What's your job about?
I work in the Utilities Technical Regulation team within Access Canberra, an arm of the ACT Government that regulates utility services in the ACT. The team provides advice and recommendations to the Technical Regulator on matters associated with the operation of utility services.
I assist the team through assessing applications for operating certificates and assessing regulatory submissions of solar farms and dams in the ACT. I draft briefs to the Technical Regulator providing recommendations on the outcomes of these assessments and on other matters regarding applications, such as delays or timeline extensions for submissions. I get to shadow my supervisor to meetings of other ongoing projects as well as represent the team at external meetings. As a team, we work closely with our stakeholders to help meet compliance requirements.
Every day is different – as a beginner in the regulatory space I frequently read the legislation to understand its requirements. I try to align my work to the legislation and code to ensure security and reliability of services to the public along with other factors. Then there are days when I dive into intensive readings on industry developments to keep myself up to date.
What's your background?
I was born and raised in a small country in the Middle East called Bahrain (it is next to Saudi Arabia if you’re off to check the map). I had the typical life of a migrant Asian family and that included a competitive mindset.
I got selected by a university in India based on my Year 12 ranking. Spending four years of my life in India helped me get out the bubble that I once lived in. In my final year, when everyone was busy preparing for GRE/GMAT, I ventured to learn more about Australia. The fact that I had no relatives in Australia made this country more desirable than the US. As a child, I always wanted to go to an unknown land and be successful and probably (read as definitely) brag about it to my sisters and my future kids (and maybe for generations to come).
So just like other international students, I came to Australia in 2013 and every bit of struggle along the way motivated me to work hard and dream bigger.
My husband and I found that I was pregnant the day after I filled out the application for the 2018 ACTPS Graduate Program. We had a difficult pregnancy; and on the day I was nervously waiting for a call from the hospital my whole world turned around when the graduate team called in to offer me a position in the graduate program. The 2018 program commencement clashed with my due date (what are the chances) however, the team was very supportive of my circumstances and delayed my start with the program to 2019. In short, I got to be with my baby during his first year, enjoyed his laughs (but not the loud screeching cries) and joined the ACTPS a day after he turned a year old!
What characteristics or skills should someone have when it comes to your job?
An Electrical Engineering degree would be handy in order to understand the issues in the utilities sector and common jargon. With my degree and a growing interest in the renewables sector, I can understand the technical issues and learn more as new issues arise and different projects come along. I do not have on-field experience however senior Engineers and consultants in my team have vast knowledge and experience that I am able to tap into to fill any gaps in my understanding.
I do however assist in the dam sector without much background or experience in that space. I believe that the right attitude and an enthusiasm to learn are important to succeed.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
There are two aspects of my job I enjoy and that motivate me to come to work every day. Firstly, I am still learning new concepts every week. Secondly, my team consists of Engineers and consultants who are subject matter experts. They have vast industry knowledge and experience from the positions they previously held, like that of a project manager, general manager and executive branch manager. The flat structure of the team gives us easy access to all team members, even to my Director.
Each day I come to work not aware of what the day is going to be like; which is exciting and makes my role less monotonous. The diversity of expertise in the team means that I always have a door to knock at when I stumble upon an issue.
What are the limitations of your job?
Rather than calling it a limitation, I would say that in my role as an Engineer having on-field experience is valuable and would give you a good head start in the team. Certain days in my role can be challenging when I am not able to easily comprehend the complexity of the issue due to lack of field experience.
What is the most interesting thing you have worked on in your career with the ACTPS so far?
During the ACTPS Graduate Program, I was able to get a big picture view of the complexities involved in rolling out a major project like the Light Rail and about the roles played by different ACT Government agencies for the successful delivery of such a project.
In my first rotation with the Utilities Technical Regulation team, the team was in the process of issuing the Operating Certificate for Stage 1 operations commencement. During my second rotation with Major Projects Canberra, I had an opportunity to work on the planning aspects of Stage 2a and ongoing engagements with different stakeholders. This opened my eyes to the magnitude of complexities involved in the Light Rail project. My time with the Policy and Cabinet team in my final rotation helped me to tie up the entire Government process as the team worked co-operatively with involved agencies as the project progressed, providing updates to the Chief Minister and Cabinet.
Why I chose the ACT Public Service
I continue to work with the ACTPS because of the vast range of opportunities that I am exposed to and because I see a lot of potential for growth.
Every team that I have worked with has been very understanding of my personal circumstances and have allowed me to access flexible working conditions. This has been particularly helpful for me, especially at the moment!
What are 3 pieces of advice you would give yourself when you were a student?