When Gabrielle Pennock was growing up, her loves were science and music. When it came time to choose a career path, science won out, but it was her musical background that helped guide her towards engineering.
“I think what attracted me to engineering was really the creativity aspects of it and the design aspect of it,” she said. “I know quite a few engineers who do have an interest in music. I think it’s that … way of thinking — approaching things from a slightly different angle.”
Today, Pennock works as Engineering Manager, Subsea and Pipelines, at natural gas producer Woodside, and when she talks to younger people, she highlights the creative possibilities her work offers.
“When I go to talk to students in schools about STEM, I talk about the STEAM aspect,” she said, referring to science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. “For me, it’s the artistic aspect that actually made it something that I wanted to look into.”
Part of this outreach to students has been judging the Emerging Engineers Competition, which is the result of a collaboration between OceanWorks and the University of Western Australia’s Girls in Engineering.
“I’m in subsea engineering at the moment and for the last two years they’ve chosen the topic of bio-fouling, which is fouling on subsea structures. It’s a real problem that we have on all of our subsea equipment,” Pennock said.
“It’s a billion-dollar issue across many industries and … students come up with some pretty amazing, left of field, crazy ideas. That’s what I love about it.”
Pennock oversees an operational team of about 50 engineers who support Woodside’s subsea production and projects.
“Most of my proudest moments are really related to the team and working together to achieve great outcomes,” she says. “In my current role as engineering manager, it’s what my team as a whole can achieve, and how I can enable them to work together to efficiently design and safely execute operational scopes with integrity and risk focus.”
She also points to the work she led on the Persephone gas field, including local subsea structures fabrication, and the North Rankin Redevelopment Project (which won the Engineering Excellence Award in 2014) as other highlights.
As a Chartered engineer, Pennock says she values being part of a community of engineers bound by technical and ethical standards, commitment to sustainable practice and service to the community.
“That’s also part of your armour as an engineer where you have an obligation to speak up about what you believe is the right decision…and be able to stand up and have the courage of your convictions as well,” she says.
“Having that more holistic aspect to engineering.”
Gabrielle Pennock’s top tips for success
- Develop your ethical approach to engineering by reading widely, asking lots of questions and seeking diverse perspectives.
- Seek out experienced people who are prepared to share their knowledge and get to know your end users.
- Be prepared to share your own knowledge and built the trust and confidence of your teams.
- Develop the integrity, courage and confidence to speak up when you feel you have a question or think something’s not right.
Interested in learning more about the Chartered credential? You may already have what it takes to become Chartered. Find out more here and start your pathway to Chartered today.