For most of us, an uphill struggle sounds like a chore. but for a girl whose childhood was spent fell walking and camping in England's rugged north with her father, climbing any kind of mountain is taken easily in her stride.
With a passion for water and sanitation innovation from a young age, it’s little wonder bright spark Kelly Stallwood was nominated as a finalist for the Rose Curtis Award at last year’s Plumbing and Fire Industry Awards.
A graduate of Edinburgh University and Civil Engineer at Geschke, her unwavering ambition and bright ideas have catapulted her career from Yorkshire to Melbourne, with plenty of curve balls in between. Prepare to be inspired by the story of a sure shooter who refuses to take no for answer.
Hi Kelly, how did you find yourself in Australia?
For as long as I remember I have always wanted to live in Australia. The UK company I was working for when I graduated couldn’t get me the transfer I was looking for, so I came to Australia with no established work, determined to nd it. I found what I was looking for at Geschke, where colleagues became like family. They’re a great company who are very supportive. When I first made the decision to prolong my stay in Australia, Gareth (one of Geschke’s Directors; pictured with Kelly on trail run) was kind enough to let me stay with his family for a time. Gareth continues to be a great mentor for me and I’ve come along way with his support.
Talk us through a key project you have worked on.
One of our most significant ongoing projects is at a quarantine facility in Craigieburn. We put in 8km of main infrastructure including water, fire, gas, and sewer. We are now back there working on a later stage including the construction of the QC3 Avian Facility. The first stage of works was a huge project for Geschke and my role was to coordinate all our works. I did a range of work including service coordination, programming and managing quality assurance.
What is it that keeps you motivated at work?
I have an inherent desire to streamline processes. And working within the construction industry certainly provides endless opportunity to do just that. My whole career has been based on continued development and pushing boundaries and this is no exception at work. Keeping up with continual changes and demands for procedures and programming within the industry is never ending. Our ideas are continually challenged.
This continual demand for change can be met with animosity. But I love the challenge! Often I find if I’m not learning something new I don’t know what to do with myself. In this innovative world of change, we have to adapt and evolve with it.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
I would love to pursue a career to improve water supply and sanitation in developing countries, improving lives in a community that needs it. I thrive o problem solving; presented with limited resources and plenty of challenges, I would relish finding a solution for the betterment of a community.
Talk us though one of the most standout moments of your career.
While studying my Masters in Civil Engineering at the University of Edinburgh I took a direct exchange program to Iowa University. Nobody really jumped at the opportunity. Some Americans don’t even know where Iowa is. But it is one of the greatest things I have ever done. I had no idea what to expect. When I got there, it was the coldest winter they had experienced in 60 years, with temperatures reaching sub 40. Walking around campus, my eyelashes would actually freeze together! But the people I met were fantastic and it is without a doubt one of the most valuable experiences in my life to date. It taught me to never be deterred by the unexpected. Often the path you didn’t intend to choose leads you to the greatest opportunities.