Casey Smith, Moree Plains Shire Council’s Parks and Open Space Superintendent, celebrated ten years with Council in February 2020 and has paved a unique path to the top, while smashing a few glass ceilings on her way.
Born in Moree, Casey studied engineering for two years at the University of the Sunshine Coast before returning to Moree as a trainee engineer with Council, where she completed her degree externally through USQ in Toowoomba. Casey married a local Moree man in 2013 and after finishing her degree in mid-2014, Casey moved into a role as a project engineer, where she fine-tuned her project management skills and completed all manner of designs including kerb and gutter designs, right before having her first child.
Four years later, Casey successfully secured her current role, making her the second female superintendent in Council history. In her role, she is responsible for the care and management of our Shire’s parks and gardens – including playgrounds, sporting fields, the CBD, the cemetery, the entrances to Moree, the Gateway and the Shire villages – as well as providing leadership and direction to her crew of 18 people.
Proud to call Moree home, Casey likes the fact the town is large enough to provide quality education facilities and diverse career opportunities but small enough to offer a great lifestyle. She explains that working with Council has allowed her to progress her career while exploring different pathways to more senior roles.
“Council has supported me to no end, especially with my degree. Not only financially but always ensuring I had the time to study for exams and leave to attend engineering residential schools.”
Diversity in engineering
In Australia, just 12 per cent of the engineering workforce is female, making female leaders like Casey an important part of addressing gender imbalance. Casey reveals that although she has risen up the ranks and now manages an 18-person team, she still feels the need to prove herself at work, given that she is in a generally male-dominated industry.
But becoming an engineer wasn’t part of Casey’s original plan and she has her physics teacher to thank for the change in direction.
“I really wanted to study psychology but my physics teacher got me thinking about engineering.”
After further thought, a decision was made to apply for environmental science and she attended a university open day to find out more. But on the day, the environmental science advisors were all busy, so Casey found herself talking to the head of engineering – the rest, as they say, is history.
Flexible working arrangements
Casey has managed the challenges of juggling a job with parenthood head on. With the typical day for a super starting at 6am, long before daycare opens, Casey’s ganger steps in to manage the start of the day from 6am to 8am.
“My phone is on 24/7, so I’m often at home packing lunches while taking calls and organising the workload for the day ahead.
“It normally runs very smoothly, but if it has rained overnight for example, this can throw out the plans for the day.”
Council has introduced flexible working arrangements such as the ability to job share and work part time which means employees with young families don’t have to choose between life as a stay at home parent or going back to work full time.
This has enabled Casey to job share her current role, working Monday to Wednesday, providing some much needed time at home to raise her two young children. “Without someone that I know I can rely on to step up on Thursdays and Fridays or even when my kids are sick, being a Superintendent would be impossible.”
Plans for the future
With her current role’s horticultural focus, Casey will complete her Certificate IV in Horticulture later this year which will help broaden her knowledge across a range of general horticulture areas. In terms of next steps, to complement her experience in urban works and open spaces, she has her sights firmly set on working with the roads crews, rounding out her exposure to the full spectrum of departments at Council.
Any tips for those considering a career in engineering?
Determination – Casey was one of three females studying engineering and only two finished the course, so being determined to achieve goals is really important. She also credits having strong role models and mentors along the way.
“As a trainee engineer, my supervisor was also a female. She was instrumental in helping me pave the path I have so far.”
Casey also credits the Operations Manager and Acting Operations Manager as people who’ve provided support and encouragement to help her climb the career ladder.
Find a job at Council
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