Mr Paul Freeman
About the speaker
Our speaker today is Mr Paul Freeman.
Paul is the General Manager, Customer Services at Sydney Water.
He joined Sydney Water in 1978 and in a career spanning nearly 38 years, has worked in a number of positions including engineering, operational and management roles.
Paul is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Deputy Convenor of the Industry Advisory Network for the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at UTS; Deputy Convenor of the International Water Association Australia Branch Committee and Chair of the Committee of Management for the Critical Pipes Research project.
Paul graduated in 1984 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechnical) with First Class Honours and the University Medal from the New South Wales Institute of Technology (NSWIT).
It gives me great pleasure to invite Mr Paul Freeman to deliver the occasional address.
Firstly, Can I start by acknowledging the traditional owners on the land on which we meet the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and I pay my respects to the elders past and present. Can I also please acknowledge the Pro-Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, the Presiding Dean, distinguished guests, parents, partners, family and friends, and most particularly can I acknowledge all the graduates. What a fantastic achievement you have culminated in today’s award presentation, so I would like to give you my own personal round of applause. Well done!
It’s a great privilege to be invited to speak with you this evening, but it is also a great challenge. What can you say that can be lasting and memorable for you as you go and undertake your careers. So I have decided to start with a confession. My name is Paul Freeman, I am an engineer, I am a UTS graduate and I make a difference. So my challenge to you is what is the difference that you’re going to make? Have you even thought about where your career is going to take you? Have you thought about where you are going to contribute in life? How are you going to use the knowledge, the skills you have gained to engage in the conversation that needs to be had, to take us as a society where we need to go? You have got a rich pedigree to live up to.
There is a huge challenge ahead; I don’t have your answer, I haven’t written your story. That is something you are going to have to write for yourselves but what I can do is share a bit of my story. Now, like some of you will have had a deterministic plan laid out for you, you’re that kind of person. Well unfortunately, I am more of an accidental planning type of guy. I graduated in 1984 and at that same time, I was married that year, I had my first child that year, it was all a little bit too much but fortunately I had a great starting career with Sydney Water. I made a decision a long time ago, it is a decision that lives with me today and that was how was I going to make a difference, how was I going to contribute? So I can stand here today saying some nearly 38 years later and be confident that I have actually made a difference to your life if you live in Sydney. I have been a key part of a big team at Sydney Water that brings you some of the best quality water in the world, that brings you some of the best sanitation services in the world, that we underpin the public health of this city, we underpin the economic growth of this city and I am really proud to say that I have made a difference in helping to bring that to you.
But it is not only in that dimension that I have made a difference. I also recognise that because of my skills, my learning, my abilities, I am able to make a difference in other communities, in other spheres and other sectors. So I have got involved in the water association around Australia and I have tried to make a difference there, a difference in the engineering space, asset management space, the maintenance space, the water quality and public health space. To try and ensure that those communities can benefit from the learnings that have occurred in Sydney Water, the learnings that I have gained. I have also joined the international water association so I can spread the message even wider and contribute to these conversations on a global scale.
I also was fortuitously invited to substitute for my boss at something called the Industry Advisory Network at UTS and I jumped at the chance and it has probably been about 8 or 9 years now that I have been on the Industry Advisory Network and I am contributing to each one of you. I am helping the Faculty to shape better outcomes for students, better outcomes for research, and a more sustainable and growing UTS. It really gives me great pleasure because being a graduate and an alumnus of UTS that I feel that I can contribute back to where it actually started, where my thoughts and my threads of how I was going to make a difference, where it came from.
So again I come back to my challenge to you. How are each of you going to make a difference in this world? You are going to have to find your own answer. You are going to have to find the right path way for you, whether it is deterministic or accidental but what I could leave you with is that please take on that path way with energy. Take on that pathway with humility but most importantly take on that pathway with passion. Leverage the knowledge that you have had and passionately pursue your dreams because they can become a reality for you and you like me can look back on your career and be totally satisfied that you could not do any better. Go out there and make a difference.