Rosie has always let curiosity take the wheel when it comes to her career.
"When I’m talking to people and they’re really passionate about what they do, it makes me think how can I get there? What can I do to get closer to that feeling?" she says.
Since training in contemporary art, Rosie has worked in marketing and as a project manager in startups and banking. She started out in the field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in 2014.
Rosie is a now a Technical Program Manager with our world-leading robotics team.
Colourful career path
Rosie comes from a long line of creatives, with her parents meeting at art school. She followed in their footsteps, but ultimately the lonely aspects of artistic practice set her on a different path.
“I'm a social person and I just felt as though the actual career of it was a bit isolating and may not suit my needs," Rosie says.
“I really like being part of a team and building something with people together.”
A collaborative team, driven by impact, where her people skills could come into their own became her north star. She completed a double masters in marketing and advertising, and started out in the industry. But she still didn’t quite feel at home.
Rosie fought hard not to be pigeonholed by her former roles. It took her 60 job applications to get a callback for her first job in tech.
But eventually, her persistence paid off. She landed a job with a small software engineering business in 2014. After eight years in the tech industry, Rosie joined us in 2022.
"I do feel that my job at CSIRO is actually the closest I've ever achieved in getting to that end goal... this is where I’m meant to be," Rosie says.
Art versus science
Rosie is now a Technical Program Manager in robotics and autonomous systems. She ensures projects are delivered within scope, timeline, budget and acceptable risk.
She’s currently leading a project to help the International Atomic Energy Agency stop nuclear fuel from being stolen to make weapons. The project is building a robotic device to monitor spent fuel in cooling ponds. This task currently falls on the shoulders of human nuclear inspectors, who spend almost a quarter of the year on the road, carrying heavy equipment, and wearing protective gear to prevent radiation exposure.
Rosie said this game-changing prototype is the first of its kind to be submerged in the pond. This technology is increasing the accuracy of monitoring, relieving some of the pressure on human inspectors, and supporting world peace.
"What I’m most passionate about is the translation piece, helping people understand what it is we’re trying to do and why," Rosie says.
"It’s technically complex, we’re working with a client based in Vienna, in a very politically sensitive and sometimes secretive space."
Translating complex science
It’s hard to imagine two fields more different than contemporary art and robotics for nuclear safety. But Rosie says her arts degree helped teach her how to communicate complex concepts and ideas, without getting lost in the noise.
"Creating art teaches you to look to history, acknowledge those before you, have a vision and resonate on a higher level with an audience," Rosie says.
"This was great practice for translating complex ideas and taking stakeholders on the journey of research visions that might take years, even decades to realise.
"But it’s just as important to stay focused, and not get caught up in the concept. I’ve worked to condense this project into bite-sized pieces so we know we’re we’re going and why. This helps ensure what we’re doing is sustainable and achievable.”
Comfortable out of the comfort zone
Rosie’s current workplace, nestled among the gumtrees in Pullenvale outside Brisbane, is a far cry from the crisp white gallery spaces and the towering high-rises of her previous roles.
Her team is also a total change of scene. Rosie is one of just 11 women in a team of 58 at Pullenvale. She is one of two women in the robotics leadership team.
“I’ve never worked with so many men before. There is an incredible sense of camaraderie and just wonderful banter,” she says.
But being one of a handful of women in a workplace can be isolating.
“I am deeply committed to connecting and creating an environment for more women to flourish. We have succeeded in improving the representation of female scientists and engineers, but there is still much more work to be done,” Rosie says.
“Transparency in data and tracking the opportunities that women receive, their seniority and the number of women on term contracts versus permanent employees is important to me.”
Rosie runs monthly gatherings for female managers, scientists, and engineers in her wider research group. These gatherings aim to provide a platform for women in robotics to connect, offering support and sharing information regarding opportunities and industry events. She’s also actively worked to lift the representation of women in senior roles on the nuclear safety project from 10 to 50 per cent.
Real-life rainbow road
Championing diversity and inclusion has always been a key deliverable for this program manager. She originally set her heart on working with us when she saw our team march in the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
Her journey came full circle this year, with Rosie marching along Oxford Street during Sydney WorldPride 2023 with CSIRO’s team of 70 LGBTQIA+ staff and allies.
“Participating in the parade as an ally this year was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I actually lived my dream,” she says.
"It was tiring to continue dancing the whole way, and I didn’t think I would make it, but I had a lot of electrolytes afterwards and was on a high that lasted for a few days.
“In some of the more corporate environments I’ve worked in, you feel like you need to conceal who you are. The celebration of the individual and that celebration of being different at CSIRO is something truly special.”