5 Minutes With Kellie Dean, Principal Surveyor At Spiire
This article originally appeared in The Urban Developer, 22 March 2018.
The Institution of Surveyors Victoria (ISV) has recently elected Kellie Dean, Business Unit Leader – Surveying from Spiire, as their first woman President-Elect.
With over 15 years’ experience in the industry, Kellie was the seventh woman to become a licensed surveyor in Victoria, and has specialist experience that ranges from multi-level owners’ corporation subdivisions through to complex land subdivisions.
Kellie has worked on some of Victoria’s most high-profile developments, and her expertise in cadastral surveying allows her to add a unique perspective to development process, boundary setting, easements and other integral parts of property development.
The Urban Developer sat down with Kellie to get her perspective on what it’s like to be an extremely successful woman in surveying, as well as what she thinks the future holds for the industry.
TUD: How did you become such a great role model and advocate for women in the industry? Do you think this impacts the way you approach your role?
KD: In my role, I have gained a large range of experience which I share with my team and others. Through my leadership roles in multi-disciplinary development consultancies I have been a mentor to other women surveyors. I have done a lot of speaking at schools and universities where I’m always keen to speak to female students or women who are planning to enter the profession. I think it’s crucial that women have women role models to look up to.
Also, last year, with others, I worked to set up a Women in Surveying Sub-Committee as part of The Institution of Surveyors Victoria (ISV). So, we’ve got a small group of women surveyors who are building a support network for women in the industry and acting as role models for other women to look up to and to contact for mentoring and guidance. We are also in the process of connecting with other similar organisations and bodies who are focussing on diversity.
TUD: How did you become the first female President-Elect (and soon to be President) of The Institution of Surveyors Victoria (ISV)?
KD: I’ve been involved in the ISV for a long time, from back when I first started in my career. When ISV started the Women in Surveying Sub-Committee last year, I got much more involved with the Institution again and decided I wanted to make a difference to the profession.
So, I decided the President-Elect role was the way forward for me. I’m currently in the President-Elect role, and will be until October when I become the President for 1 or 2 years. After that I’ll be the Past-President – so I’m basically going in to a 3 or 4 year role with the Institution.
In the role, I want to ensure I’m representing our members with relevant issues that are facing our profession.
These include: promoting diversity and inclusion in the surveying profession; increasing member engagement within the ISV; and collaborating more with kindred professional bodies and stakeholders.
TUD: What would your advice be to any young women looking at coming into the industry?
The advice I would give young people is: Just give it your best shot, and if you’ve got dreams and ambitions don’t let anything get in the way of those things. Surround yourself with really good people and try to learn from those people.
If you can get yourself a really good mentor, do that. They’ll help you get through the challenges you’ll likely face.
Understand that not everything will be perfect, but even if it’s not perfect you can still learn from it, give it a go and follow your dreams.
TUD: Do you think that there are any particular challenges or opportunities for professional women in surveying?
The main challenge that women face right now is just getting the voice to be heard. Studies show that it’s not one woman sitting on a board that’s going to make the difference – it’s two or three. Then they’ll feel supported and comfortable enough to be able to raise their voice.
Right now it’s challenging, but so important, for us to get the weight of numbers right.
It’s also important for us to figure out why more women aren’t progressing to leadership roles.
We need to ask why women are doing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in secondary school but not transferring to STEM at university. We need to answer these questions so we can make sure every woman feels supported and confident to get where they want to go.
As far as opportunities, there are so many, where do you start? I think we’re at a time where it’s easy to really make a difference. There are so many opportunities for people willing to think outside the box and do things a bit differently and innovatively.
TUD: With technology progressing so quickly, what does the future of the industry look like to you? Are there any technologies we’re going to be seeing more of in the next 5 years?
I definitely think that artificial intelligence and automation technology is going to be on us before we know it.
I just did a presentation recently in Gippsland on artificial intelligence and the role of the surveyor and I didn’t get to the end of my presentation because everyone was just so excited to discuss the topic. That’s how excited our industry is for the next phase of technology.
As a surveyor, I think technology will change my role slightly. Since surveyors are responsible for all forms of measurements, I can see that being done a little more automatically through technology such as UAV’s/drones and 3D laser scanners.
But ultimately, as a human, I’m still responsible for interpreting all the data and information gathered by the technology and humans are always going to be responsible for the entire decision-making process.
I think that we’ll be moving to digital cadastral surveying, which means in 5 years anyone with a phone will be able to access the digital cadastral information.
That’s going to be a challenge for our profession – since everyone will have so much information in the palm of their hands. It’s going to be our responsibility to educate people on the data and to ensure that the boundaries and other aspects relating to land and ownership remain protected and correct.