Spotlight on staff: Tamworth engineer Meroeh Suesser-Shaker
Meroeh Suesser-Shaker is a chartered professional engineer and senior project manager at NSW Public Works. We spoke with Meroeh about her work experiences since joining the organisation in April 2021, and what she enjoys about living and working in Tamworth.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in the heart of Southern Africa, where, although I attended a private school, my parents ensured my brother and I volunteered our holidays and some weekends giving back to the community. I remember spending my school holidays tutoring younger children at public schools, learning that education was a privilege in Africa and how most of the population were deprived of even basic educational infrastructure needs. Despite their suffering and hardship, these children and their families somehow managed to be sincerely happy and joyful. My time with them created in me a passion for rural and regional development and, watching how my father gave back to the community using his professional capacity as an engineer, it cemented my desire to become an engineer and give back to community in the same way. I have had the privilege of serving communities in South Africa, Germany, Hobart, Perth, Sydney, and now Tamworth, Australia.
What does an average day look like for you?
At 8 am, I begin my drive to drop off my children at school and make my way to work, where I resolve urgent issues waiting in my inbox and plan my tasks for the day. Issues range from resolving groundwater redirection that was not included in the detailed design, to reviewing variations and requests for information issued by a contractor, to planning procurement documents for a client. I then work through my tasks, which need to be organised around meeting attendance. After lunch, I revisit my inbox and continue working through my planned tasks. At around 3 pm, I pick up my children, complete my assigned tasks for the day from home for a couple of hours and do one final round of my inbox.
What projects are you working on?
I am working on the Legacy Mines Program, the Ray Walsh House Refurbishment, and the New England Rail Trail.
What has been your proudest moment/achievement at NSW Public Works?
I was proud to have led the refurbishment of the Old Teachers College in Armidale, allowing for 100 new office workspaces for Department of Regional NSW employees to serve the regional community.
I was also humbled to lead the delivery of the Tamworth and Armidale Fire Council Centres to house NSW Rural Fire Service members, staff, and volunteers, who help their communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
NSW Public Works supports and encourages staff diversity. What’s been your experience? How does staff diversity make NSW Public Works a stronger organisation?
Coming from an engineering design management background, I am fortunate to lead a fantastic team of engineers and builders experienced in various fields of the industry. The diversity of thought and experience strengthens the organisation throughout all phases of the project lifecycle and enables multiple facets of knowledge sharing.
When did you move from Sydney to Tamworth? What do you enjoy about living and working in Tamworth?
I moved to Tamworth in April 2021. I enjoy the view of the mountains from my house and on my drive to work. I have grown to love the Tamworth community and its sense of unity and camaraderie.
Has anything surprised you about living in regional NSW?
How helpful and friendly people are here. Even though I have been living here for only 18 months, the Tamworth community has made me and my family feel like Tamworth is our true home.
What would you say to other project managers thinking about working in regional NSW?
The sense of purpose you develop serving the regional community of Tamworth makes waking up every morning even more worthwhile. Come to Tamworth. We are working towards building a stronger, larger, and more vibrant community and need all the help we can get. There are plenty of people in Sydney to do the work in Sydney.