Jessica Pritchard

The GiST chats to Jessica Pritchard about the endless career possibilities when you’re a problem-solver, the enjoyment she gets from knowing her work helps people, and why you should always ask questions.

What is your educational background?

I am passionate about girls in STEM and using mathematical skills in non-traditional areas such as mining and construction. I have a Bachelor of Mathematics, Bachelor of Arts, and a Master of Business Administration, all from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales.

Tell us about your job and how you got to where you are?

My job description has not ever been simply ‘statistician ‘or ‘mathematician’. Instead, I’ve been an analyst, demand coordinator, research officer, operations superintendent and customer service manager. None of these titles highlight my STEM education, but my career progression has shown that there are many opportunities and career paths available if you have a STEM background. After all, STEM is all about solving problems.

I am currently Senior Manager Customer and Network Coordination (North) at Transport for NSW. I manage the Northern Road network in NSW. My team works to reduce the impact of incidents such as car crashes, fires and floods on the road network. We are there to help drivers get through their journey as quickly and safely as possible.

Before that, I was Strategic Pricing Manager at WesTrac, NSW Caterpillar dealer working with large pieces of mining equipment. I also worked in Operations in the Hunter Valley Coal Chain.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

I have started doing the Couch to 5K (5 km) program, but have mainly done the couch portion. I really should get running …

I have two little boys, Henry aged six and Xavier aged four, who keep me busy outside of work. They love all things STEM including maths, dinosaurs and Lego! I am currently the under-6-age manager for Cooks Hill Nippers (Newcastle). It is a challenge but loads of fun to see the kids developing their skills in the water.

What are your long-term career goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years?

My longer-term career goal is to be a general manager in a place responsible for a broad range of activities, with a lot of variety and a lot of problems to solve.

I always come back to logistics and transport as part of my role, and really enjoy working on things that can help people. That is how I ended up working for the NSW Government. My current role means that I can affect people’s day to day lives in a positive way, and add value to the state’s regional areas.

What advice do you have for girls interested in STEM?

Just stick with it! Girls traditionally have less confidence in their ability on STEM subjects then boys, yet there is no noticeable difference between ability levels. So, you are no doubt doing great, and just don’t forget that.

Believing in yourself is so important, and if you have a question in class, always just ask. You can guarantee someone else will be wondering the same thing.

Want to hear more from Jessica?