Deputy Director (Innovation) Maritime Lifecycle Support
Department of Defence
Don graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 2009. Since then, he has worked in various engineering roles across Defence and the Defence industry. In 2017, Don established the Navy’s Centre for Innovation and developed a roadmap for Maritime Additive Manufacturing. He led a number of Australian-firsts, including 3D Printers deployed in maritime operational environments. He is passionate about sharing ideas, and speaks regularly at forums and conferences. He has two master’s degrees in engineering from UNSW.
Don believes deeply that engineers are uniquely skilled to solve the problems of the future, and must boldly step forward into leadership roles.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I first volunteered to join the Sydney branch committee of the Mechanical College in 2015, following a presentation at the EA Harricks auditorium. I’m also an elected member of the Sydney Division committee.
Why did you become a volunteer?
I was curious to try something new and build a broader professional network. At the time I didn’t know what volunteering entailed or what I might derive from it. I’d encourage others to do the same and see where it takes them.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
I love being part of the EA Community and being in regular contact with some very accomplished and senior engineers. I believe engineers shouldn’t underestimate the value of being connected, sharing ideas, and both mentoring and being mentored.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Connecting people with ideas is one of my passions, therefore any time I’ve been involved with organising an evening presentation has been fantastic. It’s a simple way you can help energise the profession and connect minds. I also enjoyed co-creating the EA Innovation Network.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
Stakeholder management and systems-thinking are critical to my work as a Defence engineer and that has informed how I go about my volunteer activities. Communication, connecting with peers, and big-picture thinking are important in distinguishing yourself as an engineer.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
I’m fortunate to have an employer and a manager who support flexible working hours. EA meetings are planned well in advance. Therefore, it’s very rare that I would have to decline an EA meeting for work. Travelling by motorcycle also saves a lot of commuting time in Sydney.
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
Be honest with yourself about what you can manage in terms of hours and responsibility, and what you can offer in terms of your unique skills, experience and personality. Then just go for it!