Principal Gender Matters Pty Ltd
Chair Eighteen04 Inc.
Gunilla Burrowes is passionate about innovation and diversity. Her engineering career has taken her on parallel journeys of engineering entrepreneurship and advocacy as a role model and campaigner for gender equity, both in universities and in business, which lead to her establishing a gender consultancy Gender Matters in 2011.
Graduating from UNSW in Electrical Engineering, Gunilla began her career at BPSolar, an innovative scale-up of its day. For over a decade she worked as an academic, and in 2000 co-founded BlueZone Group. Gunilla has been an active member of the Hunter Innovation Ecosystem, taking on roles such as Founding Chair of Rights House Incorporated, an Angel Investing organisation; Founding Chair of Eighteen04 Inc., an Australian first inspirational co-working and incubator space in CleanTech and Smart City start-ups; and co-founder of Hunter iF, actively facilitating investment, jobs and growth in the Hunter.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
More than 20 years ago, I attended a Newcastle Division Electrical Branch meeting and have not looked back! That led to the Newcastle Division Committee, and then President in 2005. As a member of Congress, I was elected to the National Board as NVP Engineering Practice in 2008.
I have served on the Registration Board, the National and Newcastle Division College of Leadership and Management committees, the National and Newcastle Division Women in Engineering committees, and on the Australasian Association of Engineering Education Committee. I was Director of Engineers Media for 9 years, a wholly owned subsidiary of Engineers Australia.
Why did you become a volunteer?
Having moved to a new city, volunteering allowed me to connect with other professionals, find out what was happening in engineering locally and nationally, and gave me opportunities for professional development.
I am proud that in Australia we have a learned professional organisation that covers all branches of engineering. This enriches the social and political voice of our profession that I wanted to support.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
The best part is meeting amazing people and being able to celebrate their achievements. The fact that you get so much more than you give has continued to inspire me to stay actively involved.
The opportunities, support, advice, encouragement and knowledge that I have received, stems from the generosity that comes from those willing to give their time.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Instigating and leading the themed year 2007: Year of Women in Engineering for which we received the President’s Award that year.
Consciousness of women in engineering has been raised so much since 2007 but we still have a long way to go to create a gender-neutral profession.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
And, I think equally important to ask is, how has being a volunteer informed your career? Having spent parts of my career in industry and part in academia, I have had an unconventional career, but one that has utilised the best of both worlds together with a good dose of volunteering. I have applied knowledge and skills gained from across the sectors to bring innovation and diversity to the work that I do.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
This is always a challenge, but I think that all we can do is to encourage more volunteers to step forward and share the load.
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
Don’t just think about it, do it! Carl Jung said, “You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
Image: courtesy of Dr Gunilla Burrowes