The making of a successful executive
As Chairman at South East Water, Lucia Cade (BEng (Civil)(Hons), BEc, MEngSc, MBA, FAICD, FIEAust) brings her engineering skills to the boardroom, where she leads the board in overseeing the performance of the organisation. Her engineering expertise informs how she synthesizes information into recommendations on how to best meet customer needs and environmental obligations.
"Engineering skills provide a great foundation for executive and governance roles," she said. "They help us make complex issues understandable, and apply evidence-based problem-solving."
Lucia serves as a Global Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact – Cities Programme, which promotes urban development partnerships to meet the sustainable development goals. "With my infrastructure and water backgrounds, my role is to bring parties together," she explained. "I’ve spoken in front of delegations and at conferences around water management – innovation and consumer technology. It’s all about cross-sector collaboration."
Although Lucia has worked across infrastructure and various utilities, as well as professional services and construction, she doesn't express a preference for a particular area. Instead, she maintains that her enjoyment of a role relates more to the leadership and culture of an organisation. "I’ve been blessed with working with some amazing leaders who excel at communicating a vision, and creating an environment where people can flourish," she explained.
As a non-executive director on the national board of Engineers Australia, Lucia has a vision of her own. "Engineering has become undervalued as a leadership discipline, and I want to help reinvigorate it," she said. She believes Engineers Australia can achieve this, expanding the appreciation of the contribution of engineers to society.
Lucia’s career has thrived through three periods of maternity leave and working part-time. All of this has made her resilient and adaptable, even fearless. "To seize an opportunity when it comes along, you must recognise it, and be open-minded and ready to grab it," she asserted.
Underlying Lucia’s success is a strong belief in the power of mentors. "They offer a different perspective, and a critical view of your experience and your aspirations," she said. "And, they can help you be realistic without underselling yourself." Without the urging of one mentor in particular, Lucia might have delayed or never built the extensive board portfolio she has today.
Thanks to this advice, she finds herself well ahead of schedule. And shining.