Making change happen through trust and flexible leadership

Angela Klepac

General Manager, Projects and Construction

Career at a glance

I’ve been in the power industry for just over 30 years, starting out as a cadet with the Electricity Commission of NSW (now known as TransGrid) while studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Technology in Sydney.

My next career step was a position in their graduate program, which allowed me to move
around the company and discover which areas fit me best. I spent four years travelling around NSW, working in power stations and living in country areas. It was then that I really discovered my passion for the industry.

The roles I’ve held have all been interesting and diverse. I’ve worked as an engineer in Network System Planning, Transmission Line Design and Substations High Voltage Design, as well as a Procurement Manager, a Project Manager and an Engineering Manager looking after a large group of highly skilled and professional engineers.

After 28 years with TransGrid, I moved across to Zinfra 2 years ago. I still work closely with
TransGrid though as one of Zinfra’s key clients, which is fortunate because I have a lot of useful insights that help us facilitate good communication and deliver successful projects that meet their needs.

Working at Zinfra

When I joined Zinfra, I was set up with a ‘buddy’. This made my transition into the company
quick and seamless, so I was able to hit the ground running within a couple of short weeks.
Working with the project team and delivering projects has been the highlight for me since
joining the company. It doesn’t matter which team you’re in or who you report to, everyone
gives their all and brings their knowledge and expertise to the table. No one ever claims to
know it all and we are all great at working in collaboratively.

There’s a great work culture here at Zinfra too. Everyone understands that they are subject
matter experts in the areas they’re responsible for, but we always challenge each other to
make sure we get the best outcome for the client and the project. It’s very progressive, and I
find that the most enjoyable part of working as part of the Zinfra team.

Another thing I really enjoy is the diversity of the work we deliver. All our clients have their own unique ways of doing things, so we need to have a strong understanding of the industry and our clients’ work portfolios to figure out how best to support them.

Great managers show flexibility, belief and trust, and keep their staff highly motivated
Angela Klepac, GM Projects and Construction

Greatest career challenges and achievements

As a female in a very male dominated field, I felt that I had to work hard to earn my place as a
capable and competent technical professional. I was fortunate to have a great working
environment, in which my senior managers and work colleagues provided a clear pathway to
rapidly grow and learn within the industry.

Being able to climb the career ladder by leading people and making positive change happen has been a real achievement for me. Great managers show flexibility, belief and trust, and keep their staff highly motivated. It’s also really important to show respect to your colleagues and peers so that you earn their respect in return, get the most out of each other, and build a
positive work culture.

Probably my greatest achievement is having the privilege to represent Australia for CIGRE (The International Council on Large Electric Systems). I proudly volunteer my time to this international technical community, which collaboratively develops and shares expertise in power systems. I started out as the Australian Study Committee Convener for Substations and am currently a Director on the Board.

Passions outside of work

I’ve always been an early riser, and one of my favourite things to do is go for long morning
walks – even in the dead of winter. It gives me time to collect my own thoughts and plan for
what will often be a busy day ahead.

I have three older children - some still at home - and my husband and I love to cook and bring the rest of the family together whenever we get the chance. We’re all very busy, but my family keeps me balanced. They’re always watching out for me and reminding me what’s important.

Climbing the ladder and giving back

The biggest tip I can give women, and anyone really, trying to establish themselves in any highly competitive and technical industry, is to stay strong and believe in yourself. Don’t ever give up, even when it feels impossible. Surround yourself with smart, hardworking people and keep focused on your short and long term goals.

One thing I can’t recommend enough is to get yourself a good mentor. I’ve found that having a male mentor in what has been a primarily male driven industry has been very beneficial. They can give you the confidence and reassurance you need to navigate relationships and find effective ways of working, because they help you see things from a different point of view.

Make sure you find someone you can trust and feel comfortable confiding in too, because you’ll likely need advice on navigating personal matters and how best to get the balance right for work, life and family.

Key career influences and supporters

Engineering is all about solving problems, which is great, because I love a good challenge! I
thrive in chaos and get great joy out of making things better and continuously improving. If
there’s a problem, I’m out there trying to solve it.

The market is always shifting though, and young engineers entering the field need to be
prepared. Surrounding yourself with a strong network of people, and leveraging off good
contacts in the industry to help you solve problems will serve you well. Don’t be afraid of
making mistakes – be thankful you’ve learnt something new and use the experience to become smarter and stronger.