Roxanna Partow


 Office: Melbourne

"Some people would think that being one of the only females in my course would have been a challenge... from day one, I took this as an opportunity..."

Why did you get into this industry?

I have always been inquisitive by nature and have always asked many questions. I was one of those kids who drove everyone mad by constantly asking questions about everything. “Inquisitive by nature” was something that was always written on my report card. I soon learned that the questions you ask are often just as important as finding the answers. In high school, maths and science subjects taught me to find the answers to questions through lab work and solving problems. I was fascinated by the mathematical patterns that emerged, much like presenting logical ideas in a harmonious way.

From this I gained an appreciation for the application of science and maths in the world we live in. 

I also found it exciting thinking about working on world-class, challenging projects, the type that could influence and enhance the lives of everyday people, all over the world.

What did you need to do?

Getting through my final year in high school was a big one – I studied so hard to get the best final score I could and knew no other balance. Once I completed my final exams and received my results I was faced with deciding which career path to embark on.  I decided to give a Science / Engineering double degree a ‘go’ at Monash University. 

University was great training ground for forming productive relationships which I believe are the basis of career success. The long course hours and multiple exams encouraged group work with friendships I had formed. Additionally, my inquisitive nature meant that I soon became known among my lecturers as the person that asked a lot of questions to clarify their often very limited notes!

During my University studies, I also undertook two internships, the first at CitiPower / Powercor and the second at WorleyParsons.

Once I completed my 5 year double degree I landed a job as a graduate engineer at WorleyParsons in the Power Systems Studies group and the rest is history.

What were some of the challenges and highlights?

Some people would think that being one of the only females in my course would have been a challenge. Well, from day one, I took this as an opportunity to commit to be the best I can be in my field. In the workplace, interacting with the many different personality types has been a real learning experience. This is something they don’t teach you at Uni; you just flex and adapt knowing the only person you can control and change is yourself. 

Developing career plans have also always challenged me. I have often been lost for words when asked where I see myself in 5 or 10 years’ time, or what I am passionate about. I've learnt a lot about what other people do and this has helped me get closer to realising my true passions! In hindsight not having a fixed career plan has actually worked out favourably as I have remained open to new opportunities while continually expanding my knowledge and developing myself professionally. 

Taking part in Corporate Responsibility activities has led to many highlights. One that stands out is my experience as a volunteer where I shed light on what engineering as a career is to a group of year 10 high school students. Part of this assignment, led by the Engineers without Borders group was to guide the students through issues that may be faced by people living on floating houses on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. Following this session, I was so intrigued by this community, so on my travels to Cambodia, I visited this community on the Tonle Sap Lake and saw firsthand the challenges the students had brought up. 

A work highlight was when I went to Gove, (a very remote part of Northern Territory) to assist Rio Tinto Alcans with the H824 Interim Power Station Project - I had to hit the ground running with a project that had a tight time frame and budget, and managed to close the project on time and ahead of budget. Being in an unfamiliar remote location by myself and experiencing a somewhat different culture while still being in the same country made for a great all round experience! 

Another highlight has been witnessing changes in the energy industry and what the future of that looks like. As an expert in this industry, it is exciting to be involved in projects that are helping shape our countries for a brighter and more sustainable future. For me, the challenge here is keeping your knowledge up-to-date with an industry that is shifting fast. This has led me to a recent highlight relating to my funded New Energy related innovation idea. 

What’s your greatest achievement?

As mentioned above, I recently received funding for my innovative power sharing idea! The feedback, views, comments and likes from peers and managers alike has definitely been encouraging and supported the journey so far.

The funding of this idea has given me the opportunity to work and collaborate with industry experts whilst fast tracking and gaining even more knowledge about the industry. The fact that I get to lead a project I am very passionate about is very exciting for me.

The concepts of this project also align with some of the things that I value today:

  • Community focused
  • Green and sustainable
  • Consumer driven    

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

I think it is important to never stop learning. Be curious; ask questions - particularly of those who have more experience in any field. 

Have many mentors, men and women, professionals and non-professionals. They all add value in different ways. Find people who inspire you - learn what they did to get to where they are. Also, books are great mentors too!

Have a vision that inspires you to do something new every day towards achieving it.

Have good friends and make time for them - you become the direct reflection of your peers. Pick them carefully. You will realise what value each bring to your life.

And finally, travel while you are young or study abroad – the experiences and lessons you get from travel make you a great story teller.