Women leading and influencing



Nanise Kabakoro interns with leading Australian engineers

Monday, 9 November 2020

Nanise Domonatani Kabakoro says her confidence to influence sustainable development outcomes in Fiji is boosted after completing a work placement within a leading Australian engineering and environmental services organisation.

Over two weeks, the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) participant interned with Golder Associates to gain industry exposure and a deeper understanding of the Australian Geotech Engineering field.

Nanise says the experience enhanced her knowledge and leadership and networking skills, and reconfirmed her commitment to encourage other Pacific women to pursue a career in engineering.

Ensuring ‘climate resilient development’ in Fiji

Nanise is an experienced Fijian civil engineer who is interested in climate resilient infrastructure. She believes Fiji “exhibits a unique combination of geographical, biological, cultural and economic characteristics”, but says climate change has left it and other Pacific nations “vulnerable”.

“To ensure climate resilient development within my country and the Pacific region, I would need to ensure that I develop personal engineering excellence and leadership skills,” she says.

About the Golder Associates Work Placement  

To advance her skills, Nanise completed an Adelaide-based work placement in July 2020 – during a semester break from her Master of Engineering (Civil and Structural) at the University of Adelaide.

Nanise rotated between Geotech, Environment and Contamination, and Civil and Design teams to “maximise exposure to the different branches of engineering that existed within Golder’s”.

This included accompanying engineers to drilling sites to see how they’re set up, and receiving onsite training on borehole drilling for soil extraction and testing.   

Nanise learned how water samples are taken from ground wells for contamination testing, and “was given a real-life project to review and provide comments on”.

The placement also provided an opportunity to “apply the leadership training lessons” she learnt through the WLI program.

According to Nanise, Golder Associates’ clients represent the world’s major industries and drivers of development, including Oil and Gas, Mining, Manufacturing, Power, and Infrastructure.

Overcoming a ‘tradition of gender disparity’

Nanise’s long-term career goals include offering “engineering consultancy services for communal development” and contributing her expertise to projects that will empower women in engineering – both in Fiji and the wider Pacific region.

She is confident her experience with Golder’s has been “a step in the right direction” towards achieving these goals – including through increasing women’s presence in engineering, and building her confidence to establish industry connections.

“Women are often under-represented in the academic and professional fields of engineering, and leadership roles within the Pacific,” Nanise says.

Nanise believes her Australia Award scholarship and participation in WLI will help to “overcome this tradition of gender disparity”.

“It reinforces my beliefs that women of Pacific descent are able to compete and thrive within engineering or any other industry, it only takes self-belief and determination,” Nanise says.

Upon completion of her studies, Nanise will be the first woman of i-Taukei descent in Fiji to hold a Master of Civil Engineering.


Nanise’s work placement was secured with the help of her WLI mentor Ellen McInerney – an award-winning Australian qualified civil engineer. 

WLI Leadership & Mentoring program participants have the opportunity to work within Australian or Pacific organisations as part of the Women's Leadership Initiative. Through tailored internships, participants build leadership and professional skills and forge lasting partnerships and networks to support them into the future.

Find out more about WLI workplace internships.