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Adviser, Women in Oil and Gas; Committee Member, Engineers Without Borders
Amanda Quan spent much of her undergraduate years aiming to make engineering a more inclusive profession for those who work in it and for the community it serves.
Now that she’s graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from University of Western Australia (UWA), she’s ready to bring her advocacy efforts to the workplace.
Quan is a former member of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Volunteer Committee of Engineers without Borders and is an adviser to Women in Oil and Gas (WIOG), a group committed to diversity and inclusion – and the career development of women –- in the oil and gas industry.
“My involvement with WIOG has been so empowering,” Quan said.
“When I first joined, I was just at university and I didn’t really understand what was happening in the real world. Being a part of this group really opened my eyes to understand issues of diversity in industry. I learned how we can all stand together to make a difference, instead of making women feel that they’re not in the right place.”
“I feel that if I have all this education and benefit in my life, I should give back to the community.”
Quan excelled at maths and science at school, but it was a class excursion to UWA’s engineering facilities that inspired her career choice.
“I was looking at other courses at the time, but this excursion showed me how cool engineering was and I talked to some of the students and it really motivated me,” she said.
“After studying for a few years and joining WIOG, I knew I was pursuing the right career.”
Quan joined WIOG as treasurer in 2016. Her role included bookkeeping and preparing financial statements. In 2017 she was promoted to the role of WIOG President and spent a year leading the organisation’s agenda and events at the university.
“We advocate for gender diversity in the oil and gas industry, but this aim extends to all industries,” Quan said.
“It involves talking about how you can be a platform to enable women into STEM courses, and how we can professionally develop in our industry; how we can become prepared by listening to other women who have gone through situations in the workplace.”
Quan was an experienced volunteer before joining WIOG. She has been a committee member of UWA Young Engineers since 2016 and joined Engineers Without Borders (EWB) in 2015.
“I understood that Engineers Without Borders was looking at sustainability and how to bridge the gap between rural and metro Australians,” she said.
“My role was to help advocate for the projects it was developing in rural Australia.”
Quan said a highlight of her time with EWB was attending a camp in Bunbury, where she spoke to Indigenous leaders and saw first-hand how not-for-profit projects were assisting with basic needs, such as access to running water.
“I didn’t really think of these things before I was part of EWB,” Quan said.
“It was such a valuable experience.”
Quan’s final year of university included an internship at BHP, where she worked with the analysis and improvement team at the company’s Mount Whaleback site and in the fixed plant maintenance department. She also joined the mining giant’s diversity and inclusion committee.
“Initiatives like this are so important, but I think employers and managers need to do more to promote them to their employees,” she said.
Quan has recently accepted a role as a fire protection engineer at Aurecon in Melbourne.
“I’m really excited about the move, and I hope to eventually specialise in fire protection engineering,” she said.
“I really enjoyed my time at BHP, but it involved fly-in fly-out work, and I couldn’t see myself doing that for too long. Taking this job at Aurecon has opened my mind to what is out there for someone with an engineering degree.”
Quan also aspires to one day start her own not-for-profit organisation.
“I feel that if I have all this education and benefit in my life, I should give back to the community,” she said.
“In the end, we all need to work together to make a better future, and the younger generation is our future. I’ve got some ideas that I’m working on, but nothing solid to share just yet.”