Emma Milburn Optimistic by Nature

"People make me feel optimistic."

That's what Emma Milburn told me.  

leading 1200 members, including me.  She is the Marketing and Partner Director at Iota.

Emma joined me in conversation at The Centre for Optimism.


Victor Perton: "Emma, what makes you optimistic?"

Emma Milburn: "I think I'm quite optimistic by nature – not where I don't anticipate less than ideal things happening, but where I generally think 'everything will be fine, until its not, and when it's not we'll deal with it.' The we is very important – I think being surrounded by the right people and finding the tools needed to work things out is critical. No one does things alone, so I guess my optimism is less about me and more that I'm comfortable asking for help and confident that I'll find the right people in whatever situation. I'd probably put that approach down to my childhood and upbringing."

 Victor Perton: "What makes you feel optimistic?"

Emma Milburn:  Not surprisingly, from what I just said - People make me feel optimistic – so many people are working towards great outcomes and trying to do good in whatever aspect of their lives they can.

 As you’ve recently said, the conversation on climate change could use some optimism; from my perspective in the water industry, I feel really optimistic that a whole industry (along with others) is collectively working towards a water-secure future. With Knowledgeable, diverse, curious and passionate people working towards a better future for tomorrow while critically not taking their eye off today.

An example of this is how the industry tackles the adoption and deployment of technology with a long-term view and in a measured and responsible way to ensure we aren’t solving problems today that will cause more problems in the future.

That’s why I’m so realistically optimistic about water being an Industry of choice for emerging leaders - the opportunity for the next leaders of our industry to leverage their skills and training to help drive sustainability in what is quickly being considered the most critical resource - water. We need great minds (diverse minds and voices) and innovative thinking across the industry to ensure we can adapt to the impacts of climate change and secure water for the long term. The passion and altruistic nature of people in (and joining) our industry fills me with great optimism. 

 Victor Perton:  Who have been the positive leaders in your life?  Bosses, colleagues, family and friends?

Emma Milburn:  I’ve been lucky enough to have several positive leaders throughout and across different aspects of my life - on reflection a few things they all have in common is:

  • Respect and ability to build trust
  • The belief that people are more than their current situation or current role
  • Confidence to promote others and their ideas

  Victor Perton: Tell us more about your role as Victorian President of the AWA.

Emma Milburn: The pleasure I have as the president is bringing the fantastic committee together to drive the AWA strategy in VIC through events and connecting water professionals across the state. 

Connecting with Partners and members across the state - hearing what we, as AWA, can do for our members and the industry. 

With Ozwater coming to Melbourne in 2024 it’s an exciting year, and we look forward to helping highlight our members and the great work they’re doing and the people that work working within them. 

 Victor Perton:  What are some of the brightest stories out of the water utility sector?

 Emma Milburn:  There are great stories in the water utility space all of the time; a couple of examples are as mentioned before, the adoption and at-scale deployment of innovation to support the industry in meeting macro challenges such as climate change, population growth, ageing assets and customer expectations.

Utilities focus on reconciliation with traditional owners to jointly foster meaningful relationships and deliver shared goals of protecting and preserving our water resources for future generations.

And a general focus on nature-based solutions, combining technology and nature to create sustainable solutions that deliver the best outcomes for the environment, communities and customers.


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