Nov 26, 2018People & Industry

Local Queenslander engineers a new approach to work-life balance

A local Queenslander is combining her passion for engineering with a determination to create diversity in the workplace by championing the role of women in the gas industry.

Hailing from Tieri in regional Queensland, Candice Lam is a University of Queensland alumni working for BHP in Brisbane as a Principal Strategy Development in their Maintenance Centre for Excellence, responsible for digital innovation and transformation.

“From my high school days, I’ve always known I wanted to work in engineering, and had my sights set on being a robotic engineer – robots fascinated me!”

“Having grown up in mining country, I wanted to work in the field after completing my double Bachelor degree in Engineering and Commerce, and eventually followed my heart to the Pilbara in Western Australia to work in an open cut iron ore mine, and the port operations shortly after,” said Candice.

“Post graduate program, I started looking for control systems engineering roles in Perth and landed myself a job as a subsea engineer in the oil and gas industry. Little did I know, I would go on to spend the next decade in the industry.”

Today, she is responsible for leading the development and implementation of world class asset management programs driving a culture focused on defect elimination and excellence in planning and scheduling, working with BHP teams around the world.

For most of her career, Candice has found herself as one of the few female control system engineers in the workplace, and it has been a driving factor in encouraging other young women to consider STEM career options. She currently serves as the Chair for the UQ Women in Engineering Alumni Ambassador Council. She is passionate about creating a community and empowering them to improve inclusion and diversity in the industry.

“Dynamic and flexible working is key to achieving sustainable and diverse teams. There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ for life more broadly, so why would there be one for STEM-based careers or female engineers?”

“The number of female engineers is slowly increasing as companies are adopting new strategies to create inclusive and diverse workplaces.  There is however, a long way to go before it becomes the norm that these women aren’t stepping away from industry due to family commitments and working environments.  We need to focus on supporting females at every stage in their career.”

When it came time to start her own family, Candice handed over role and responsibilities not to a maternity leave cover, rather a whole team of graduates and technicians, giving them an opportunity to try something new and improve their skills while she took time off to start her family.

“At the time, I was physically limited to perform offshore work, or work in hazardous areas such as the high-pressure testing bay, so I dreamed up the idea to train our graduates and upskill our technicians to do my role in my place. I felt fantastic giving that time and knowledge that came with technical training, and I also felt empowered that I was enabling my career to continue.”

Her advice to future engineers ready to make a difference?

“Your plan doesn’t need to be perfect because you figure it out as you go.”



The natural gas industry directly employs thousands of Australians and continues to create jobs in local communities across the country. Not only that, industry jobs are well-paid. The average wage for workers is over $160,000 a year (Australian Bureau of Statistics), which makes it Australia’s highest paying industry. That’s great for those with jobs related to natural gas, but it also helps keep local communities running too.