International Women’s Day 2022 spotlight: Rebecca Brickhill, Saab Australia

Rebecca Brickhill is Engineering Manager – Underwater at Saab Australia and has been in the defence industry for more than 15 years.

Following completion of an undergraduate degree and Masters in Engineering, she worked in the commercial industry for a few years before applying for a role at Saab.

In her current role, Rebecca manages a team of engineers, as well as the outcomes and approval for Saab Australia’s Submarine and Underwater vehicle programs.

Ahead of International Women’s Day 2022, Defence SA spoke to Rebecca about her experiences building a career within a traditionally male-dominated industry.

What attracted you to the defence industry?

The scale, complexity and bespoke nature of the engineering problems Australian defence industry are facing.

What has surprised you most about working in the industry?

Two things:

  • The variety of defence product that is designed and built in Australia.
  • The strong collaborative culture that exists between organisations within the industry to enable us to solve the large and complex problems we are dealt.

What is your proudest achievement?

Being a leader in the A26 new build submarine program for the Swedish Navy.

This year’s International Women’s Day theme is #BreakTheBias. Did you/do you face challenges as a woman in the industry?

Yes, I think it is hard to avoid challenges when you are a different demographic to the majority of the people in defence industry engineering.

I think it is important to remind people when it is forgotten that diversity brings significant value, not just to engineering, but problem solving in general.

But also and critically, achieving this diversity requires flexibility in approach to ensure consideration and catering to the wider set of needs a diverse workforce brings.

Why would you encourage other women to consider a career in the defence industry?

The defence industry is growing and there are so many career opportunities and pathways available right now. This industry is a great place to build a career, especially in South Australia.

What advice would you give young women looking towards a career in the defence industry?

Women looking for a career in defence industry should reach out now and get started. If you are still studying, there are opportunities through scholarships and internships. If you have just graduated, there are fantastic graduate programs you can apply for. Finally, if you are looking at entering defence from other industries, there is support provided through defence industry bodies to bridge your skills or better understand where you fit.