Jolimont resident one of just 10 Australians appointed Companion of the Order of Australia

Erica Smyth has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours 2018.
Erica Smyth has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours 2018.

JOLIMONT resident Erica Smyth is one of just 10 Australians to be appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday honours.

She joins Dawn Fraser on the prestigious list, and is the only WA appointee.

“I’m just astounded that someone took so much time and effort to collect things and write such a wonderful submission,” Ms Smyth said.

Ms Smyth received her AC for eminent service to the community through corporate governance roles with charitable, medical research, higher education, nuclear scientific and technology organisations, to the minerals exploration sector, and to women in business.

She began her career as an exploration geologist; it was there the seed was planted for later ties with the boards of the Royal Flying Doctor and Diabetes Research WA.

“When I developed type 1 diabetes, I was working in Newman as a geologist and I ignored my symptoms and got very sick. The Royal Flying Doctor got me to Perth in time for treatment in 1974,” she said.

“I’ve always thought when organisations can do that, ultimately you need to put some effort back into them.”

Ms Smyth said at the start of her career, being a female geologist in a male-dominated industry made her stand out in the crowd.

“If you’re the only woman in the room, everyone remembers you. You hope they remember you positively and become your advocates later on,” she said.

Ms Smyth said she had started to see a shift in recent years on boards towards more female representation.

“It’s a challenge when you’re the only woman around the table, that’s just the way it works. But if you’ve got three, you’re a just a member of the board and the dynamics change,” she said.

This year, Ms Smyth will go back to her geology roots, working on the board of a research centre in deeper exploration technology and as part of the federal government’s Resources 2030 taskforce.

She said her AC recognition could not have been achieved alone.

“I’ve had a good life, and I’ve been lucky to work with some incredible people. This is a recognition of all the teams around me and everyone I’ve been with,” she said.

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