Joining Umow Lai (now a member of the Integral Group) over 22 years ago, Silvia Misuraca been a stalwart of our family and a proud supporter of Women in Engineering and the Industry. Silvia achieved her promotion to Associate Director at the end of 2019 in recognition of her excellence in Fire Protection, Fire Safety Engineering and commitment to the firm.

When asked why does she do what she does, Silvia responded In the end, I do what I do because I love it’. During high school, Silvia enjoyed Maths and Physics classes, so her father suggested she pursue engineering. It was her work experience at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade which cemented her decision to work in the Fire Protection and Fire Safety Engineering fields.

“The work has been challenging, the projects interesting and the people, especially my team, have been an absolute joy to work with.”

Throughout her career, Silvia has had mentors, both women and men, who have provided excellent training and strong guidance, helping her grow as an engineer, and a person. She has enjoyed the technical aspects of working with highly skilled colleagues in the complexities of Fire Safety Engineering but is always seeking practical and pragmatic solutions. Having Director Elizabeth Coe as a role model has allowed her to learn from another supportive female in the workplace and to try to balance work with raising a family (acknowledging this is an issue that both women and men in the industry face).

As the Fire Protection Discipline and Resourcing Head of Department, she feels that it is important to give back to the industry by being active in the engineering community and providing mentoring to her team at work. “Taking on any type of leadership role is difficult. But why should men have all the fun?” The leadership roles that Silvia has undertaken throughout her career have challenged her, placed her outside her comfort zone, allowed her to grow, and continue to add to her job satisfaction. Silvia is a strong advocate for more women stepping into these roles.

“We talk about gender equality, yet still in engineering, especially in Australia, the proportion of women engineering graduates is much lower than men, and in the workforce, the number of women transitioning to higher executive levels is especially low. We are moving in the right direction. We are making engineering fun for women; creative, tangible, and interesting. We are letting girls know at an earlier age that they can, and should, look at engineering as a career path.”

‘We need parents to suggest engineering not only to their sons, but especially to their daughters.”

When asked what her favourite project to date has been, Silvia told us ‘each project has its challenges, regardless of size, and each is a learning experience.’ But, her most rewarding project to date is the Melbourne Recital Centre (MRC), completed in 2009. “This project brought together many loves that I have including challenging engineering, amazing architecture, music and my family. This was a demanding project from design through to construction, and it was memorable because I gave birth to my second child while it was out to tender.” The MRC is a landmark building in Victoria, and Silvia says she is fortunate to have attended many concerts there, including watching her daughter sing on the stage, making it “the greatest joy of all.”

If you would like any more information about Silvia or Fire Protection Engineering, please get in touch here.