Meet the grads - Kathryn Silvester
What attracted you to apply for the Sydney Water Graduate Program?
I knew I wanted to work in the water industry when I was traveling in Africa and I saw the lack of access to clean water and sanitation. Sydney Water is Australia’s largest water and wastewater service provider and, consequently, there are such a variety of opportunities available. As well as that, Sydney Water’s corporate goals and values aligned with my own, so I knew it would be a good fit and a great place to start my career in water.
What’s the best part about working for Sydney Water?
Sydney Water recognises the need to invest in and develop their staff, particularly junior members. I have always been able to sit down with my manager and ask for opportunities to develop different skills or to work on particular projects. Staff are incredibly generous with their time: coaching, mentoring and sharing both their knowledge and skills. The people here have also encouraged me to take on challenges within the Australian Water Association, International Water Association and WaterAid. I have found this supportive culture the best part about working for Sydney Water.
What’s been your proudest moment at Sydney Water?
In 2016 I won the Australian Young Water Professional of the year award for my contribution within Sydney Water and the Australian water sector. It was an honour to be recognised in this way and only possible through the support I’ve had from Sydney Water to take on a variety of incredible opportunities, including organising a National Young Water Professional Conference and sitting on the International Water Association Strategic Council.
Have you worked in the one team/one role or moved about? Where have you worked?
The Sydney Water Graduate Program offers a broad exposure to the water industry through its rotations. I have worked in operations, engineering, planning and strategy – all with a focus on wastewater treatment. It has been incredibly valuable having worked on a treatment plant to then move onto a role where you are assessing the performance of a plant or assessing the best upgrade options for servicing future growth. I’ve also enjoyed thinking about our overall strategy and what targets all our treatment plants should be aiming for to improve environmental outcomes.
What about the future of Sydney Water that excites you most?
There is so much growth projected for Sydney which means there are lots of great projects focusing on how we will service this growth. Sydney Water is challenging the way we do things so we are able to provide better services for our customers, enhance community amenities and restore our waterways. It’s a great place to develop the skills required to do this and making a positive impact by shaping the future of Sydney.
How do you balance your career and other commitments? Has working at Sydney Water helped you in any way?
Sydney Water has a fantastic work/life balance culture, which is why I have been able to take on a number of challenges outside of work. My latest challenge is studying a Masters of Integrated Water Management part time. The flexibility I have with my role and being able to take study leave mean I can do this, work full time and still have a life!
What’s something you want to achieve or accomplish this year?
I have been in my current role as a Planner in Liveable City Solutions since October 2016, so am looking forward to continuing the development of my skills as well as leading some really interesting projects. I want to finish the first year of my Masters of Integrated Water Management, implement some of my learning into my projects and share this new knowledge with my colleagues.
What advice would you give to people who want to or are considering applying to Sydney Water’s Graduate Program?
Sydney Water is a fantastic place to begin a career in the water sector and once you have started there are opportunities to work in areas you just won’t be given elsewhere. I would recommend thinking about whether your personal values align with Sydney Water’s corporate goals and values. If so, you will find working at Sydney Water really rewarding – so you should definitely apply!