Jo Dawson

FIEAust CPEng EngExec NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)

Director: Defence and Security ACT

SYSTRA Scott Lister

Jo Dawson is the ACT Director for SYSTRA Scott Lister, with twenty years of experience in technical and commercial program and project management, safety and risk management, system and safety engineering, and consultancy. Jo studied a Master of Systems Engineering in the UK, and was lucky to be sponsored by British Aerospace. She subsequently worked for Altran and QinetiQ, prior to moving to Australia in 2011, where she initially worked for NSW Government Rail before moving back to Defence in ACT.

Jo is a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Australia, and was recently recognised as an EngExec. She has worked closely with Engineers Australia to improve access to professional development and mentoring, and help engineers in the Team Downer Major Service Provider for Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group in the Department of Defence gain Chartership.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
Since 2011 – I was previously a Chartered Engineer and held European engineer registration with Institute of Engineering and Technology in the UK.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
I did well in maths and enjoyed practical challenges – and I think because engineering was something girls didn’t do I saw it as a challenge.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Having worked in many sectors, the current work I am doing supporting the Department of Defence is helping to deliver defence capability for our armed forces. The technology we support helps develop advances in humanitarian and natural disaster work, as well as improvements to utilities and transportation for the general public.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
The Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier Program for the UK. I was very early on in my career during this program and had the privilege of supporting the Mission Systems and Ship Air Integration design and analysis.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
Getting people to join the profession and providing development opportunities to gain work experience on major projects to be our future engineering innovators and chief engineers. We need to support diverse ways of working to help working parents and carers remain in the workforce at least part-time, and create diverse teams to approach problem solving with innovation. We need to make it easy for people to remain motivated and passionate about making a difference through engineering.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
The speed of technology advancement and the application of ‘big data’ to identify efficiencies in the design, optimisation, operation, and maintenance of systems.

Who is your engineering hero?
Isambard Kingdom Brunel. His designs revolutionised public transport and modern engineering.

Images: courtesy of Jo Dawson