Volunteer Spotlight: Clare Sheppard

Article by Staff Writer

Shining a light on the valuable work of IChemE volunteers

CLARE, you volunteer as a professional reviewer. Tell us a little about yourself. 
I’ve been working in process engineering design consulting for more than 20 years. I started out in natural gas processing, offshore and onshore facilities — mostly brownfield work on ageing facilities.

I was fortunate to work on a plant from front-end design, through commissioning and supporting the owner operator in the first 12 months of operation. I did some concept studies and some refinery clean fuels design work, trained as a HAZOP facilitator, and did some process safety as part of my role as a design engineer. I moved into biomass, and waste to energy in the last decade and have also performed many concept studies in hydrogen and low carbon fuels. I used to think of myself as a gas and petroleum design engineer. Now this has shifted to energy and energy systems.

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1999 with a Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science. I dabbled in the fermentation arts for a while and earned a Graduate Certificate of Brewing from the University of Ballarat in 2006. I am married to a piping designer, and we are parents to two children who are in the early years of high school.

What inspired you to volunteer for IChemE?
I joined IChemE as a student and became more involved when I was encouraged by the process engineering manager in my organisation. She felt it was important for our company to support the local group. I was on the joint Victorian IChemE/Engineers Australia Chemical College committee for about eight years, helping organise events while juggling the responsibilities of being a new parent.

It took me a long time to apply to get chartered - I find it easy to prioritise everything else over things that only benefit me. Once I was chartered, I started to support and encourage others in my organisation to do the same.

My friend and mentor asked me to volunteer as a judge for the state and national final year student design project prizes. An email asking for volunteers to help with assessing chartership applications prompted me to take the next step and I signed up to interview candidates.

The new professional reviewer volunteer role combines both assessment of the Competence and Commitment (C&C) report and the membership interview. How have you found transitioning to the new role?
I had only assessed one applicant for interview prior to the system transition. I remember being frustrated at the questions that had been left by the report assessor - I thought the candidate should have been asked to amplify their report and resubmit, rather than passing concerns to the interviewer. There was no communication with the report assessor, just a set of notes.

I think having the same two people assess the report and perform the interview is a much more streamlined method to determine if a candidate is suitable for chartered status. I have therefore found the transition easy.

I love meeting people working in engineering. I like to hear about others’ work experiences, their challenges, and achievements

How has your professional career and experience enabled you to contribute towards your role as a professional reviewer volunteer?
I have a broad range of experience in the design-side of engineering. I can understand almost any career anecdote or technical description and identify gaps and ask pertinent questions. The CV submitted with the report is also key to this. I am good at testing a candidate’s understanding of their role and I enjoy the opportunity to reflect with the candidate on their career to date.

What do you find rewarding about your voluntary role?
I love meeting people working in engineering. I like to hear about others’ work experiences, their challenges, and achievements. I also like working with other assessors - I feel that this helps me expand my own professional network and improve how I assess reports and interviews.

What advice would you give to anyone considering volunteering at IChemE?
Only take on a particular role for as long as you are still getting the personal benefit or reward out of it. Once you’ve exhausted it, it’s time for a new challenge. Take your skills and experience, add some new enthusiasm, and move on to something else. IChemE has so many different volunteering opportunities, there is something to keep everyone involved and engaged.

What one book about engineering or the profession would you recommend to readers?
JM Campbell’s books Gas Conditioning and Processing have proved very useful over the years.

This the 14th article in a series that highlights the variety of work done by IChemE member volunteers. To read more, visit the series hub.

Are you interested in becoming an IChemE volunteer? Volunteers help strengthen our community and it’s good for your CPD. To browse the latest volunteering opportunities, visit: https://www.icheme.org/about-us/people/volunteer-for-icheme/volunteering-opportunities/

Article by Staff Writer

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