Nicola Daaboul’s introduction to asset management came when, as a young technical officer at the former Shire of Eacham council in North Queensland, her boss gave her IPWEA’s “Black Book,” the International Infrastructure Management Manual.
“He put the IIMM on my desk and told me to read it cover to cover, and then get started on reviewing and updating the WASP and SAMPs,” she says.
Daaboul had just graduated after studying science and majoring in archeology, and suddenly found herself in at the deep end making decisions on asset management. She completed the 2007 NAMS program which provided her with a foundation knowledge and appreciation for asset management in public works. Fortunately for her, and for the people of Eacham, she quickly acquired a feel for it.
“Everything I have done has been because I’ve been really interested in the subject, and I’ve become passionate about asset management,” she says.
“My particular interest is in in helping communities look after their infrastructure and plan intelligently for the future.”
After Eacham, which is now part of the amalgamated Tablelands Council, Daaboul worked at Cessnock City Council, and then Bankstown City Council in NSW and completed a Masters in Infrastructure Engineering and Management at Monash University.
While working and studying, she also became involved with IPWEA and chaired Young IPWEA in NSW and Australasia before joining the NSW Board of Directors.
Her works has been recognized with several awards, including the 2016 Ministers Award for Women in Local Government in NSW, and the 2015 IPWEA NSW David Abbott Award Young Engineer of the Year Award
“I didn’t really know much about local government until I landed in it, or public works and I wasn’t aware of it as a career path, particularly for a woman,” Daaboul says.
“It can be quite tough, for young professionals working in regional areas and those environments can be challenging”.
“So when I started to acquire more senior roles I wanted to make sure I could lead by example, so that’s why I continued to study and got involved with IPWEA so I could continue giving back in this space.”
Today, Daaboul is director of client services at asset management software provider Brightly, formerly known as Assetic. It is a role which enables her to continue her commitment to improve asset management practice, which she advocates at the same time as recommending the IPWEA Asset Management Pathways program to both staff and clients.
“There is an increasing gap in our industry in regards to skilled asset management practioners and I see industry bodies like IPWEA having a key part to play in closing those gaps”.
Daaboul continues to encourage her team to engage with IPWEA’s programs as a way of enhancing their skills and making their services more informed and relevant to the asset managers who are Brightly’s Clients.
“Our team might have backgrounds in finance, but pursuing the pathways courses gives them those building blocks and the knowledge which helps them become better practitioners in the asset management area, and use the knowledge they acquire to better service their clients,” she says.
“It’s a really good place to start to build knowledge. It’s a good foundation for consultants and also for asset practioners to build upon.
“Brightly provides a combination of software and consulting services, so its about helping an asset practioner service the client better because it’s not just about crunching the numbers, its about understanding the numbers in a particular way and that can help them stop and think ‘hang on, have I thought about what I’m hoping to achieve? and will this get me there?’”
Brightly’s software aligns with IPWEA’s approach of taking a sustainable and holistic approach which drives end to end asset management. Around 75% of the clients are in the local government sector, while others come from infrastructure agencies such as rail, ports and airports.
“I see an industry shift in regard to asset management, our clients and this industry is shifting with a need to mature and become more educated,” says Daaboul.
“Alongside that you have legislative and Government changes, and I’m hoping this will lead to a complete step change which is going to drive this agenda and make better and more holistic asset management practice an important priority for infrastructure agencies, that is why education and pathway programs are vital.”