Meet Kelly Ji
Applying mining insights from Perth to Sydney
After working with Rio Tinto in Perth for the past five years, Kelly Ji now returns home to Sydney for the next stage of her career as a Senior Engineer with the WMS team. She shares her passions and motivations in the water space.
Kelly joins WMS with a wealth of mining experience nurtured during her time with Rio Tinto. Her work involved flood modelling, surface water management, sedimentation management, operational issues like stormwater drainage and impact assessments at heritage sites. Kelly dealt with mining sites at all stages of operation from conceptual studies all the way through to closure planning.
At Rio Tinto, Kelly dealt with mining sites at all stages of operation from conceptual studies all the way through to closure planning.
Kelly acknowledges that working in mining is complex as engineers are often balancing the needs of different stakeholders – both the mining company and the traditional owners of the land. But the role also gives her the “opportunity to shape the outcomes.”
Kelly explains, “You have the chance to put forward your own perspective. If in a particular situation, in your professional opinion, you see that it’s a really important site for traditional owners or for environmental values, you can definitely put that forward to the (mining) company. And in that instance, profit is not the highest priority.”
Since her early days, Kelly has always had a passion for the environment and sustainability. This pushes her to take a different perspective on her projects as she often looks for innovative solutions that balance practical needs and best practice. Water engineering has been the perfect field to apply her strengths. She recounts, “I’ve always been passionate about the environment, and hydrology as a discipline is a good balance of technical problem solving and the natural environment.” Her motivations and drive for her profession are clear. “My favourite projects have been the ones where I can see that meaningful value was delivered for the client and we’ve done something good for the environment as well.”
Working with WMS
When the opportunity arose to take up a position as Senior Engineer with WMS’ Sydney office, Kelly welcomed the move back to her home city. She felt ready for a change and wanted to spend more time with family. Kelly says, “I gained a lot of knowledge from working at Rio and I was interested to learn a bit more about what was happening in other industries because you can be very easily pigeonholed into something specific.”
Kelly looks forward to transitioning that knowledge of mining to WMS. She explains, “I’m looking forward to bringing WMS more into the mining industry. To get a few mining clients on board and deliver value in that space. And then also for myself personally, probably learn more about the other types of hydrology that are out there and get a bit more experience in East Coast projects.”
Travel and the role of water engineering in the future
When asked about her hobbies outside of work, Kelly immediately cited travelling as her current passion. She says, “I went to Europe earlier this year, and I was in Mongolia a couple of months ago.” Engineering is never far from her mind as she explores different built and natural environments around the world.
Travel has also made her think about the importance of water engineering and climate change. Kelly explains, “Climate will become more and more important for water engineers. Right now, a lot of what we do is based on what’s happened in the past. But I think we are now seeing what’s happened in the past may not necessarily be what will happen in the future. I hope we can continue delivering best climate practices for people.”
Besides travelling, Kelly also likes to unwind by pursuing creative hobbies. She lists pottery, gardening, and exploring different cultures through cuisine as loves of hers. Kelly says, “I like trying new things – new food, new hobbies. I think it’s good to have a balance. Balance is so important.”
No doubt, Kelly’s inquisitive nature and enthusiasm will be an asset to all future projects she works on at WMS.