Merging passion and leadership

Breaking down barriers and fostering a culture of growth and development is Rear Admiral Rachel Durbin’s vision as the passionate new Head of Navy Engineering.

CAPTION: Incoming Head of Navy Engineering Rear Admiral Rachel Durbin speaks with colleagues at a transfer of authority ceremony at Campbell Park in Canberra. Story and photo by Petty Officer Jake Badior.

“Every day I am in awe of the tenacity, talent, commitment and dedication of our people and that inspires me to do better with them and for them,” she said.

Rear Admiral Durbin wants to encourage and empower her workforce to take initiative, lead and contribute in ways they may not have thought possible.

“Every individual has the ability to perform way above their own expectations and I think I’m living proof of that,” she said.

Rear Admiral Durbin strongly believes in the importance of leadership at every level and said soft skills like knowing your people, understanding them and having strong communication are vital.

“Listening to and engaging our people and inspiring their performance in a way that they really, truly understand the value of their contribution is critical,” she said.

She grew up in the small country town of Tumut and emphasised the importance of people working hard at their passions to develop and grow.

“This is a job that I never thought of or dreamed of aspiring to. I thought that’s for someone bigger, better than me,” she said.

“I loved engineering science in high school, so I really wanted to pursue that. I just wanted to be an engineer.”

From the beginning of her career, Rear Admiral Durbin said she was embraced by the Navy’s mentor culture.

“Some of my most memorable moments are standing side-by-side with our technical sailors and engineers to solve problems,” she said.

“We perform best as a team when we bring together diverse thinking and people with different approaches.”

Rear Admiral Durbin reflected on how the broad fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have changed over time and what excites her about engineering today.

“What I like about STEM today is it brings a blended approach,” she said.

“Understanding how multi-disciplinary teams can generate new ideas and new ways of doing things or how the inventive mind can take a piece of technology and apply it in a different context in different ways is really cool.

“I think there’s a lot of imagination and creativity in the youth of today and in our people.

“I was never top of the maths class, I’m not that person, but if you’ve got a creative mind and if you’re persistent and you have enough knowledge, then you can do anything that you’re passionate about.”


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