Bhanu Sharma finished her Waikato University engineering degree and found herself spoilt for choice. On the same day, within ten minutes, she was offered two jobs (in the same company but at different sites) and a place at Monash University in Australia to study for a PhD.
She chose one of the jobs, which came with company car, phone and laptop. Sharma is now working for Sita Environmental Solutions in Melbourne which takes care of and recycles organic waste for the northern region of Australia’s second largest city.
Her Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree was in Biochemical Engineering and included a practical component where she worked at Fonterra in their Te Awamutu waste management plant.
“Definitely my degree and the work experience would’ve helped me to secure my new job,” says Sharma who applied for the job online from New Zealand. “My job title is technical supervisor, so I’m dealing with any technical problems the site is having. The main job deals with analysing the soil and compost and getting them up to Australian standards. I have to ensure that the site is running under occupational healthy and safety standards, carry out risk assessments and ensure all operators on site follow proper procedures.”
She says she’s learning a lot on the job but her degree has set her up well. “I think because my degree gives a taste of all the engineering disciplines I can also apply my chemical engineering knowledge as I go about my day to day work.”
Sharma is Indian by birth, coming to New Zealand about seven years ago, completing her secondary schooling at Rotorua Girls’ High School before enrolling at Waikato University. “Girls are definitely in the minority when it comes to engineering. There were five girls in my year and 70 boys. But I wanted to show that girls can do anything. Waikato was great because my lecturers and the work placement team took a real interest in my progress and that was a real plus.”
She originally enrolled in a Bachelor of Science and did some engineering papers for interest, but she found she liked engineering best and changed degrees after her first year. Her brother Nalin is enrolled in his third year of mechanical engineering. She’ll be catching up with him and other family members when she returns to Hamilton briefly for graduation next month.