Name: Jo Withford
Position: Project Engineer/Contract Manager
Company: Roads and Maritime Services, Newcastle
What do you enjoy the most, working in the field of construction & development?
I have always been passionate about being a civil engineer because I love the fact that as an engineer, we are changing people’s lives. Every construction project that I have managed or been involved in is creating an improved environment for our community – whether it is the construction of a major road project or the installation of a pedestrian refuge to allow the community to safety cross the road. Although at times it is very challenging, I also love communicating with and dealing with the members of our community to ensure that what we are constructing does not adversely affect them in the long term.
What do you see life in the next 5 years, what possibilities are ahead of you?
In the next 5 years I still see myself managing the development and construction of road infrastructure projects because I find project work to be very challenging and rewarding. Through my primary school program “Workin’ Boots – Engineering for Kids” I hope to reach more students in year 4, 5 and 6 to inform them and educate them about the role of an engineer and why STEM is a great career option, so that we can increase the number of female engineers. I also plan to continue to support and encourage my husband in his engineering career as well as my 3 daughters in their individual endeavours.
If you could write a letter to a 13-year-old ‘you’ what would you say?
Try not to worry so much about what people think of you. The girls that are bullying you at the moment will regret their actions and it will make you a stronger and more determined person. Next week they will move onto someone else. Always be true to yourself, be authentic, try your hardest at everything you do and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Thing will always work out and even when you go through challenging times, you will have different resources to work through the problem at hand. Be kind, thoughtful, and compassionate and treat everyone with respect. Always go with your gut feeling and do what feels right for you. Be present, really listen to people and maintain good eye contact. Eat clean and healthy foods, enjoy making foods from scratch rather than buying packet foods, exercise and look after your temple as you only have one body. Be bold and brave and love yourself. Surround yourself with positive, like-minded people and travel the world. Always be financially independent and do what you feel passionate about. Know that you can do anything that you put your mind to and give back to the community. You are amazing.
What are 3 skills you have had to develop to get to where you are presently?
- Perseverance: Being a female working in an area of poor gender balance certainly has its challenges. I have learnt never to give up and always act in an honest and respectful manner despite difficulties or opposition. I love the saying “No Pain, no Gain”.
- Communication Skills: Good communication skills are vital in my position as I am dealing with the community on a regular basis. I have learnt to have confidence in my own ability, always tell the truth, be authentic, compassionate but firm and don’t commit to something that I cannot deliver.
- Resilience: I have certainly learnt how to bounce back and how to adapt to a changed situation. I have worked hard to develop my emotional intelligence, as well as controlling my own destiny.