PODCAST: Sydney Airport General Manager Safety, Sustainability, Environment Jane Rotsey
As a consultant early in her career, Jane Rotsey had the chance to be airside the day Prime Minister Paul Keating officially opened Sydney Airport’s new parallel runway.
It was a day that represented the beginnings of a long association with the airport over the course of her career.
Today, Jane leads the key portfolio of safety, sustainability and environment at the nation’s busiest airport.
She says those early days in the industry really shaped her career.
“The thing that I learnt most from that time was that major infrastructure can have a really big impact on people’s lives, both positive and negative,” she says. “It gave me a huge respect and understanding for the importance of transparency and openness and detailed communication with all stakeholders.”
Jane went on to work on major infrastructure projects, before joining Macquarie Airports (MAp), which owned a portfolio of airports and had just acquired Sydney Airport.
“I had the privilege of travelling around the world, going to those airports, listening to the challenges they had in those environments,” she says.
“Then after quite a long time I eventually, when MAp changed its structure, joined Sydney Airport in 2011.”
She’s since worked on strategic projects such as the airport’s master plans and the Western Sydney Airport transaction team, before being appointed to her current role of General Manager Safety, Sustainability, Environment in 2018.
“It was just really exciting because I feel so passionately about all of those areas and the impact that they have on our business and the aviation business more broadly.”
The new role brings together the three elements of the portfolio for the first time to elevate their focus in the business.
Jane said safety was particularly important, with more than 30,000 people working on the airport precinct and 44 million passengers passing through the airport each year.
“We need to have a culture that is just embedded with safety being our first priority,” she says. “We’re really looking at building a safety community right across the airport. A lot of the work we’re going to do we are going to kick off in the next few weeks as we head into Airport Safety Week, which is an exciting time.”
The airport’s five-year environment strategy is in place and the team is in the process of implementing its actions, working closely with airport tenants in the process.
But Jane says the biggest evolution could be found in the airport’s sustainability strategy, which is now focused on the three flagship initiatives of climate resilience, electrification of vehicles and equipment, and airspace and airfield efficiency.
With a significant agenda ahead, Jane says the “incredible melting pot” of a busy airport environment is part of the appeal of the role.
“It’s wonderful to just be part of that, I think,” she says.
“The management team we’ve got here is really focused on improving the customer experience, improving the airport, making it an airport we can all be proud of and it’s really just great to be part of that journey.”
Reflecting on her career, Jane says achieving the balance of being a working parent had been her biggest challenge, but she had seen the workplace becoming more flexible over time.
She encouraged those early in their career to put themselves forward for new opportunities.
“It’s really important to be brave,” she says.
“If you see something you’re passionate about, if you see something that you’re interested in, that you want to be involved in, ask to be involved.
“Don’t negotiate with yourself… just stick your hand up and say you want to be involved.
“My experience in the workplace is people respond well to that.”
Right now, Jane is looking forward to Sydney Airport’s upcoming centenary celebrations as the airport plans for another busy year in 2020.
“At the end of the day we are a community asset, we’re an economic asset and we have a lot to give and there’s a lot we need to do to keep making Sydney proud every day.”