James Baker

MIEAust

James Baker studied a Batchelor of Civil Engineering at the University of Tasmania. James’ first job out of university was working for an international oilfield services provider in Brazil. From there he moved several times to Perth, regional Queensland and Brisbane, plus many short-term engagements in Australia, Asia and the United States.

James moved back to Tasmania in 2016 and has been working in project management across the resources, water, civil construction and public works sectors. He recently completed an MBA degree, and is now providing strategic planning services to local government and private businesses.

How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I have been volunteering on the Tasmanian state division committee for 2 and a half years. I also volunteered on the YEA committee during university for 2 years.

Why did you become a volunteer?
EA is the voice of the profession, advocating for all engineers. I saw volunteering on the EA committee as the best way that I could give back to our local engineering community.

What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
After the knowledge that I am making a positive contribution to the engineering profession, being a volunteer is a great opportunity to mix with other engineers who I would not normally work with, and to gain insights into other areas of engineering.

What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Getting the Young Engineers Australia Tasmania chapter running again after several years of dormancy was the highlight for me. As the mentor to our group of capable committee members, it was great to see them all stepping up and demonstrating outstanding leadership.

How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
I have been fortunate that throughout my career I have worked in field engineering, project management, operations management, technical design, sales, business development, and strategy. I feel that this has given me a greater appreciation for all the support that I have received through my ongoing development, and therefore a desire to support others in their own journey.

How do you balance work and volunteering?
We have a great support team in the Hobart EA office. They remind us regularly that the volunteers’ job is to provide the strategic direction, and they are there to make it happen. Without them it would be much more difficult – a big thanks to our local EA staff!

What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
If they are worried that they don’t have enough experience, I would say that EA needs students and graduate engineers as much as seasoned veterans. If they are concerned about the time commitment, there are dedicated support staff to help with that. EA needs your unique perspectives and it doesn’t need to be a huge time commitment.

Image: courtesy of James Baker