Got a story? We're telling 100, starting with 12 months on an Antarctic station - Women's Agenda

Got a story? We’re telling 100, starting with 12 months on an Antarctic station

We’ve set Women’s Agenda a bold task for 2015: to tell 100 stories of female leaders, starting January 1.

It was feeling pretty ambitious until I spoke with one of the women we’ll be including in the project, GHD senior environmental engineer Jacque Comery.

You see her 2015 plans are rather different. They involve meeting up with 12 people she’s never meet before, undergoing some intensive training, and taking a large boat to spend 12 months in one of the harshness and most remote places on Earth, the Australian Antarctic Station at Macquarie Island.

To put that in perspective, more people have summited Mount Everest than have lived on Macquarie Island.

Comery will travel to Hobart for eight weeks of training next year, before taking the journey further South to lead the research team on the World Heritage-listed environment site.

She was appointed to the role after undergoing one of the most extensive applications process I’ve ever heard of. It involved written applications, phone interviews, face-to-face interviews, testing and spending a week with the shortlisted candidates in Tasmania — living in what sounded like a school camp and being put through team-building exercises, problem solving, overnight hikes and emergency management.

She said when she first saw the advertised position, she could see similarities between the work she already does at GHD, it was just in a different environment.

With a very different climate.

“I prefer the cold to the heat. You can dress for the cold,” she tells me. “But weather’s weather. No amount of complaining is going to change it. You just need to change your attitude.”

Comery, who finished her environmental engineering degree at 32, appears to have always been able to adapt to new situations, teams and climates well. She sailed for eight months from Thailand to Indonesia a few years back, spent years working in ski fields in Australia and abroad and has always dreamt of exploring. Her advice to others is to not be afraid of a change in career direction.

In our 100 Stories Project we’re specifically asking women about a turning point that’s shifted her leadership career. It’ll showcase the diverse range of leadership careers available, as well as some of the brilliant achievements and fascinating career paths of women. It also demonstrates how planned and unexpected forks in the road can take you places you never thought possible.

You’ll hear more from Comery in January in the 100 Stories Project.

Got an idea for the 100 Stories Project? Let us know

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