A Conversation with Renee Wootton, Qantas

As part of our ongoing blog series, we will be sitting down and have conversations with a number of advocates in our local community. This week we speak to Renee Wootton from Qantas.

What is your name and role, and what is your passion in life?

My name is Renee Wootton and I am a Graduate Aerospace Engineer. I work at Qantas in the International Network Planning and Strategy Team as part of the Qantas Corporate Graduate Program. I am passionate about aircraft and aviation and in my spare time like to share this passion by inspiring other young people to aspire to a similar career or field of study.

Why do you do what you do? 

What I do: I volunteer my time in 3 different ways.
I volunteer my time to Careertrackers Alumni – an alumni group set up for Indigenous University Students who complete an internship in the Private Sector of Australia. I also give workshops on goal setting and what to expect in a professional environment for students who are entering their first internship.
Additionally I am currently supporting The Settlement, a non-profit organisation based in Redfern. This year, The Settlement has commenced their first eight week Leadership Program for the youth of Redfern/Waterloo (14-19 years old) to build confidence and develop leadership skills, with a focus on culture and education. As Alumni of CareerTrackers, I am supporting and assisting the leadership program by providing ideas, guidance and opportunities where possible. This includes examples such as a tour of corporate workplaces, career workshops and leadership guidance.
I also volunteer my time as a speaker and am a Project Manager for the Power of Engineering. The Power of Engineering is a non-profit organization that travels around to regional and metropolitan schools and regions around Australia to inspire the next generation of Engineers with a primary focus on pipelining female talent.  I speak at schools around NSW to inspire the next generation and give insights into what you can expect at University and how you can contribute to the betterment of your own community by becoming an engineer.
And finally, I volunteer my time to the Mercy Centre – a non-profit shelter for street kids and mothers and children with HIV AIDS, aimed at empowering men and women about their rights, providing access to basic services and providing experience to them that will help in generations to come. The center is based in the Klong Toey Slums of Bangkok and I have supported the center by volunteering my time with Qantas to get sustainable appliances into the Centre to reduce their electricity bills and redirect much needed funds back into the community, whilst also applying for DFAT grants and funds to help support the program. I will be visiting the slum in from March 11th – 18th to complete manual work including gardening, painting and working with the children. I do all of this because I was given a great opportunity to achieve greatness in this industry and there are so many that won’t be as fortunate, so I now give my time to inspire and motivate current Careertrackers Students and youth of NSW to pursue a career in Aerospace Engineering because for me personally it has opened so many doors. Additionally during school I was never provided information on Engineering, which I think is important in giving students accurate information so that they can make an informed decision about what career they want to pursue in their lives. It also gives students hope for the future and conveys that no matter where you come from you can in fact have a meaningful life and achieve great.

Are you a feminist and what does feminism mean to you?

Yes I am a feminist purely because I want equal opportunities for myself and every other female in the world. No one should be paid less or given less opportunity based on their gender. Females add a new way of thinking and create a more diverse work place, which ultimately improves productivity and innovation in businesses, which ultimately improves revenue – demonstrating that gender diversity benefits everyone and every business. My experiences in achieving a career in Engineering is what has driven me to become a feminist. Being under represented and at times, the only female on the floor in my building at work has demonstrated to me that there is a significant barrier to overcome in this field and we need to break the stigma that Engineering is a man’s world. Engineering is a creative, innovative and team driven industry, which aids in the helping people by optimizing and improving technology and infrastructure around the world. I’m sure a high proportion of women think that Engineering is dirty, only men can do it and it’s only for really smart people. No! In fact any one can do it – you just have to want it and work hard for it! Feminism to me means supporting other women to reach their full potential and standing up for our equal rights in society.

What do you think is the most pressing social problem today (globally)?

Climate Change and the Environmental Impact humans are having on the world.

If there was one resource you think everyone should view, what would it be?

A documentary called ‘Racing Extinction’ is a must!