Anna Madarasz-Smith is Senior Scientist – Coastal Quality at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.
What do you do on an average work day?
I look after the monitoring and investigations programmes that help us to understand how the things that we do on land affect our coastal and marine environments.
My days are vastly different and that’s probably why I love my job so much! One day I may be out trekking through an estuary collecting water quality, sediment and biological samples, the next at my desk, then perhaps a different day spent at a national workshop helping to develop tools that will help us to manage our coastal areas, and then another dressed up to present to a Council meeting!
What did you study at school? And after high school?
At school I studied the typical subjects: maths, biology, chemistry, English etc. I think it’s really important to keep taking maths and science at school because, no matter what you choose to do after school, if you have maths and science you have options. After school I did a Bachelor of Science majoring in biological sciences and minoring in animal behaviour and psychology. I took a break and went on my OE and then came back to do a Master of Science in Environmental and Marine Sciences.
Was your study directly related to what you do now?
Pretty much. My study was around biology and, in the later years, sustainable resource management of biological resources. I am really passionate about making science mean something, making sure that the science we generate is used to make good decisions about our environment.
What would you like to share with young women who are thinking about their career choices right now?
Make sure you do something you love. You are going to spend A LOT of time working so make sure it’s something you enjoy. You don’t have to make a career decision right now (in fact it’s probably best if you don’t!), but keep up the subjects that will keep your options open. If you keep up your maths and science you can do anything from beauty school, film or TV, to engineering, medicine, or science.
What are some of your career highlights so far?
My career highlights are both the things I get to experience and the gains I can make in terms of keeping our environment healthy. I worked for NIWA in Nelson on mussel farm impact assessments and working in the Marlborough Sounds was amazing! You’d often be so engrossed in your work and you’d have to look up for a moment to take in the spectacular beauty of the sounds. With the regional council, I really love getting to put science up in front of decision-makers at hearings. I also love being part of national project teams that try to solve problems with good science.
Why do you believe engaging in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) – whether it’s working in the field, studying it or just educating one’s self around the issues – is important to New Zealand?
New Zealand is an amazing place to live where we can experience our natural environment in everyday life. We need to understand our role in the environment and our impacts, both good and bad, to ensure that our children and their children get to enjoy the same lifestyle that we do.
Why is it important to have more women working in STEM?
Women can be under-represented in these fields. This has implications for role-modelling which perpetuates this, and for engaging women to follow their passions. Women can also offer different skill sets that may act to complement or provide novel solutions to problems.
Anna Madarasz-Smith is Senior Scientist – Coastal Quality at the Hawke's Bay Regional Council.View all profiles