that I’m very passionate about and that I do want to help to improve in companies and diversity, obviously on a gender basis, but also with regards to age or cultures, because I think a diverse culture is a better culture and more successful for a business.
[00:10:32] Mel or Dom: [00:10:32] Yeah. Having spent a lot of time overseas, have you found that there are other countries that seem to have a better handle on it than the we do here in Australia? Or, or is it, is it worse in other countries?
[00:10:43] Anne: [00:10:43] From the countries where I was in. I think it’s very similar in Western cultures with regards to gender, very typical. You just have the few females, but it’s getting more and more across the board, which is great. What I find here and from my experience here was that with regards to cultural background, that the diversity was quite broad already, which is fantastic to see.
[00:11:03] And the company that I worked in, it was a massive mix of people from all over the world with different backgrounds migrated here or born here, but still have parents that migrated here. So that was amazing to see that that was quite normal.
[00:11:17]Mel or Dom: [00:11:17] it’s bad that we don’t have more homegrown engineers, but I think it’s also, it is wonderful that we have that diversity by bringing engineers in cultural diversity. I was going to ask you, Germany is such a well known and proud engineering hub. did you find diversity was an issue going into university yourself?
[00:11:41] Anne: [00:11:41] I never had problems. I never felt like it was an issue for me personally, but I was just one of a few females. So you do stand out. And when you walk into like a lecture with a thousand people and. You’re just one of the females. And sometimes, you know, if you would walk in late, then there would be like a lot of noise going on.
[00:12:00] If you’re the only female walking in late into that lecture. So you would always try to not be late or come in from the back. It was obvious that there were not many females but it never felt like an issue for me. I never felt disadvantaged for it. I think it’s more when you start to find your place and you start to enter the working world, where you sometimes do have to fight against bias. And when you sometimes do feel like you have to fight just this little bit harder or be more careful about how you react and how you approach situations, how you ask for what you need and what you want, or how you tell somebody what you think.
[00:12:35]Mel or Dom: [00:12:35] That’s interesting. So I’m just gonna recap here. So you’re saying while you were studying, you were conscious that you were in the minority, but you never felt like it held you back. But when you got into, I’m going to say real life, when you got into your career aspect of things, That’s when you felt you needed to be careful, or you needed to position yourself in a certain way, is that what you were just saying?
[00:13:03]Anne: [00:13:03] I think it’s just about being aware of it and realizing that some people might have certain biases going on. I can’t say that I ever had a problem. My career was very successful. I always had people looking out for me.
[00:13:16] I had amazing mentors and sponsors in the business who would help me be seen and get the recognition. I also, maybe because people know you quite quickly, it can also be an advantage. And I think for me, that was definitely advantage because people, so me knew me. And that helps if people know about you, then you also recognize for promotions a little bit quicker.
[00:13:38] So I would say I never had a disadvantage, but it’s more in this small situations. So when you try to approach conflict situations, when you try to have a conversation and when it gets emotional, I think that’s where you just have to learn, to figure out how do certain people, go into these situations.
[00:13:56] How do I go into that situation and just start to figure out how to balance that.
[00:14:02] Mel or Dom: [00:14:02] Does the work you’re doing with the leadership is that also help in regards to Developing the skills for those sorts of situations too.
[00:14:10] Anne: [00:14:10] Yes, definitely. So I work with my clients on communication strategies, but also first identifying themselves. And the self leadership part is really important. You have to start to be self aware and know what your triggers are and how you want to position yourself, and then start to understand how do other people approach a situation, what might be their motives, their drivers, what we might be their filters, how they see the world? And then the whole conversation around unconscious bias and what that actually means and starting to recognize that we all have unconscious bias and that people might have that bias against us.
[00:14:44] We might have it against others and just starting to create that awareness and that will already help you figure out those strategies. And then I also do a lot of work around strengths development, and that’s really about starting to see the uniqueness of people and what they contribute and how they contribute to the project that they work on, for example, or to the business.
[00:15:03] And that can help to see past this bias and start to focus on what’s right with people and not so much what’s wrong.
[00:15:09]Mel or Dom: [00:15:09] So tell us more about how we can challenge and remove this unconscious bias.
[00:15:16]Anne: [00:15:16] Yeah, for sure. So I think the first thing is to recognize that we all have bias and it’s actually a natural decision making process in our brains. So it’s quite natural. We all have it. And it’s not a problem just in general that we have bias. It helps us to filter through the millions of pieces of information that we are confronted with at any given point in time.
[00:15:36]you know, you can imagine. Back in the stone age, when we got in certain situations, we needed to be able to really quickly judge whether the people that we are encountering, if they’re familiar to us, if there are threats or if they’re not. So our biases, it’s just like patterns.
[00:15:52] It’s like preconceptions of things that are familiar, for example. So one of the biases is the affinity bias, which lets us to look for things that are similar to us. So naturally we start to scan a room and find the familiar faces, or find the people that look like us or talk like us, just because that gives us a sense of feeling safe.
[00:16:13] And of course that’s very useful, you know, even now in the world where we enter a room or we walk on the streets and we quickly assess if a city duration is safe or, or not, or if we want to react what we like, what we don’t like, so in general, that’s all good. Right. But it leads to us, judging people within seconds.
[00:16:32]And we judge people just based on what they look like, maybe their voice, maybe their color of their skin, maybe the way they speak. Maybe if they’re female or male, we judge them within seconds without even knowing. So that’s the unconsciousness of that. So these things happen within milliseconds when we meet people.
[00:16:49] And so the problem happens when this unconscious bias lets us to make decisions or actions or behaviors that discriminate others. Or actually mistreat others or we hurt others. So you can imagine in a working world, unconscious bias plays a role when we recruit for new jobs, when we do interviews, when we look at who do we promote, who do we give the next big assignment to?
[00:17:14] I invite every listener to start to think of, you know, who are the 10 closes people that you work with. Start to just think of that. Maybe write it down and then start to look at what do they have in common. Do they have a similar educational background, culture, gender, age, what do they have in common?
[00:17:33] And you might actually find that a big part of that. They’re all very similar to you maybe, or to something that you prefer. So just imagine if these people are the people that you go to that you trust most. Who would you go to, to give the next big assignment? If you were a leader and you go into your team and you think of, Oh, I have this massive assignment, it’s very important. It has high visibility. Who do you going to pick? You’re going to pick the person that you trust the most and you trust that person based on your bias. So naturally you’re giving other people that are similar, like you, more visibility, more responsibility. So if we don’t start to check our bias and remind ourselves too double check where we at, and if we are making this decision based on the bias, or if really consciously making that decision, is that person, the right person for the job, or can I maybe take a little risk and give this person a chance, even though we haven’t seen much of that person yet. So I think that’s where it starts and they can in the working world really much effect who we give more assignments to and more visibility.
[00:18:35] And the more visibility somebody has, the higher the chances that they have promotions and have a great a career.
[00:18:40] Mel or Dom: [00:18:40] So what are the, some of the solutions that people can actually work on to overcome this bias?
[00:18:46]Anne: [00:18:46] Yeah, so everybody can work for themselves on it. And there’s a few simple tips, right? The first one is to just acknowledge, we have bias and start to have the conversation about it. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We can release the shame around it because we all have it. And it’s very healthy and natural and normal.
[00:19:03] We need it is that it’s a survival thing, but to start to recognize that we have it, and then it’s about starting to educate yourself. Look at the people that you spend time with and maybe start to spend time with other people that are maybe from other groups that you don’t naturally spend as much time with. Start to read up on cultures or start to read up on certain groups, start to get to know no them join a new group, join a new hobby, something that will give you some exposure or in your business.
[00:19:30] Start to talk to people that you usually don’t talk to them. The thing with bias is… sometimes it’s also, if something is just not familiar , we don’t trust that and we might be fearful and fear drives us away. Again, very healthy, normal process in our brain. And fear often is just based on the not knowing.
[00:19:50] And so the more you expose yourself to other cultures, other people, other genders, other groups, the more you will know them, the more you will trust them and the more familiar that will be. So it won’t be as much of an issue and then start to widen your focus and start to challenge yourself and start to look at, okay, who can you give certain opportunities?
[00:20:09] How can you challenge yourself and be honest to yourself to start to catch yourself when you have that bias. And most importantly, start to practice to refrain from judgment. So, as I said, these things happen automatically. So we might not be able to change the way our first reaction or first thought when we see a person, but we are able to interfere with the second thought and our action that comes from it. So we don’t have to act on this thought. So in reality, what businesses can do for example is obviously to have unconscious bias training because they can go in much more depth and give more examples so that people start to recognize those specific examples. And then another thing that actually I found is very helpful is what I mentioned before around the strengths development.
[00:20:52] Because I found that a very useful way to approach this and kind of bypass the bias is to start to train us, to look at people for their strength. So instead of, to look at for what’s familiar, what do we trust based on our experience and who we are, we can start to appreciate people for their unique strengths and what they bring to the table or what they bring to the project.
[00:21:15] And the more we start to learn and see people for their strengths. So to focus on what’s right with people and not what’s wrong. We actually can start to move around our unconscious bias because we will start to see that this person can be very helpful for us because that might be a blind spot that we don’t have, and that’s how we can work together.
[00:21:32] So if we start to bring awareness to companies and organizations and teams to start to focus on their own strength first, and that’s the wholesale leadership pot, but then start to see what are the strengths of the people that I work with and my team, and then start to see, okay, how do we all play a part?
[00:21:48] Then we can actually start to look past all these characteristics that might get in the way otherwise
[00:21:53]Mel or Dom: [00:21:53] Do you find that positivity, like focusing on the strengths actually also put you in a good position just in regards to the way that projects and groups run. Cause it’s always seems to be that if you, if you take the positive of things, things always tend to just go more easily. have you seen that as being the case as well?
[00:22:13] Anne: [00:22:13] hundred percent. And it’s something that I absolutely believe in that we need to focus on our strengths. For me, it’s outdated that we think that self development and improvement and excellence is through fixing weaknesses. I actually don’t believe that we can grow and we can perform at our best if we do that. we all have things that we’re naturally good at and things that we’re not so good at.
[00:22:35] And if we all spend time to try and fix those things that are supposedly weaknesses, we all would end up being average at everything. And if instead we use that time to focus on our natural talents and invest in those talents so they become our super strengths, our superpowers. That’s when we can really shine. That’s what makes us different from other people, but we all can appreciate each other for their superpowers. Once I am confident in my strength, in my superpowers, then I also don’t feel jealous or threatened by anyone else in the business, for example, because I know what I’m worth. I know what I contribute.
[00:23:12] I know how I can sell myself, and explain to people, what I’m really good at, but I can also start to appreciate others. And I’m not scared that they might come in and take my role or outshine me. I can start to celebrate them for what they’re amazing at. And then together we can work and achieve the big thing.
[00:23:29] And the big project. And so I think it’s magic if teams actually allow themselves time to figure that out and then see, how can we all bring this together. You know, the person that always asks the questions and every time you to get out of the meeting already, but they still like, they have another question.
[00:23:45] And another question, you know, some other people might get annoyed by that. They might think, Oh my God, like, we’ve talked about this. It’s fine. Let’s just move on. But that person is so fascinated by detail. And that’s the person that will tell you when something is going to go wrong when you’ve missed something.
[00:24:02] So starting to see a person instead of for being so annoying, because they always ask the questions, to… I’m so glad they ask these questions because one day they’ll catch something that I missed.
[00:24:13]Mel or Dom: [00:24:13] I do love what you’ve just said. It’s actually blown my mind a little bit. I’ve had an epiphany, but a cognitive shift . I agree completely, particularly in regards too… I’ve worked in companies where you’ll have managers who are so worried about people taking their position, that the groups just stagnate so badly. Whereas if you get managers who, their whole philosophy is – if the people who are working for me, if I can lift them up, then I’m going to go up as well.
[00:24:44] So they just, the group’s flourish. You can say particularly in companies, the large companies where the large companies and you just watch different groups and the managers and their managerial styles. And you’ll have one part of the company that just continues to grow and develop. And another part that just stays the way they were a year after year.
[00:25:03] So it just goes to show that actually encouraging people is only going to benefit not only them, but it’s going to benefit you in the long run as well.
[00:25:12]Anne: [00:25:12] A hundred percent. And I think managers that do feel threatened. I think they have a lot of self doubt within them. And that’s the reason like that’s the fear again, like fear is a crazy motivator to do a lot of things that are not necessarily the best. And they may be doubt themselves.
[00:25:28] They might feel under pressure. They might not be sure how to deal with things. And that’s when they start to see other people as a threat. But if you work on yourself and you figure out. Your strengths, then you also are not scared that you will be found out for your weaknesses because you’re like, this is what I’m really good at.
[00:25:44] I’m not really good at that, but that’s why I have you guys here because you’re amazing at this. So I need you to help me
[00:25:50]Mel or Dom: [00:25:50] I love how you’ve actually, we’ve gone from diversity to unconscious bias, to growing super powers and all this journey will then lead us back to ensuring that we can get a diverse workforce.. If we focused on ourselves to improve the best part of ourselves, that will only mean great things for diversity in the workforce. I’m loving the journey that you’ve just taken us on there.
[00:26:16]Anne: [00:26:16] thank you.
[00:26:17]Mel or Dom: [00:26:17] so what are your thoughts on the future of engineering?
[00:26:19]Anne: [00:26:19] the future is bright. I think engineering is a very exciting, and even though I now, you know, moved away from it in the sense, I still am passionate about it, and I love working with the companies and empowering individuals and teams and organizations to flourish. I think, you know, engineering.. It’s vital to everyday life. There’s so many new challenges that we need solutions for some that we don’t even know yet that they exist. but of course, with regards to climate change environment, transportation, city growth, there’s so much potential there. Automation. I think it’s fascinating.
[00:26:52] And what I really think though, is that for that innovation, we need leadership and we need leadership that can inspire and that can foster creativity and give people the confidence to think out of the box. Leadership that inspires instead of putting people down, then we can create anything and engineering – there’s no limit, right? Anything is possible. That’s the beauty of it.
[00:27:16] Mel or Dom: [00:27:16] I think you’re the perfect example of the future of engineering insofar is it’s not that traditional engineering. So whilst you’ve moved into leadership and management, it’s still engineering. You’re still dealing with people and I think it’s that whole old mindset where people think about engineers, it’s just that stereotypical person on a site or a person in front of a drawing board. When in reality is it seems to be a career that can cover any aspect of where you want to go.
[00:27:43] Anne: [00:27:43] Hundred percent. I think that’s the beauty. So Whenever people think, Oh, where’s my journey going to take me, or should I do engineering or not? You know, that’s the thing where anything is possible. Just go for it and see where, where you end up, follow your gut feeling. There’s so many opportunities and so many different aspects. And I think at the start it can be daunting because it’s so hard to put into words what an engineer does, you know, bringing back to the start when I said I studied engineering, but I didn’t really know what engineers do. I think that’s why, because there’s so many things that engineers do.
[00:28:15] And it’s really hard to put it. Just some, one clear job description, but at the same time, that’s where all the opportunities lie, which is beautiful.
[00:28:23]Mel or Dom: [00:28:23] you’re just given some great advice to people just starting out in engineering. Is there anything you’d like to add to that?
[00:28:28]Anne: [00:28:28] I think in general, just try and find mentors along the way in your business and outside of your business. And look at finding sponsors, people who can talk about you when you might not be in the room, who can, you know, raise your profile and raise your visibility. Build your network. I think building network is so important because that will lead you to even more opportunities and you learn about different areas of engineering and you might get inspired and think, Oh, that sounds really cool.
[00:28:55] I want to try that out and don’t be afraid to just give it a go. Even if you don’t know that that’s what you want to do. Just give it a go for a few years and then you can move. Like, that’s the beauty as well. Right? You can start something, work in a certain industry, the skills are transferable.
[00:29:10] So you, then you go and move to a different industry. It will never get boring. It will always change. There’s so many opportunities. And if you love something great, stay there. If not move on and do something new and don’t be afraid to say yes, and you will figure it out.
[00:29:22]Mel or Dom: [00:29:22] I hope people take that advice. just to wrap up now, is there a piece of engineering that impresses you?
[00:29:31]Anne: [00:29:31] look, I think everything in transportation as we covered before. I love cars. I love planes. Like the A380 still blows my mind. I just think it’s. Fascinating. I love trains and trams. I still love my tram, I call it. The E-class tram that I worked on when I moved here. And that was my first, really big project where I had a massive responsibility.
[00:29:54] And I still love that when I see that running around in Melbourne. And I love pieces of engineering where you get to see people experiencing that every day. So, you know, when you were part of building a car or designing a car or a train or plane or a massive ship, you get to see people using that and stepping into that or sitting in it.
[00:30:14] And I think that’s what fascinates me.
[00:30:17] Mel or Dom: [00:30:17] You’re still such an engineer at heart, you are,
[00:30:20] Anne: [00:30:20] Yeah, totally.
[00:30:21] Mel or Dom: [00:30:21] Who’s an engineer that you admire?
[00:30:24]Anne: [00:30:24] Look, I don’t think I have this one engineer that I admire. I met a lot of really amazing engineers along the way. And what I think what I learned really quickly and what I’ve taken on board very quickly is for me, the most successful engineers are the ones that get the different perspectives and diverse perspectives.
[00:30:43] I’ve seen it in manufacturing, like the engineers that were very successful in my view were people who went to the shop floor to talk to the guys on the production line to start to understand. What their opinion is what they think can be done differently. Then start to talk to the client and talk to everybody in the business, get diverse perspectives and bring everything together and not just do their thing in silo.
[00:31:03] So I think a really good engineer doesn’t work in silo. It’s like a, you know, it’s an United problem solving approach.
[00:31:10]Mel or Dom: [00:31:10] I agree completely with that. And I know we’ve spoken about that on previous podcasts as well, just in regards to, particularly in Australia, there’s a bit of an us and them with the trades. and when generally the wealth of experience and knowledge that the trades have that. I think the engineers who were willing to spend time working out the problem with the people who were actually doing the installation and the manufacturing, it’s only gonna make thank you a more rounded engineer, and it’s only going to mean that your designs and Your systems are so much better and far more robust because they can actually translate to something that can be manufactured or can be installed properly.
[00:31:48] So it’s definitely a very important part of engineering.
[00:31:52] Anne: [00:31:52] Yeah, I think it’s important to understand it because even if you study engineering, you will never fully understand it. so as part of my it degree before I even started, I had to do seven weeks of hands on internship, where I was on the shop floor, like a workshop. And I had to do all the menu works of filing, welding, turning everything, and. I think that already gave me a big appreciation for how hard it actually is to do these things by hand and not the automated machines.
[00:32:17] Like I have to calculate everything and, you know, it was a lot of work and then things went wrong and then they made me start all over again and it took hours. So I think that appreciation is so important. And if you, even if you don’t get that in an internship, but just go out there to the people who manufacture and just understand how it’s actually done and what it takes to do a good product is.
[00:32:39] The most important foundation.
[00:32:40]Mel or Dom: [00:32:40] it’s not our usual ending, but
[00:32:43] thank you so much for joining us tonight. Thanks for that. That was wonderful.
[00:32:47] Anne: [00:32:47] thanks. My pleasure. Thanks for having me.
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, show notes and learn more about our podcast by visiting our website. www.engineeringheroes.com.au. If you’ve enjoyed today’s show, all we ask you to do is go and tell someone. Seriously, is that easy. Either tell them in person or write us a review.
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