Florentina Mihai

MIEAust

Manager Route Planning

Main Roads Western Australia

Florentina Mihai has over 30 years’ experience as a road and rail engineer and manager. She holds a bachelor and master’s degree in Transportation Technology and Railway Tele-Switches and post graduate diplomas in both Business Management and Construction and Contract Law. Florentina was the Australian representative to PIARC Asset Management Group until 2020. She actively contributed to the development of asset management best practice in Australia and overseas by co-authoring several asset management guidelines as well as 12 Austroads Reports, 16 papers and presentations at forums at home and abroad.

Some of her professional achievements in Australia include the implementation of a Maintenance Management Information System for Main Roads WA, utilised by over 300 people; the procurement and implementation of a $7m Longitudinal linemarking contract, performance and relationship based, which was a first in WA; the management of an $11 m contract for the Collection of pavement condition data, resulting in improved national specifications for data collection and auditing; and co-authoring several Austroads reports.

Currently she leads the Route and network planning team at Main Roads WA with a focus on identifying WA’s rural roads investment needs and priorities.

How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Engineers Australia’s membership was very important for me as it provided additional professional recognition of my European education, degree and experience. A few years after I settled in a professional job, I felt that I needed to give back to the organisation that helped me at the very beginning and so I joined the then Transport Panel over 15 years ago. Currently I am the Chair of the Transport Australia Society (TAs) WA branch.

Why did you become a volunteer?
Volunteering was and continues to be a great, fun and fulfilling way to connect with likeminded professionals. It provides an excellent opportunity to keep informed about emerging transportation issues and to make a positive impact by contributing to the shaping of transportation policy.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
I’ve most enjoyed enriching my professional skills by interacting with some of the best engineers in Australia and overseas on a diverse range of transportation matters. I value the ability to share my views and the consequent feeling of being connected to the wider transportation profession.

What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I measure achievement in terms of the contribution that the Transport Australia Society makes towards addressing transportation issues and the value it provides to its members. In most cases, such achievements are a result of the work of both the state and national committees.

At the state level, some memorable events include: a Career Planning Day organised for graduates from Main Roads WA, Department of Transport and Public Transport Authority; several international speakers presenting on the Road Safety System Approach, at the time when the concept was just to be introduced in Australia; and more recently, interesting presentations on Australia’s autonomous vehicles governance framework and WA Regional Airports Strategy.

Florentina Mihai headshot

I’m proud of the work undertaken by the national TAs committee resulting in several advocacy papers to which I was a contributor: Autonomous Vehicles Discussion Paper; Active Transport; Mobility as a Service.

How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
My volunteering work expanded my professional network and knowledge of various transportation issues. It enabled better and more meaningful communication with various industry stakeholders as well as an improved understanding of their needs; for example in terms of freight access, which in turn can translate to facilitating more targeted transport policies and strategies.

How do you balance work and volunteering?
This is indeed a fine balance as it extends to my personal life, which includes being the sole carer for my mother, full-time work and volunteering. Sometimes it is challenging, but somehow it all works, because each aspect offers different rewards. I think the key is to do things out of love and passion, to live purposely.

What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
It is rewarding work; you will make new friends, learn interesting things and become part of a community of likeminded people.

Image: courtesy of Florentina Mihai