Cara Robb works in Project and Change Support with energy provider Jemena. Her responsibilities include coordinating projects and working with asset management across gas and electricity initiatives.
“I never saw myself working in a utilities company; I literally had no idea about utilities when I came into the business,” she says.
Ms Robb has a diverse career background. After migrating across from the education sector, which is so often female dominated, starting a career in utilities was something of a culture shock.
“You are acutely aware of being the only female onsite,” she explains.
Since making the move to Jemena, Ms Robb quickly became involved in women’s groups, making up part of the APGA’s pilot of the Women’s Leadership Development Program.
“Being in a female-only environment offers a different atmosphere,” she says.
“In the training, there’s no judgment; everyone shares stories about what isn’t working in the industry.”
Networking, Ms Robb says, is vital for retaining women in the industry.
“These spaces emulate the networking that men in the industry do quite naturally. Women don’t necessarily celebrate their own achievements. But when we get together, we become each other’s support and cheerleaders.”
Since then, Ms Robb has been very active in associated activities of the APGA women’s program.
“From that I have delved into working with the industry to try and keep building up a Women in Pipelines network. It was something we raised in 2019, but there was such high interest that last year the APGA had many more cohorts come through.
“We want women to come into the industry – to feel supported, safe, and build up on that so they can continue in the industry, because predominantly it has been historically a male environment.”
Before joining Jemena, Ms Robb studied teaching, specialising in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). One of her greatest projects has been to promote STEM for girls in primary and high schools.
This strong pedagogical arrow to her bow has informed Ms Robb’s experience in the utilities industry. As an educator and a graduate from the Women’s Development Program, growing individuals is something that is particularly important to her.
Ms Robb is currently Acting Chair of the Young Pipeliners Forum.
“I definitely want to be a mentor for those who aren’t quite sure – a sounding board or an advocate for people learn,” she says.
Being a woman is inextricable from the message Cara wants to impart on emerging field figures and instil into the next generation of industry leaders.
“Girls can see that they can be engineers, they can work out in the field and be a liney. They can do whatever they want to do – they just need strong, visible role models to show them that there is not just the stereotypical model of career types.
“The prevailing assumption is that engineers are men. You don’t see the jobs that are out there if you don’t see people like you represented in that industry.”
In order to know what opportunities are available to young women, Ms Robb says they must be actively included in the industry in one way or another.
“Jemena is doing a community program in Victoria, getting some of the female employees from the business – engineers, control room workers, people who work in the field – to actually go out to primary schools, trying to get that representation from an early age, to try and get more girls interested in maths and science.”
Ms Robb believes that awareness, education and strong networking opportunities are our best chance for attracting, retaining and promoting women in pipelines.