Shine a spotlight on - Lilian Lee

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m originally from Hong Kong, my husband and I moved to Australia back in 1995. Like most parents, we spend our time taking our son to his various activities and sports. Gone are the days when weekends involved short sightseeing trips around Australia.

I’m also a structural engineer. I knew I wanted to be an engineer from a very young age. I love buildings and knowing that I have contributed in such a way.

Is being an engineer what you’d always wanted to do?

The reason I decided to become an engineer is an interesting one. I was at school and didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. My parents suggested engineering. They told me that people will always need a roof over their heads so I’d always be in a job. I’m so glad I listened. The payoff is being able to show my son the buildings I've designed and then seeing them come to fruition. It makes me extremely proud.

How did you start out at Northrop?

I was looking to move closer to home for work and saw the position advertised. As soon as I walked into the old historic building on Hickson Road, I liked it. The office was open plan, and the interview was casual. We spent half of the interview talking about our children and the other half discussing the buildings on which I’d worked.  I was very keen on getting out on site and working on a variety of projects, and Northrop could offer me that. I began my career at Northrop in 2002, and I haven’t looked back.

What are your impressions of Northrop?

It’s all the intangible qualities of Northrop that make it the perfect place for me. The fact that I’ve always got access to the senior people when I need them has helped me in my development. It’s the mutual respect, the support and the culture. We have a highly collaborative culture, both internally and externally. I enjoy the time I’m given to get to know my clients. I love understanding their needs and working closely with them to solve their various project challenges.

What sort of work are you doing these days?

At the moment I’m working on some large multi-disciplinary projects. I like collaborating with all disciplines. I also work with the principals on building relationships with developers from China. I can help bridge the cultural gap and its work I really enjoy.

What would you say to women looking to begin a career in engineering?

Don’t be scared. It might be a male-dominated industry, but that’s not to say we can’t do things just as well, if not better!

Lilian is a structural engineer and an associate based in Northrop’s Sydney office. You can contact her on +612 9241 4188 or

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