In the fast lane

Engineering graduate Madeleine McManus is keeping up a busy career pace, but one event has caused her to pause. By ​Larissa Dubecki​.

Madeleine McManus

Making the shortlist of the prestigious Telstra Businesswoman of the Year awards has made Madeleine McManus pause – a rare event in itself – and reflect on a busy career notable for her leadership roles in multiple areas including engineering, the not-for-profit sector​,​ and government.  “It’s  what  you would call a portfolio career,” she says with a laugh, and certainly she has worn many hats since graduating from Monash engineering and commerce in the first cohort of double degrees in 1993. Her CV is a dizzying thing, with broad experience in Australia and  overseas  in engineering, supply  chain management, project management and business development.

Three years ago she was approached by the incoming Dean of Engineering and Academic Vice-President (Industry Engagement), Frieder Seible, to join the faculty as Director of External Engagement. Her role is to assist organisations wishing to engage with Monash, including the Monash Industry Partnership  Program  and  the Monash Industry Team Initiative (MITI), which partners multi​-​disciplinary student teams with Australian and global industry. “The academic environment I never thought would suit me, but it’s been great. ​“We’ve implemented MITI, which has gone  bananas,  and we have  lots of interesting long-term collaborations with industry.”

Also keenly aware of institutional barriers to women’s participation in engineering, M​cManus​ was the first female chairperson of Engineers Australia, and is active in promoting STEMM education to women. “There’s definitely unconscious bias in the industry. I’ve realised in  my  profession  there are not many senior women at all, and there is a difference in confidence, which needs to be addressed.”

She was “amazed, and honoured” to be shortlisted in Telstra’s Public Sector and Academia award. Winners were set to be announced after Monash Life went to press, ​but, says M​cManus: “Just to make the shortlist is amazing recognition of a journey inspired and supported by a number  of  different  mentors who never allowed me to accept the status quo, and always made me stretch beyond my ability.”

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