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In Profile: Sharon Ross

Not only has Sharon Ross been the driving force behind the major redevelopment of Parkes Regional Airport but she has also shown outstanding commitment to the wider community.

In 2015, Sharon’s achievements were recognised at the NSW Minister’s Awards for Women in Local Government for her role as Manager Support Services at Parkes Shire Council.

How did your career in airports begin?

When I joined Parkes Regional Council in 1992 as a Secretary. From there I studied Management with CSU and Occupational Health and Safety which led to my first management position with pools, fleet and stores.

When the Airport Manager position became vacant it was decided to restructure internal staff and the airport was incorporated into my existing role.

What are some patterns you’ve noticed over the years about women at work and things they could be doing better to advance their careers?

When entering the local government workforce, a woman in a management position was rare. They were primarily clerical roles and I was a secretary – How things have changed over the last 24 years of my observations.

In 2015 I was lucky enough to be nominated and awarded the winner of ‘Women in Local Government – Non-Traditional Role – Rural/Regional’. Looking back four years later, it’s not that ‘Non-Traditional’ now.

Even though we are a small council compared to our city counterparts, nearly half of our management team are now women. We have women in ‘traditional’ male roles such as engineers, labourers and works supervisors.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to leadership positions in the airport sector?

Don’t be shy. There are a lot of knowledgeable people in the aviation sector that willingly share their advice and guidance. Establish a partnership with the regulators associated with your airport – they are there to help not hinder.

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career that you apply in your day-to-day work?

Treat everyone with fairness, integrity and respect. Take your colleagues and staff on the professional journey with you to give them the opportunity to grow and be part of the business improvement and growth.

Do you have any other advice or thoughts to share?

Be part of a good network of like-minded aviation professionals to develop your knowledge and help them with theirs. Keep a healthy work/lifestyle balance – Work is work and home is home – your family will be grown up before you know it.

This article was written for the Australian Airport Association’s Women in Airports Network – an online community to support the advancement of women across all aspects of airport operations.

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