Out and About with Natalie De Silveira (Thomas 1998)
What has been your journey since leaving Santa Maria College?
I graduated from Santa Maria in 1998, and I always favoured the humanities subjects, English Literature, History, and Art. I went on to study law at UWA. I practised law for a number of years in Perth, working in litigation, projects and construction law in national law firms including Blake Dawson (now Ashurst) and Phillips Fox (now DLA Piper). Later in my career, I moved to the Pilbara and worked on the Woodside LNG Pluto project onsite in Dampier. I eventually moved back to Perth and started a family. I worked part-time for Horizon Power as an inhouse generalist lawyer before leaving to raise my children.
What has been a highlight along the way?
Re-joining the workforce after having my family, I wanted my next role to be about giving back to those in need and community engagement. I have always been involved with outreach programs, beginning with Young Mercies at Santa Maria. I was the inaugural Equity Officer of the UWA Blackstone Law Society, actively participated in pro bono work as a solicitor and later went back to UWA and tutored mature-aged indigenous law students.
Tell us about Lab61?
I am now the executive director of Lab61. Lab61 is a robotics training organisation based in O’Connor. Our aim is to inspire and educate the next generation of robotics engineers and actively target those currently underrepresented in Australia’s robotics and technology space, namely females and indigenous people. We run a suite of programs beginning with primary and high school-focussed Robotics Academies, our work experience program, Engineering School which facilitates internships and industry placement for robotics engineering university graduates, then post-graduate micro-credentials and awareness training. We work with the education sector, industry and government to create robotics and technology careers pathways. So although my start was not in engineering or robotics, my passion for giving back and creating meaningful employment for indigenous people led me to the robotics and technology space. And it would be great to see some Santa Maria students through our programs in the future!