Name: Lidija Dumbaloska
Position: Professional Head of Electrical Engineering
Company: Sydney Trains
What do you enjoy the most, working in the field of construction & development?
In my current role as Professional Head of Electrical Engineering with Sydney Trains – the first woman to be appointed a Professional Head in this organisation – I oversee a team of 75 engineering experts who provide advice on all matters relating to the design, construction, maintenance and enhancement of the railway’s electrical asset portfolio.
I am passionate about fostering a diverse and performance-driven culture to develop the innovative engineering solutions we need to address the challenges of maintaining our electrical network – a network which powers a huge train fleet to deliver 1.3 million passenger journeys per day.
I really enjoy working with a team of high performers to come up with solutions to the many technical challenges of the complex projects, programs and portfolios in the rail environment. I’ve always loved problem-solving.
Where do you see your life in the next 5 years, what possibilities are ahead of you?
I would like to make a positive contribution that has a lasting impact. I’m keen to exploit new technologies to improve the performance of our electrical network which has a direct impact on network capacity (or how many trains we can run on the network) and energy consumption. I’m also interested in further professional development – my own and supporting the development of my team.
If you could write a letter to a 13-year-old ‘you’ what would you say?
My advice to my 13-year old self would be “keep learning, invest in yourself, and be brave” – lifelong learning is important whether it’s formal education or gaining a broad range of experience. And never be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. Take any opportunities that are offered to you.
What are 3 skills you have had to develop to get to where you are presently?
Over my 20 year career to date, working within a team and staying on top of a project was the first skill I had to develop. When I became a technical leader, my priority naturally shifted to leading and mentoring a team of different personalities and capabilities – moving from doing the work to managing others doing the work is always a challenge.
In management, I also had to become comfortable in challenging the status quo and taking calculated risks – important for decision making and building your confidence. Reaching out to and collaborating with other organisations across the industry to share knowledge in electrical engineering was also something I had to learn in more senior roles.
For me personally, the most nerve-wracking challenge of management roles was having to develop the skill of public speaking. The only way to overcome the nerves is to do it as often as you can – you need to do it regularly and ask for feedback to become a better speaker.
I’ve now been a key-note speaker for a number of events, including TFNSW International Women’s Day 2020 event, an International Women in Engineering Day event, and the Miss CEO conference.