Welcome to Season 5 Episode 6
Water with Sue Murphy
Sue Murphy is a highly regarded engineer who has worked in the industry for nearly 4 decades. She spoke to Engineering Heroes about the importance of water management, which is a key priority in WA, and how the key to any successful engineering project is communication and co-operation with the community and all stakeholders.
Sue says she studied engineering largely to annoy her parents! While her dad was an engineer, her parents wanted her to do medicine. In fact everyone expected her to do medicine, even her teachers and friends at school. She even went so far as applying to uni’s for medicine, but realised that she wasn’t even mildly interested in the field. So after a bit of searching around she landed on engineering, with a focus on construction and eventually water.
When you live in Western Australia, water is always a challenge for engineers and for the community
International Women’s Day
Sue has been at the forefront of the changes in women in engineering. She spoke about times in the early days when there just weren’t facilities on site for women, but that never seemed to stop or slow her down.
She now looks back on her career and initially feels nothing has happened, but as she reflects on the changes, she reallises that so much has changed.
there’s gotta be a time where people assume that gender is irrelevant in any role you do.
Extra discussions during the episode
Future: There are no shortage of challenges for engineers to tackle. But the key to the solution is ensuring diversity in the industry.
What we’ve got to do is understand that we need whole people…..that’s where diversity comes into play, because if you’ve got a whole lot of the different people, they’re bringing different thinking to things.
Advice: She believes the new engineers are extremely lucky.
I’m really relying on the next crop of engineers coming through to have all the brilliant ideas so that in my dotage, I can have a very comfortable life.
It’s a fabulous engineering feat. And a great example of perseverance over logic….. it’s a good and a bad example, because it’s an example of what happens when you don’t engage, when you don’t share your views.
… was a wonderful man with a wonderful leadership style that trusted people.
you can always go back later in life and learn a language or learn art, but you’re never going to go back later in life and do calculus.
About Sue Murphy
Sue graduated as a Civil Engineer from the University of Western Australia in 1979. After winning a Clough Scholarship as an undergraduate, she joined Clough Engineering in 1980 commencing what would be a 25 year career in that organisation. Twelve years in the field as a site engineer and project manager led to corporate roles with a focus on engineering design management, human resources and safety and her appointment in 1998 as the first woman on the board of Clough Engineering Ltd.
In 2004 Sue joined the Water Corporation of WA and was appointed Chief Executive Officer in 2008. Sue is recognized internationally for her leadership of the Corporation’s adaptation of water supply in the face of climate change. This includes the delivery of two large scale desalination plants, Australia’s first large scale indirect potable recycling scheme and award winning programmes of customer engagement to reduce per capita water demand while maintaining Perth’s enviable liveability.
In each year from 2009 – 2016, Sue was listed in the top 100 most influential engineers in Australia by Engineers Australia. In 2013 Sue was honoured with the prestigious Sir John Holland Civil Engineer of the Year Award by the Board of the College of Civil Engineers of Engineers Australia. Sue was also elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.
In 2014 Sue was presented with the IWA’s “International” Women in Water Award and in 2018 Sue was ranked number 8 in the prestigious Water and Wastewater International magazine for the top 25 Water Leaders and was named as the 2018/19 WA Business Leader of the Year at the AIM WA Pinnacle Awards.
Sue was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) at the 2019 Queens Birthday Honours List.
Sue is now a nonexecutive director on a number of listed and not for profit Boards including Monadelphous Ltd, UWA, WA Treasury Corporation and the Fremantle Dockers AFL Club.
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About Engineering Heroes
We interview engineers as they discuss their life and the issues they are dealing with.