Engineering, discovered a love for computer technology, and graduated with Honours. She now manages millions of dollars worth of ICT projects in her role with Queensland Rail (QR).
Charlene Clark, Queensland RailCharlene began university studying Law and International Business, but then switched to Electrical Engineering, discovered a love for computer technology, and graduated with Honours. She now manages millions of dollars worth of ICT projects in her role with Queensland Rail (QR).
Why a career in ICT?
I more or less fell into it. Starting uni in the law and business side of things, I found that I was missing maths, so I made the change to electrical engineering, and eventually found my home in the ICT industry. The work environment is always changing. ICT is new and exciting and challenging. It takes you out of your comfort zone and there´s the constant satisfaction of achieving something great that you didn´t think you could achieve.
How did you get where you are today?
After uni, I had a few options. It was always going to be either electronics or ICT and the opportunity to work as a systems engineer in the QR graduate program came up first. I was more than happy to join the program, because I could see the great career opportunities. I started off rotating through various roles and ended up in project management, where I was thrown into the deep end, managing projects worth millions of dollars, which I brought in on time and under budget.
What is your role with QR?
I have worked my way up through various roles since I have been here. I completed a 12-month secondment to Microsoft´s Brisbane office, was program manager for QR´s IT projects, and headed up a $12 million Translink project, with 17 staff working under me. I am now acting as the Queensland Rail ICT Advisor for Passenger Services, as their main point of contact for all IT needs and customer experience.
What are the rewards of your job?
I love working with customers, being able to point them in the right direction and have them go away happy with the services I have provided. It is always challenging to ensure you are meeting your customers´ expectations, which makes documentation and sign-offs so important in this industry, so everyone know what to expect from a project.
I also like the security of working for a large public sector organisation, especially in the current economic climate. I am provided with everything I need to do my job including a laptop and Blackberry.
I get to work with cutting edge technology, keeping up with the latest and greatest that comes out of the industry and even in the public sector, the financial rewards are excellent as you work your way up. Plus there are tangible rewards, such as when I won the 2007 Women in IT ´ICT Professional of the Year´ award.
I know I love my job, because I get up every morning and can´t wait to get to work. My friends talk about how they´d retire if they won lotto. Not me! Sure, I might take a holiday, but I would never give up my job.
How flexible is your job?
QR has great work-life balance policies in place, which gives me great flexibility. I do work long hours when a project is underway but that gets balanced out at quieter times.
ICT in the global village
ICT provides the platform for communication around the world these days, so it has an important role to play in raising awareness about issues. It is also good that the ICT industry is always looking at ways to become ´greener´.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in ICT?
Just do it. It doesn´t matter what qualifications you have, anyone can have a career in this industry, and add value to it, if they have a genuine interest in computers and technology.
It´s a career path, not a job. There are just so many opportunities. You don´t have to be on the technical or development side of things - you could be in the business, project management, marketing or creative fields.
I think at the moment we have seen a drop off in young people choosing ICT as a career because they are all blasé about computers, having grown up with them. They see technology as a utility, not a career. Young people need to embrace ICT so we can grow the industry and make it glamorous again.
Away from the computer ...
I love fishing! I have two boats, a 19 ft half cabin, and a 13 ft tinnie, and I love to go cruising on Moreton Bay and up to Bribie Island.
I also enjoy bushwalking, walking my dog, cycling, scrapbooking - things that really get my mind away from computers - and just going for a weekend drive.
I don´t use computers much away from work - I try to do completely different things, and maybe that helps me maintain my love for my work.
Read more about Charlene's career in ICT Download