Steph

National Decarbonisation & Energy Transition Senior Manager
Energy, Mining and Property

What type of industry do you work in?

Working in the Big Four Corporates in Energy Transition and Decarbonisation

What is your current position /role?

Australia’s ESG Growth Lead for Energy and Utilities, Mining and Materials, Property, Construction and Logistics

Are you able to provide information about your qualifications, this helps others seeking information about careers in your industry.

I changed degrees three times and failed multiple subjects – I am not saying ‘do this!’, but I think it’s an important part of my education journey. My most difficult subject that I needed to pass was Chemistry. In high school I studied very hard to get the grade in Chemistry I needed, and I had to study Chemistry each semester at Uni for two years. I failed my Chemistry exam each semester each year and had to sit supplementary exams four times (which I thankfully passed)! I tell this story because my PhD project was in plasma chemistry and wet chemistry and was used to develop my novel anti-microbial surface coatings! I completed a double Bachelor’s degree at Flinders University in Medical Science and Business and Technology. I then completed an Honour’s Degree in Bio and Nanomaterials at the University of South Australia (UniSA) with a thesis investigating chlorinated surface coatings for use in air and water filtration systems. I finished top of my class with First Class Honours which allowed me to successfully get an APA Scholarship for my PhD at UniSA. Over four years I completed a PhD in Biomaterials, Engineering and Nanomedicine where my thesis was investigating antifungal surface coatings for use in biomedical devices. Last year I was offered an Adjunct position with UniSA because of my work bridging the gap between Academia and Corporate for girls and women in STEM.

What did you want to be or do when you left school. How does this compare with where you are now?

For as long as I can remember I wanted to be a veterinarian and work with animals. I got my first cat for my third birthday – Minnie, who would be my first best friend for the next 18 years. When I was 12, I got my second-best friend – Kimmy, who was my best friend for another 17 years. I rescued a bearded dragon (Godzilla), a rainbow lorikeet (Hamish) and a cat (Lucy). I worked really hard through high school with the sole goal of studying Veterinary Science and becoming a Vet. My first semester in Veterinary Science I realised it was not for me – this was devastating! I had wanted to be a Vet and work with animals for as long as I could remember. I then changed to a double degree in Teaching and Science, which also wasn’t for me. I decided to leave Uni for a semester and work full-time at Officeworks and travel. I then went back to Uni where I studied Medical Science, followed by an Undergraduate degree in Business and Technology. I would never have thought I’d end up with 4 degrees across medical science and research including a PhD, have worked for two Big Four consulting Firms, and now be Australia’s ESG Growth Lead in Energy, Mining and Property – definitely not the subject of my PhD!!

What are some of the coolest things you like about working in your industry?

There are so many cool things about working in decarbonisation and energy transition – the recent global commitment under the Paris Agreement has accelerated global action towards achieving 2030 and 2050 net zero emissions targets. Working for a Big Four has given me so many different opportunities to learn and grow – which is a really cool part of my job! In my current role I am a part of a targeted team that’s developing a new national service offering to support our clients along their decarbonisation journey. I’m getting to be a part of developing a completely new service offering and solutions for a global Big Four Consulting Firm to address the most pressing and important global issue of reducing global carbon emissions to protect our people and planet. Even cooler – this is a global role which means I get to travel and work with other global member Firms, ensuring the Australian Firm is represented on a global scale.

What do you enjoy most about the work you do?

My favourite thing about my role is how diverse it is, and that it continually gives me exceptional opportunities for growth, including study opportunities, personal and professional development. I have a PhD in Biomaterials, Engineering and Nanomedicine and initially found it very difficult to communicate the value of the skills acquired throughout my Honours and PhD research positions into a Corporate world. I am so grateful to be a part of a workplace that not only recognises the value of my skills, but also the huge translation of these skills across all industries and roles, including client-facing and non-client facing positions. I have been with KPMG for three years now and have held a different role each year. I began working as a national Senior Advisor in R&D Tax and Grants, with a focus on the life-sciences industry. I then transitioned into a completely different internal role of Account Manager for SA Government and Energy and Natural Resources where I managed and drove the growth of 9 different sector accounts across KPMG including Health, Education, Transport and Infrastructure, National Security and Justice, local government, Energy and Utilities, Oil and Gas, and Mining. I then transitioned into my current role as Australia’s ESG Growth Lead for Energy and Utilities, Mining and Materials, and Property, Construction and Logistics. As this is a national role, I am able to work anywhere from my laptop across Australia, including internationally at global member Firms. I love the variety, flexibility and constant challenge of my work – no two days are the same!

What strategies have you used that have helped you transition to working in a non-traditional industry?

I found the move out of Academia into Corporate incredibly difficult – it is not that common to make the move across, and it was very difficult to communicate the value of my PhD and Honour’s research skillset. Even the CV needed is different! I was so lucky to have a supportive industry mentor through the IMNIS program who helped me write my CV and learn how to effectively communicate the skills I had acquired throughout my research degrees, and how easily these could be translated into Corporate, and were not academic or industry specific. I started as a Graduate with Deloitte and then worked my way up and across to KPMG. I continued to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that came my way and worked hard to build up my reputation, networks and skill set across the Firm.

How did you get started in your career pathway and what helped you along your career journey?

Throughout my PhD I began to realise that Academia wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t sure what that meant. I began to join professional societies, volunteering opportunities and started the first Women in STEM Club for UniSA with a group of brilliant, like-minded women in STEM. I was a part of the Golden Key Society, UniSA mentoring club, the Australian Society for Microbiology (ASM) and the Australasian Society for Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering (ASBTE). I began running a booth at Science Alive! each year where we taught kids all about the wonderful world of Science and Microbiology, as well as mentoring high-school girls on careers in STEM and study pathways. I started to realise I enjoyed these activities outside of my PhD far more than I was enjoying what I was doing in my PhD. I felt like I had plateaued and had stopped learning and could not picture myself having a career in Academia. I attended a UniSA Careers expo where I got to hear all about the Big Four consulting Firms, and for the first time I was incredibly excited and interested by the career pathways they were offering. I applied for a Graduate role at KPMG and Deloitte and started with Deloitte in my Graduate role just 3 days after submitting my PhD thesis. This was the start of my career journey.

What or who has influenced your career pathway?

I have been so lucky with the mentors that have supported me throughout my career and personal journey – and most of these have been strong, caring women. When I was finishing my undergraduate degree, I had my first significant mentor support me to undertake a second undergraduate degree. As a part of my second degree, I had the opportunity to take part in a placement which she helped me to organise. This placement would completely change my path – I published my first article, and this work led into my Honour’s and finally PhD research. I was lucky enough to have multiple mentors throughout my PhD, all of which I am still in contact with. Even within my various roles at KPMG I have had the most amazing mentors who are the reason I am where I am today, and I will forever be grateful to them. This is also why I am extremely passionate about mentoring and paying it forward – I know the difference they made in my life.

In school what subjects did you enjoy most or were good at?

My favourite subjects were English, Biology, History and Music. I began learning the saxophone in Year 5 and continued to learn practical and theory throughout high school. I was a part of every school band including a saxophone quartet. I was fortunate enough to be given a scholarship through high school, and my musical abilities were a significant contributor to this. My other favourite subject by far was Biology – I absolutely loved all things Science and still do!

What advice would you give to others (girls/women) about following careers in non-traditional industries?

I would urge them to go to any networking events, seminars, career events etc that are available to them – and seek them out! It is crucial to drive your own career and growth – no one is going to do it for you! Find yourself as many mentors as you can, build up your LinkedIn profile, and be willing to say ‘yes’ and work hard for what you want – you are so much stronger and braver than you might feel – you can do this!!

And lastly, we’d love if you could share how, you are making your own mark?

I am extremely passionate about driving opportunities for all girls and women, identifying the clear need to create societal, systemic change for future generations, instituting environments that support women throughout all stages of their lives and careers. I am the Chair of KPMG’s Corporate Citizenship Committee for South Australia, am the KPMG relationship manager for HerTechPath and the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN). As a part of the ABCN relationship, myself and a group of volunteers at KPMG mentor students from low socio-economic schools from around SA throughout the year. Every year I run a booth at Science Alive! – the largest science fair in the southern hemisphere, visited by 25,000 people each year. As a part of this event I help to organise the other booth holders, and present at the Girls in STEM careers night. I was announced one of South Australia’s prestigious ‘40 Under 40’ winners for 2022 and awarded the Game Changer Award for ‘recognition of a person who has re-written the rules of business to challenge, inspire and spark significant change’ for her work in supporting girls and women in STEMM, and bridging the gap between Academia and Corporate. I was recently offered just 1 of 300 spots from applicants over 35 countries to attend the prestigious Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Study Conference in Canada for 2023. This global development program chooses 300 of the world’s most promising emerging leaders each year to undergo an all-inclusive leadership, networking & personal development opportunity of a lifetime in Canada! I was also recently accepted for a two-week volunteering program in the Galapagos Islands working in conservation of sea turtles, aligning with the United Nation’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s). I plan to continue to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that I find, as I truly believe each one provides me with not only professional development, but also personal development, and the chance to really make a positive change in the world.

 

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