I come from a mixed background household, with a first generation Australian father and Indian mother. At school most subjects came to me fairly easily and I was also lucky enough to be reasonably musical and sporty too – but unfortunately this often meant I didn’t easily fit into one peer group. I was also a bit younger than the rest of my cohort which sometimes presented its challenges in the complex world of school society. I eventually found my place in Year 9, when I found a group of similarly minded peers, many of whom also pursued diverse interests, were incredibly social, but still placed a lot of value on school and achievement.
In my role as Program Manager at the Country Fire Authority (CFA) I manage both the Project Management Office and one of the largest projects at CFA. This project has a large and complex budget dedicated to improving the CFA’s service delivery to the community through the introduction of more fire-fighters, emergency appliances and new and modified stations. The role requires careful and robust planning.
Maths has equipped me to drive process-focussed problem solving while using my planning skills to break down complex problems and support organisational management of timely and cost-effective solutions. As well as research skills, my studies provided the scientific knowledge to communicate complex technical concepts and issues to broad audiences. These skills are critical when facilitating stakeholder brainstorming sessions or helping teams meet deadlines or goals through logic and organisation, rather than chaos. Maths is a fantastic base for so many careers, with the transferrable skills it provides.
Being younger and female in leadership roles has at times had its challenges, but I work hard to be recognised on my merit, and believe that my work will speak for itself. I don’t hesitate to put myself forward for something I am interested in – on the soccer field or in my career – I don’t mind what was done before me or what stereotypes I might challenge. I believe in trying to make everything I work on better than how I found it.
Cassie Pennicuik is a Program Manager at the Country Fire Authority, running the Project Management Office for their Service Delivery Directorate (Fire & Emergency Management) and the Major Project Portfolio of the Growth Programs.