Helen Edmonds

FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER

Manager, Strategic Asset Management

SA Water

Helen Edmonds is the Manager of Strategic Asset Management with SA Water and responsible for portfolio management, implementing an ISO55000 aligned asset management system and driving research and innovation in this specialist area. She is also setting the future direction for smart management of assets and moving to predictive analytics, machine learning and use of AI to support asset planning decisions and improving outcomes for customers.

Helen has previously worked as a consultant to and for utilities in the water, electricity distribution and the oil and gas industries in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I have been a member of Engineers Australia since moving to Australia in 2012.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
At school I loved maths and physics with an interest in environmental and social issues, which made Civil Engineering with a focus on water the perfect fit.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Water is essential to how our communities’ function. Without safe, reliable high-quality water and sanitation services people cannot thrive. As populations increase and we start to see more climate change impacts, ensuring these services keep pace with change and continue to be efficiently delivered is critical.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
Developing and implementing Adelaide’s central business district Smart Water Network. From inception through delivery to the present my team are involved in ensuring it delivers benefits for customers and the wider community. The project was a big change for the business in addressing customer issues, utilising proven and new technologies plus it was delivered in a short time-frame by an integrated team.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
Climate change is real and we are seeing the impacts of it around the world. Engineers, working collectively with others, have the core skills and so a responsibility to develop solutions to help people around the world adapt to and mitigate impacts on every aspect of our lives.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I think the convergence we are seeing between engineering disciplines is really exciting.  Increasingly engineers from different disciplines have to work with scientists, technologists, and people from the arts to deliver benefits for people, communities and the environment. Though embracing and encouraging this diversity we can innovate, accelerate change and make a difference.

Who is your engineering hero?
Growing up in the United Kingdom I was impressed by all the great engineers such as Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford, yet my heroes are James Newlands and Sir Joseph William Bazalgette – the civil engineers responsible for the first sewer systems in Liverpool and London respectively.


Image: courtesy of Helen Edmonds