07 Mar 2024

International Women’s Day 2024: Brooke Hermans

A passion for the environment has played a significant role in Brooke Hermans’ life and career – from her time at university to locations for family holidays.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Natural Resource Management) with Honours, Brooke embarked on a career in the public service initially working in the Victorian Government’s environment department (both in the fire sector and Landcare).

She then changed tack slightly with a 15-year stint in waste and resource recovery where she worked in education and as an executive officer of a former Waste and Resource Recovery Group in Victoria. From there Brooke joined a Victorian Catchment Management Authority as a manager before pivoting to private consulting in 2021 where she tried her hand at place-based community planning and community engagement.

“It was really lovely working in community engagement, but I realised those skills could be applied back in my old area of expertise. I could use the community engagement techniques I’d learnt in the social sector and add value to community engagement and facilitation in the environment, waterway and catchment management sectors. That tends to be my ‘sweet spot’.”

RMCG Senior Consultant Brooke Hermans.

Finding the ‘sweet spot’ at RMCG

Brooke joined RMCG in 2023 as a Senior Consultant, and she mostly works on environment projects in the areas of stakeholder engagement, facilitation and strategic planning.

A Victorian through and through, Brooke has lived in both the city and the country but now has her roots firmly planted in the historic town of Eldorado in the state’s north-east.

“I feel so lucky that I can work remotely. I’m here for my kids when they leave for school in the morning and when they come home, but I do travel occasionally for projects or to visit other offices at RMCG,” she said.

“The way we work in multi-disciplinary teams means that I spend a lot of time with people, and because many of the projects I work on are based around community engagement, I talk to people a lot so I never feel isolated.”

In her short time with the business, Brooke has contributed to a variety of projects ranging from those involving agriculture industry workforce data to program design and evaluations.

“The staff at RMCG are wonderful to work with, and I love being able to bring a team with a breadth of expertise together to deliver something of high quality. I also really like being able to help clients, asking what they need and helping them to achieve their goals,” she said.

“I enjoy designing a process to give people a say in whatever issue we are working on. Their insights often help to plan for a better way of doing things.”

These stars have aligned in one of Brooke’s current projects which involves a review of the Victorian Landcare Facilitator Program. Brooke and a team at RMCG are leading the engagement activities which will feed into the broader review being conducted by the Victorian Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA).

“I love talking to Landcare, they’re so passionate about what they do and they’re coming from such a good place. They deserve all the support that we can give them, so it’s important to make sure their voices are heard.”

Brooke with her two children at Mount McLeod in Victoria. 

Navigating challenges and opportunities

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 – ‘Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress’ – examines the pathways to greater economic inclusion for women and girls everywhere. This includes equal access to education, employment pathways, financial services and literacy to build their capabilities and strengthen their capacity to learn, earn and lead.

Reflecting on this theme, Brooke acknowledges the support of many people who have helped her to make the most of opportunities that opened new doors in her professional life. Firstly, her mother, who modelled a strong work ethic as a single parent working six days a week to support her family, and later, her colleagues.

“I’ve had the benefit of participating in a number of leadership programs for women, with women, and I’ve learnt an enormous amount and built lifelong networks with other women leaders. Having that support from other women across Victoria has been hugely beneficial especially when you’re changing jobs or going through difficult times in your life, and I continue to draw on their support,” she said.

“The beauty of those programs is that you get to do some inner reflection, and really think about what you want out of life, not just your career.”

As many would appreciate, an ongoing challenge for Brooke is adjusting to the delicate balance of parenting and profession. It’s something that economic inclusion has made easier for Brooke, and underscores the importance of this year’s International Women’s Day theme.

“I’ve always re-evaluated my career to make sure that I’m present for my two children while still doing something valuable and contributing to my areas of interest,” Brooke said.

“I’m lucky that I have been able to work part time and take additional leave to spend time with my family. I feel highly privileged that I have enough economic stability to make those choices, but not everyone can.”

Looking back on her life and career so far, Brooke has simple advice for others: Look for job opportunities that you enjoy and provide you with purpose but still leave time to enjoy the rest of your life as well.

“You’ve got to pursue your interests and drive yourself to learn and try new things, but keep monitoring how you’re balancing that with your family and the rest of your life and when it’s out of kilter then think about making a change.”