Wellington woman first female chair of dam industry body

Wellington woman Rebecca Knott has recently become the first female chair of the New Zealand Society on Large Dams (NZSOLD).

Knott, General Manager of Dam Safety Intelligence, a subsidiary of Meridian Energy, is a civil engineer who trained at Auckland University and has been working on dam safety for 20 years. She’s lived predominantly in Wellington since 1997.

“It is a privilege for me to be elected as the Chair of NZSOLD,” says Knott, who has been the Vice Chair for the past three years and on the committee for six, and was the first woman representative on the committee.

“The diversity of our committee is increasing with time, which is a positive reflection on our membership and profession. We now have two women and three young professionals, all of which adds to the experience our older committee members bring,” says Knott.

NZSOLD is an industry body that promotes best practice for the development, operation, maintenance and refurbishments of dams in New Zealand. It is a technical society of the Institute of Professional Engineers (IPENZ).

In 2015 NZSOLD released the latest update of the New Zealand Dam Safety Guidelines, which draw on internationally recognised references and practices and facilitate the transfer of information among professional engineers and others involved in maintaining and administering dam safety in the New Zealand context. 

It represents New Zealand at the International Commission on Large Dams.

Women in engineering

Knott is General Manager of Dam Safety Intelligence (DSI), a subsidiary of Meridian Energy. Comprising of seven people, three of which are women, DSI punches above its weight when it comes to Meridian’s diversity stats. 

“Meridian has a goal of having 40 per cent women in senior leadership positions and technical roles by 2020 and it’s great that we can contribute in a meaningful way to that ambitious target.”

Women currently make up 33% of these roles at Meridian.

Newly formed, DSI is in growth mode and are hopeful that suitably qualified applicants for the positions will continue to represent the diverse range of people working in the sector.

Being a role model for young women considering their future is also important. 

“Engineering is a great career to get into and can take you anywhere,” added Knott. “The problem solving and analytical skills you learn open many doors, with a great mix of site work and desk jobs and ongoing learning and development throughout your career to stay on top of the latest techniques. It’s never dull!”

Friday 23 June 2017 is International Women in Engineering Day.

Dam Safety Intelligence (DSI) is a subsidiary of Meridian Energy Ltd. It provides independent dam management  expertise to dam owners in New Zealand and internationally.