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SA President – Carly Soutter my story

Address given to attendees at the recent Minister’s breakfast.

I've called South Australia home for just over 35 years - growing up not far from the Watiparinga Reserve about 10km south from here - I genuinely love where I live - steep hills, surrounded by nature I often say its cheaper than any therapy. Given the area is so close to Flinders University this has welcomed many migrant communities bringing with them their many languages and traditions that we now share on the beautiful Kaurna land I call home. 

I proudly stand before you for the next 18 months albeit not as an engineer but ideally taking what we’ve learned from previous leaders and developing a continuously improving and inclusive membership offering.

I don’t have a magic bullet, but I do have an incredibly passionate and hardworking committee, a god-send in Mark Jones our member engagement manager and a fierce commitment to really show the rest of Australia’s Water Industry that if we are diverse, inclusive and driven all towards the same goal – we can really make an impression on the national and potentially international stage.

So If I’m not an engineer, what am I? Given I’ve spent many years in bid management and events the short answer is very calm under pressure…


For the last 15 years I’ve supported teams in leading successful water industry bids, built a great knowledge bank of customer feedback insights and managed events like these; for specialist water firms.

I’m passionate about three key things:

  • First and foremost - Living, learning and working in a healthy, happy, motivating environment  
  • Second: Diversity – you may have assumed I meant Gender diversity. but what I really mean is Diversity of THOUGHT of background and of experiences.

My career satisfaction took an incredible leap when I entered the AWA Committee as a Marketing and Bids Professional;
My understanding of technical concepts lifted, my network expanded, my confidence developed and as a non-technical resource I genuinely started to connect better with those stakeholders and staff I was supporting day to day – I was more closely attuned to their needs. I was giving my employer greater value. – so For those people managers out there - in a world where there is a severe skills shortage – I ask you keep this in mind for your non-technical staff.

Lastly but certainly not least, I’m really determined to build a stronger link between SA Schools and our Water industry.

Whilst I don’t tend to nerd out on calculations and anaerobic digesters – I love the human aspects of our industry - that we have an opportunity through this Decade of Water to better connect with schools, support teachers, and remove the mystery of what a career in water looks like, make our language inclusive, empathetic and meaningful to students and make it easy to access work experience, career advice; mentoring, and ultimately helping them get involved and feel like they belong in SA’s Water industry.

Through these commitments and connections we can positively change the lives of those future generations whilst solving the skills and talent shortage and working with our member organisations to develop professional water talent.