The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better. 
People like Stephanie Ryan embody this.  
Stephanie is a Senior Forest Fire Management Officer in Emergency Preparedness for the Otway district. She is a mother-of-three young children and the team leader for emergency preparedness in the Colac area. 

“I found it is important not to get pigeon holed into a role and an area, and that at times you need to keep putting yourself forward as the right person for the job.”

Why do you think International Women’s Day is important, and what does it mean to you personally?
I think International Women's Day is important to acknowledge the achievements of females and valuable contribution we make in this world, especially in the areas where traditionally females have lower levels of participation. 
We have so much to offer, different skills and a different perspective on the world and in the field of fire and emergency management it is great to see females expanding their horizons. 

Who is Stephanie Ryan outside of the office?
When I am not at work, I am busy at home with my husband and my three young kids and my hobbies include spending time reading, walking, tennis, football and baking, as well as hanging out on the farm.  

How would you explain your job to a stranger?
Good question, I explain that I work for Forest Fire Management Victoria, and I am the team leader for emergency preparedness, ensuring plans, people and facilities are right to go before an emergency with the focus on fire management.   

Can you talk me through your journey to get to this point in your career?
I have a Bachelor of Forest Science and a Bachelor of Commerce from Melbourne University, and a Master of Commerce from Deakin University.  
I began as a Project Fire Fighter with department over the summer uni holidays before obtaining a full-time position as a Forest Planner. 
Early on in my career I predominately worked within Commercial Forestry, but I have been involved in projects covering recreation, roading, weeds and pests, strategic fuel breaks and forest management. 
In 2009, I moved into the Fire Manager position covering fire response and planned burning.  
In 2015, my position started to focus in on Emergency Preparedness.   
My fire and emergency role through this time has seen me move through the operations stream from a General Fire Fighter to an Operations Officer Level 2.  I also hold roles as an Incident Controller Level 2, Safety Officer and District Duty Officer. 

What are your goals?
My focus is currently on progression towards an Incident Controller Level 3 and I would like to be one of the first females within Forest Fire Management Victoria to hold this role in the state of Victoria.  

Do you have any advice for young women considering or currently pursuing a career in the fire management industry?
Fire Management is a rewarding and challenging career that can take you in a variety of directions. 
I found it is important not to get pigeon holed into a role and an area, and that at times you need to keep putting yourself forward as the right person for the job.

Page last updated: 27/07/20