In applying for the Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program (WMELP), Thom hoped to make some new connections and polish his professional skills while working on the Flow-MER project with his mentor Richard. However, the journey unfolded into something much more expansive, offering a renewed sense of purpose and direction in the waterway industry.
The program’s outset saw Thom and Richard tackle the Flow-MER project for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWO), for which Thom was responsible for delivering Streamology’s contribution to the project: riverbank condition monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on the lower Goulburn River. It was a significant undertaking and Richard’s expertise in water for the environment proved invaluable. Still, there was an underlying question: Was the full potential of this mentorship being tapped? It seemed like more could be drawn from the program than just this one project’s advancement.
A change in course
The defining moment in the partnership for Thom was the realisation that Flow-MER was not the main reason for joining the program — really it was about gaining a better understanding of his place in the waterway industry. This realisation prompted him to think about the aspects of his work as a waterway scientist that brought joy — was it the geomorphology, the drone operations, the challenging spatial analyses, or something else? Conversations with Richard, fellow mentees, colleagues, and supervisors about their career paths provided perspective, helping to create clearer professional aspirations.
Finding the flow
Through this process, Thom gained insight beyond the day-to-day responsibilities of his work. He found his passion lay in tackling and solving complex problems — for colleagues, clients, and waterways. The idea of becoming a ‘trusted advisor’ in the consulting sector struck a chord, offering a new lens through which to view his professional identity.
This newfound clarity, gained through the mentorship journey, translated into a stronger conviction in career direction and industry positioning for Thom. With the program’s conclusion and the successful wrap-up of the Flow-MER project, Thom is now charting a path towards becoming a senior scientist at Streamology. This solidification in career trajectory, sparked by his experiences in the program and mentorship with Richard, instilled a newfound confidence and sense of direction.
Embracing the journey
The most significant takeaway from the program for Thom is the value of acknowledging career uncertainties and the power of sharing these uncertainties with others. Engaging in candid discussions about career-related doubts and aspirations, both within the mentor-mentee relationship and with the broader professional network, proved to be transformative. This openness, and the supportive environment the program offered, helped to bolster Thom’s career confidence and solidify his identity as a waterway scientist.
Apply Now for 2024!
Applications are now open for The Waterway Management Emerging Leaders Program in 2024. The Program is a structured mentoring program focusing on improving the on-ground delivery of current Victorian riparian restoration projects. This Program provides an opportunity for the most effective approaches to be shared and adopted between all those working in waterway management across the State.