What did you want to be or do when you left school. How does this compare with where you are now?
I was the type of kid that had several dream occupations over the years — from a nurse, to a teacher, fashion designer, lawyer…. Name it, I’ve probably had dreamt of being it. But at the end of year 12, I have realised that where my interests met eye-to-eye was engineering. I jokingly say that “I like building things but I like ordering people to build it for me even more”— but jokes aside, I had a passion for creativity, innovation, and management. Additionally, creating things for people to have a better quality of life. What better way to express this than engineering?
In school what subjects did you enjoy most or were good at?
Surprisingly, I hated maths at school even though I had a great performance mark. I loved humanities and social sciences! I guess I just really liked the social aspect and subjectivity that they offered. I was definitely not the stereotype “i want to be an engineer” student at school.
Were you familiar with the industry before you started working in it?
What are some of the coolest things you like about working in your industry?
The limits… and here’s the answer—there’s NONE. I think the coolest thing about working in the engineering/construction industry is knowing that the sky’s the limit. You can innovate, create, and build anything you set your mind to for the betterment of the community. Building roads enables the transportation of the public, building homes provides shelter for the community, and so on. It’s about creating a vision that enables others to have a better quality of life. And that’s priceless.
What do you enjoy most about the work you do?
First is definitely the variety of cool things you can do/build! I currently work for a company that does tunneling and I think it’s amazing on how it is done. It is unbelievable how far we’ve come in terms of innovation and technology. Witnessing these marvellous creations at work is one of the highlights of being an engineer. Secondly, the interpersonal connections. You deal with a lot of people throughout your engineering career, regardless of how introvert a stereotypical engineer is perceived as. It is so rewarding just getting to communicate ideas and inspire others through your work and relationships with them. It’s amazing how far can a little conversation go. People management and effective communication are definitely a vital skill to have, and not all people have it. Lastly, as I mentioned earlier, the absence of limits. The ability to freely innovate and create is a priceless experience to have. Having a positive impact to the society is one of the best things you can do as an engineer and a person.
What successful strategies have you used that have helped you transition to working in a non-traditional industry?
Having a mindset that is thirsty for excellence, loves oneself, and one that is limitless has been the root of my successful strategies. Without a healthy and motivated mindset, life would be like trying to get a car running without fuel. If you have the right mindset and you align your values and vision into it, you’ll never even notice how rapidly you transition and grow as an individual. It is the most basic (yet the most neglected) thing you can do during the career transition stage. You can never do something great if your mind is not equipped to do it.
How did you get started in your career pathway and what helped you along your career journey?
It all happened so fast; I had no clue on what specifically triggered it. But what I do know is that I had a hunger for excellence whilst I was at uni and I just gradually transitioned that to my early career stage. Actions of excellence are transferrable — they’re not limited to one aspect in life. Since I wanted to excel in the next phase of my life, I made sure that I motivated myself. Because at the end of the day, you have YOURSELF. It’s only you who can navigate the journey that is your life. And I know every journey has its hiccups, I had heaps. But what helped me along my journey is love. Love from family, friends, my partner (Tony), and love for myself and engineering. Love induces creation, so I made sure it was ever present.
What or who has influenced your career pathway?
The old version of Heimy. I was almost always filled with regret—wishing I did things the other way, wishing I have shown leadership and control, wishing that I was a better version of myself. Although I am thankful for my old self, I use it as a life lesson. I didn’t want to be filled with regret at the end of my days. I didn’t want to look back and say “I wish” instead of “I did”. That fear of missing out and mediocrity has given me the courage to strive for a life of excellence and inspiration.
What did you study?
I have currently graduated First Class Honours at Western Sydney University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering. I have also had 2 internships while studying, now at my full-time job.
What advice would you give to others (girls/women) about following careers in non-traditional industries?
Don’t be a statistic. Though it has been great that corporate policies and legislations have paved the way for equality, sole reliance on them won’t break the bias. Don’t be at a place only because they want to fulfil a quota, be there because you deserve it, because you’ve earned it. It’s not about the superiority of females in comparison to males, it’s about the equality of both. Perceive of it as a team effort rather than a battle between two — then as we build each other up, we break the stigma and push the limits.
And lastly, we’d love if you could share how you are making your own mark?
I am making my own mark in the industry by practising what I am preach/walking the talk. I do not only set as an example by excelling in a male-dominated industry, but I also share my knowledge and experience for the next generation to be inspired to break boundaries. I have been to some schools here in Australia wherein I have shared the power of believing in yourself — regardless of your gender, age, nationality, and societal labels. Being good at what you do is one thing, but sharing this gift is a whole other thing.