Catherine Colman

FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Associate Director

KPMG

Catherine Colman is an Associate Director in KPMG’s Engineering and Asset Management advisory practice in Canberra.
She has worked in consulting for almost three years. Prior to this, Catherine had a variety of management and engineering roles in the Australian Public Service. Her background and qualifications are in software engineering and software development. Catherine’s specialisation today is more around engineering management, which brings together many, very broad skills she has learned throughout her career.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I have been a member of Engineers Australia since I was a student at University.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
I stumbled across engineering as a career when I was looking at University courses at the end of high school. Software development was something I enjoyed as part of computing studies at high school. I liked both the logic and creativity of the design and development process and wanted to do more so enrolled in software engineering at university. I don’t think I really understood what the “engineering” part of the course title was about until I got into my studies.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Consultants work on a wide variety of different challenges facing our clients, which often brings together many cross-discipline skills, including engineering.

We help our clients deliver services to the community or improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes and data; this can mean bringing innovative thinking and technology to help solve a problem. This ultimately improves the sustainability and safety of systems and infrastructure.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
One of the most interesting experiences of my career was participating in technical working groups with international counterparts. It was fascinating to understand how different cultures think and behave. In Australia we’re used to democratic, majority-based decision making. In many of these working groups is was necessary to achieve consensus which was much harder.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
I think the issues we see in engineering are a reflection of those we find in society, but I don’t like to think of them as issues but opportunities for innovation and creativity. One I feel strongly about is growing our future workforce and encouraging more young men and women into science and engineering professions.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I am always excited to learn new and interesting things and the future of the engineering profession is going to be rich with new technology and innovations that is only just emerging now. What I am looking forward to most is seeing how our society adapts and the nature of work changes over time.

Who is your engineering hero?
I found Margaret Hamilton to be an inspiration during my studies and early career. Today, most of my engineering heroes are colleagues who have done amazing things, big and small, during their careers.

Image: courtesy of Catherine Colman