Female Chair shaping the future of YPF

In this month’s Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) Q&A, the spotlight is on the Young Pipeline Forum’s (YPF) Chair Megan Le Bourdonnec.

Tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi, I’m Megan, I’m a cartographer and a mum of three and that’s pretty much my whole life. I joined Warren King and Company (WKC) in 2010, while studying cartography, the job was advertised at my university. Now 13 years on I’m still relatively in that the same job. Although the company has changed names a few times, and I’ve had a few different positions, WKC is now Veris Australia. I have been working with the same people for a long time, and that’s mainly the reason I stay, the people at Veris are great to work with.

As I was studying the job started out as only part time, one day while having a chat to the general manager he offered me a full-time position instead of continuing my studies. As I was a single mum at the time the idea of not studying sounded great, so I jumped at the opportunity.

Now I am the Drafting Lead – Technical and Pipelines. I am now the only pipeline drafter in Veris Australia.

I originally got into pipelines because of a mentor at WKC, Michael Arriotti, an old school drafter. He was seen as a grumpy old man who teased relentlessly all who tried working with him, but he took a liking to me. Because of that, I was able to work one on one and learn from his 30 plus years in the industry. That mentorship built out my career in the pipeline space.

What was your favourite project?

Originally at WKC we worked on pipelines all across Australia, so I can’t think of one specifically. The ones that stick out are because of the team and the client that I worked with. Having a strong relationship with clients and a clear scope allows you to get on and do the job to the best of your ability, it’s a real winner.

Recently, I worked on the East Perth Power Station (EPPS) Relocation project, with Enscope it stands out as an enjoyable job because of those guys over at Enscope.

Megan Le Bourdonnec.

East Perth Power Station – tell us more.

EPPS for myself was completed late last year, I believe the project itself is still ongoing, my involvement was part of the relocation of a gas line. There was some complexity to the project when we had to consider all the variables of going through a very built-up area in East Perth and the many other services that ran through the same area. But working with friendly, smart, and good people makes even the stressful projects worth working those extra hours and days to get the job done well and quickly for them.

What committee are you a part of and how did you go about it?

I got involved circumstantially when I came back from maternity leave in 2016, WKC had just been sold and was now on its way to becoming Veris. With the change in management, all the social clubs I had been part of historically had been dissolved. Wanting to still be a part of the social scene and I was looking for something to do to get out of the house and meet people.

I had attended Young Pipeline Forum (YPF) events previously as a guest of a previous WKC colleague so I knew they were a good time. I emailed Jeffrey Sneglar who back then controlled the YPF mailing list to see how I could join the YPF and perhaps help out with events.

James Matison was flagged about my interest, as he was the chair at the time, he was more than happy to assist and invited me to my first YPF meeting so yeah, that’s how I got into the community. Since then, I have also joined the APGA WA Chapter Committee at the bi-monthly meetings they hold with the YPF and I started volunteering for some of the APGA events they hold. Taking photos, greeting guests, that sort of thing helping out wherever I could. I officially joined in 2022 and sit on that committee as secretary.

How did you get involved and become chair?

I got more involved by attending the meetings, which are in themselves a bit of a social situation as well. Once a month we get out, have a chat. Over the years, I started doing more and more slowly everyone who had been there before me, running things, started to leave, James and Jeff left, eventually I moved up into the chair position. I’ve held the position of chair the last two and a half years.

Why the longevity, why stay so long?

I’m not an engineer by trade, but most others are, and I have been able to learn a huge amount that has progressed my thinking in this space. It is wonderful to get out and have an intellectual conversation, while getting to know someone new.

What do the committees offer as a budding pipeliner?

The YPF, it’s just a great way for young members to, especially when just starting out, to get them excited and interested in the industry and more involved. By being a part of the committee, even just the community of pipeliners sitting on that committee with you, you get so much from that you would not otherwise. Being kept up to date on what’s happening in the industry, knowledge and updates on regulatory and policy issues, and how changes in the industry affect you.

Do you do you feel that the being part of the committee’s has added a different dynamic to your career?

Yes, positive. Having this as an avenue in my career has helped me both with my personal development, pushing me out of my comfort zone.

Those that know me will understand how much I hate public speaking, and would rather much be in the background, being part of the committee has allowed me to develop that skill and while I still don’t like it, I am getting much better at it.

Being pat of the committee has also opened channels for me in my career, giving me access to people and organisations that I would not have had otherwise, especially on the East coast.

Most recently, internally my contribution through the committees has been noticed and my profile has benefited as a result of the work I have put in.

What would you tell anybody that’s looking to join a committee?

Do it! Come along to the meetings, volunteer to participate, learn from the experience. It has been a great benefit to me, even just the opportunity to get out of the office once a month and have an intellectual conversation with like-minded people

This article originally appeared on Australian Pipeliner.

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