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Women of Water work their wonder at the August meet up

What do you get when you cross a handful of female water practitioners with a bar? A fabulous evening of laughs, stories, and shared experiences with like-minded people!

On Tuesday, 27 July, the Queensland Branch hosted a Women of Water catch-up at the Osbourne Hotel (Fortitude Valley) to mingle with new and familiar faces. Our new Branch President, Margit Connellan, met us with open arms and a warm, friendly smile. This set the tone for a very talkative, social, and enjoyable night.

Natalie Muir, General Manager – Water & Environment for Cardno now Stantec, received praise from her colleague, Carolyn J. Einig, Principal Environmental Consultant and Restoration Ecologist from Cardno now Stantec’s Sunshine Coast office, for encouraging her to travel down to Brisbane, to enjoy an evening of networking with fellow AWA Queensland members. Carolyn’s energy and excitement filled the room, and she has made many new friends and connections. Carolyn later posted on Linked In “Water = Life, #womenofwater #climatechange #networking #goodvibes”. Carolyn, we hope to see you at our next event!

So, what’s the big deal about Women in Water networking events?

The best way to explain is by sharing my experience as a young water professional 11 years ago, having recently emigrated from New Zealand to Australia. The first AWA event I had the privilege of attending was the night of all nights – The AWA Gala Dinner in 2012. I remember feeling lost, not knowing anyone in a room of people that seemed to have deep connections carved out over decades. Only a handful of females were sprinkled around the room at that point, so later in 2016, I took the opportunity to attend a Women of Water networking event to try and make some of my connections.

At this event, I met Sandra Hall, then President of the AWA Queensland Branch, Sharon James, then AWA Queensland Branch Manager, and Jenny Danslow, AWA Queensland Branch Volunteer from Advisian. These three women were vivacious, full of energy and proud of being ‘water leaders’. Their energy, ambition and lust for life was infectious, and there was a mutual understanding, a particular type of understanding that I have only ever experienced in the water industry. When the subsequent AWA events rolled around, there were suddenly many familiar faces and people to gravitate to, and I was able to be myself, form genuine connections and share experiences.

After spending more time with many fabulous females in the water industry, I felt compelled to join the AWA Queensland Branch. I am now in my third two-year term and still enjoying it for the many connections I have made and the vast number of opportunities it has opened up to me, both personally and professionally.

Events like these can help to build one’s confidence. Connecting with like-minded people allows us to provide a sense of belonging and a united front in the cause for a more sustainable water future. It offers an opportunity to seek advice from peers and experts and establish valuable, long-term contact with people who often become friends.

These are the long-standing friendships I witnessed at my first AWA event. And whilst it was daunting to turn up as a fresh-faced ‘newbie’ who was new to networking, I now understand the power of ‘reaching in’. This is where Women of Water comes into its own. It’s a safe space to get to know people you will probably be working with in years to come, whether a colleague, client, or educator.

Women in Water networking events were initially born from a push to increase diversity and inclusion in the water sector. From its inception, there has been a major cultural shift that has helped to influence the water industry. When you look around the room at AWA events nowadays, you will undoubtedly notice a lot of diversity in the room, spanning different experience levels, gender, age, race, and disciplines, you name it. It’s important to note that the Women of Water events also welcome the participation of men and other diverse people from the water sector.

If this resonates with you, please join us next time we host a Women of Water event. I’d be thrilled to welcome you.