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Meet Max Jamwal-Girdler from TMR


You might imagine that a career working in communications and a career working with high-tech automated vehicles would be two different–but very interesting–jobs. But Max Jamwal-Girdler has managed to combine the two in her role at the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).

What does your role at TMR involve and what are some of the joys and challenges of it?

As Principal Advisor (Engineering and Technology), I lead communication activities for TMR’s Cooperative and Automated Vehicle Initiative (CAVI) and the related projects including the Ipswich Connected Vehicle pilot, the Cooperative and Highly Automated Driving pilot and the Vulnerable Road User pilot.

In my time with CAVI I have loved learning about connected vehicle technology and how it will help to create safer transport in the future.

Tell us about a time that gender inequality affected you.

My adoptive father was diagnosed with bowel cancer so he took an early retirement from work while I was still in school. To avoid major disruptions to my education, it was decided I would go to a boarding school (which happened to be all-girls) in India.

The culture shock of moving from Rome (Italy) to India was hard enough, but the gender inequity I witnessed first-hand upset me. It never sat right with me that there were things boys could do which girls couldn’t, for no other reason than the basis of their gender. I chose to challenge every bias I came across and adopt a more ‘androgynous’ approach to life, which included changing my name to Max.

If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?

A very wise mentor, whom I met through our mentoring program here at TMR, spoke of staying true to their values. This set me on a path of defining my core values, understanding them and how they motivate me, then learning what actions help me fulfil these values.

Give us three fun facts about yourself.

  • As my adoptive father worked for the Food and Agriculture Organisation, we travelled around a lot, so I got to live in Syria, Lesotho and then Italy, where I lived until I was 18, which is why I speak Italian.
  • My grandmother was an Indian Maharani, and you can find our family genealogy online dating back to 1440.
  • As a teenager I got to play Trivial Pursuit in a team with Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst. I’d like to think I helped our team win!