FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)
Jane MacMaster has qualifications in engineering, international relations and training and assessment. She runs Ponder Enterprises, an organisation that works across all sectors to build complex problem-solving capabilities and to help design strategies to achieve outcomes for complex real-world challenges. She designed an approach for complex problem solving after recognising a growing need for these skills and an absence of a practical model for teaching and ‘doing’ it. The approach brings together the rigour of aerospace system design together with insights from complexity science for coping with the uncertainty inherent in complex challenges.
Before founding Ponder, Jane worked as a senior adviser at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, as an aerospace design engineer, and as a management consultant.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Why did you become a volunteer?
For the first fifteen years of my career, I was working in an engineering context, surrounded by engineers. It wasn’t until later when I had spent some time working with people with non-engineering backgrounds that I realised and appreciated the ways engineers think, design, and problem-solve. The engineering profession has been great for me, and it was time to give something back.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
The best things about being a volunteer for me are meeting many interesting people, expanding my networks, and being involved in fun and/or fascinating activities, ranging from accreditation visits to universities through to being a judge for the Engineers Australia Engineering Games – a fun design and build competition for school students.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
Probably being accepted for my first Board position (on the Engineers Australia Accreditation Board). It’s also been very rewarding participating in STEM events for school students, organising continuing professional development events for our members through the Mechanical College Canberra Committee, which I chair, and the Women in Engineering Committee, of which I’m a member.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
For me, being a design and systems engineer taught me incredibly valuable thinking, design, and problem-solving skills. I believe the role of, and need for, the engineering mindset and skillset in society will continue to grow in the future, and so my work as a volunteer I hope contributes to fostering this in some way.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
When I have the time, I contribute as much as I can, and during very busy times I scale back a bit – it ebbs and flows. Planning ahead helps a lot too.
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
I’d say give it a go – get in touch with EA to find out what the volunteering opportunities are. It’s fun and rewarding, and flexible – you can volunteer a lot or a little.
Image: courtesy of Jane MacMaster.