Updating Results

Hydro Tasmania

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Emma Birch

Emma Birch studied Bachelor of Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science – Geology & Geophysics at the University of Sydney and is now the Head of Asset Management Program Management Office at Hydro Tasmania.

What's your background?

I grew up in Sydney and went to an all-girls school and went onto study Engineering and Science at Sydney University. I got married in my final year of university to a Danish man and at that stage I didn’t know where we would base ourselves after university. Given we met in Tasmania, we ended up staying in Tasmania where I started my career with Entura, Hydro Tasmania’s Consulting arm where I stayed for nearly 9 years before I moved into the Asset Management side with Hydro Tasmania where I continued to work in Dam engineering for a further 5 years. At a fork in the road of my career I decided to get exposure into Management where I now head up the Asset Management Program.

What's your job about?

Reporting into the Executive General Manager, I am apart of the Assets and Infrastructure (A&I) leadership team. The A&I business unit is the largest at Hydro Tasmania with 363 people across field, trades, engineering, environmental and strategy. I have 5 direct reports with a total of 22 people in my team.

I am responsible for the running and operation of the whole A&I business area from a leadership and management perspective. I allocate and have oversight of all financials and keep an eye on the overall performance including projects, training, compliance, safety etc. A large part of my role is also the development of the field based employees like operators and apprentices. On a day to day basis I check in with our people to see how they’re doing, updates on their projects and commitments and be a role model for the business. 

Did you always know you wanted to work in this field?

No, I thought I would stay in engineering and was on my way to being a technical specialist in civil engineering but decided I wanted to pursue a career in management. To do so, I needed to build my business acumen and sought out opportunities. My role now is less technical and I have a lot more to juggle but I get to have a really broad understanding of the business operations.

What is most rewarding about your job?

The people! We have such a diverse work force and I enjoy working with people that think differently to me. I also play a key part in the development and performance of our people. I love to work with people to get the best out of them and help them exceed. It makes me happy when people are happy at work and enjoy what they do.

What were some of the challenges you faced in getting to where you are now?

Becoming pigeonholed into an area because someone is dictating your career opportunities. 

I also had the perception that in order for me to progress in my career I needed to come back to work full after I had children, which is what I did. This leads into ‘imposter syndrome’. I still sometimes ask myself ‘Am I good enough?’ ‘Am I cut out for this?’ even though I know I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t.

3 pieces of advice for you would give women who want to work in your industry?

  • You will never stop learning, so take in as much as you can!
  • Your career will progress wherever you want to take it, so back yourself and try new things.
  • If you’re unhappy, speak to someone.