WA Sustainable Engineering Society
Michelle North (nee de Souza) is a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) with over 18 years’ experience in the public and private sector. Her skill set includes environmental impact assessment and management; mine closure planning; management systems (health, safety, environment and quality); community consultation; and project and contract management.
Michelle is a Board member of the Environmental College, the Chair of the WA Sustainable Engineering Society (SENG) and a committee member of the National SENG Board. She is currently the Senior Environment Officer for Main Roads WA’s Great Southern Region, providing strategic environmental advice and approvals to deliver key infrastructure projects.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I’ve been volunteering with EA for 12 years and am currently on the Environmental College Board. I am also Chair of the WA Sustainable Engineering Society (SENG); a committee member of the National SENG Board; and SENG’s representative on the Infrastructure Panel, and its ISCA representative.
Why did you become a volunteer?
I became a volunteer because I wanted to learn more about Environmental Engineer career paths. This was great timing, because I was able to assist with the Environmental College’s “Define Your Discipline” project to better understand the expectations of environmental engineering graduates.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
Volunteering has given me the opportunity to work with amazing engineers, whose passion for the environment is truly inspirational; their energy and enthusiasm is contagious and I’ve made lasting friendships. Volunteering with them helps remind me about the power that engineering has to create a more sustainable world.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
My greatest achievement was becoming Chair of the WA Sustainable Engineering Society (SENG) in 2018, a technical society of Engineers Australia. SENG delivers professional development for the Environmental College and SENG members. It has been an incredible networking opportunity to facilitate a diverse range of experts delivering world-class presentations.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
My career experiences have allowed me to represent the Environmental College and SENG on many other committees. For example, following years of mine closure, I became Engineers Australia’s national representative on Standards Australia’s committee to assist ISO in developing a new international standard for Mine Closure, which is a fascinating process.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
As a sole trader, volunteering with Engineers Australia is essential – it keeps me informed about the latest engineering initiatives whilst establishing invaluable networks – and so I try to make time for it, like I would any job. Having said that, my real secret is an incredibly supportive and patient husband!
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
Volunteering with Engineers Australia can lift you out of a boring job, show you the endless possibilities of your engineering degree, and connect you with inspiring, accomplished engineers from across the country. Personally, it’s also been an invaluable way to keep my CV competitive while on maternity leave!
Image: courtesy of Michelle North