As part of International Women’s Day 2021, Thea de Klerk spoke about her role in engineering, navigating challenges in the workplace, and the best advice she has to share.
Thea is a Senior Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) Engineer based at Babcock Australasia’s Devonport Base in Auckland, New Zealand.
Tell us about your role as a Senior ILS Engineer.
I am the team lead for the Integrated Logistic Support (ILS) team in the Centre of Engineering based at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland, New Zealand. The ILS team is responsible to scope In-Service Support Contracts for the Navy, to perform Obsolescence Management and to provide technical support to the Naval Supply Depot.
What has your job involved during the COVID-19 pandemic? Has it changed at all?
As a team leader, I had to ensure that all my team members settled into the new routine of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This not only involved assisting and enabling everybody to work remotely in terms of technology setup, but also to monitor everybody’s emotional well-being.
We have received great support from management and agile working is now becoming more prevalent in Babcock. It has thus become easier to work efficiently offsite. The work methods/place of work may have changed, but the type of work we do remained mostly the same.
What has been the biggest achievement in your Babcock career so far?
I thrive on small achievements every day. However, if I have to single out one achievement I am particularly proud of during my time at Babcock, it would be reviewing one of our client processes, engaging with stakeholders and updating the associated client documentation all within a relatively short period of time. By engaging the major stakeholders throughout the process, the whole review and approval process was completed without any hitch or delay.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced during the pandemic? How did you overcome it?
My family and I immigrated to New Zealand from South Africa early in 2020. The biggest challenge for us was to find our feet in our new home country while being in lockdown for a few months. It was difficult to try and integrate into society while being in isolation, but in some ways I think we were fortunate to have experienced it in this way, as the “new normal” just became part of the change we were adapting to.
Did you receive any support as a young girl or woman that was invaluable to your career or your career choice?
I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful coach, mentor and friend that supported me throughout my career. He taught me much of what I know, encouraged me to excel and motivated me to challenge myself. We’ve now been working together for more than 15 years at various different companies, and even though we live in different countries, he is still the person I rely on for career advice.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
If Plan “A” did not work, it is a good thing you still have 25 more letters in the alphabet to try! Don’t ever give up!