To commence our celebration of International Women’s Day 2022, we begin our series of profiles of notable women in Defence and science by introducing Jasmine Riddle from JRS Manufacturing Group.
Jasmine is well-positioned to understand the significance of the #breakthebias theme that International Women’s Day has adopted for 2022. With a career beginning in the Royal Australian Navy, Jasmine is now the owner-operator of a steel manufacturing company in a traditionally male-dominated industry.
Jasmine has experienced first-hand the challenges that women have historically faced and embraced them with vigour. Her enduring approach has been to adopt each obstacle as an opportunity to learn and grow and to forge a pathway for women in the industry.
We spoke at length with Jasmine about her career to date, contributions to the Defence industry, and the future for women in Defence and science.
Getting to Know Jasmine Riddle
What are your current roles and responsibilities?
Chief Operations Officer – Systems, Strategy and Business at JRS Manufacturing, in Toowoomba, Queensland.
What are your career highlights to date?
Hands down my Royal Australian Navy service – for all it’s good and bad. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
What are your strengths, and how have these affected your career to date?
Perseverance, passion, and determination. These attributes have enabled me to always get the job done. Jobs that are tough, outside my capabilities, over long periods or that are tainted with the ‘but you’re a woman’ stereotype.
I’m comfortable with being uncomfortable because I know that regardless of what happens I can deliver with these characteristics.
Do you have a favourite quote?
“The heights of great *men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-
(* insert woman where appropriate – sorry Longfellow!)
Can you share a quirky fact or piece of trivia that people may not know about you?
I love steel manufacturing because the smell of ground steel reminds me of life on a warship.
Involvement in Defence Industry
In terms of Defence, what are some of the innovations you are most proud to have worked on?
It isn’t a tangible innovation as such. The most fascinating, unpredictable, and rewarding advancement was to witness the human innovation of active theatre operations while serving (in the Royal Australian Navy).
Being part of pressurised decision making, critical actions and problem-solving under threat provided me enormous growth both professionally and personally.
I think we undervalue the level of sophistication – and innovation – of continually evolving ourselves to meet our environment.
Where do you believe Queensland’s defence industry strengths currently lie?
Industry’s ability to balance the need to perform and transform in order to meet the current and future demands of Defence (and more broadly Australian Manufacturing) is a clear demonstration of its sophistication and desire to deliver.
What opportunities do you see as a result of collaborating with QDSA?
Due to the ‘steel manufacturing process’ industry suffering heavily in the last few decades as work was offshored, it has been incredibly slow to fully integrate advanced systems into its business models.
Our business sees the QDSA collaboration as an opportunity to rapidly accelerate our understanding of automation, robotics, AI and beyond through its network of highly sophisticated members and projects.
What Alliance initiatives excite you most?
We are part of the GWEO AMC Enterprise and are keen to identify where our business can contribute to bringing to life such a critical sovereign capability.
Australian defence equipment and technology should be designed and made by Australians.
Do you have any predictions for the future direction of defence science innovation?
We already have an exciting glimpse, but I see the future being the automation of transport units, artificial intelligence, behavioural linking, responsive situation and decision-making intelligence – all removing the human risk from the battlefield or operation. These will transform how we are informed and act in hostile (simulated or real) environments.
Women in Defence and STEM…
What do you think is the biggest issue affecting women in Defence and STEM today and in the future?
That there is a limited source of truth around which organisations are ready and capable of offering flexible opportunities to women – this leads to women entering positions in certain industries, having bad experiences which further damage the industry and limits the growth of diversification for those organisations that truly seek the participation of women.
How do you juggle your family and work responsibilities and strike a good balance between each?
I’m not going to lie; it’s a circus!! When you put four kids, business ownership & life together, there is no secret sauce for success. I use the plastic vs glass balls mindset, and when it gets mental, I remember that I can have a bad day while still having a good life.
What unique perspectives/talents do you think women bring to the industry?
I believe that diversification of any kind will always lead to more robust and successful problem solving, and that’s a critical part of business and life.
Women specifically, though, deliver incredible leadership at any level. Our high collaboration capabilities, integrity, inspiration, decision making and change championship are clearly needed during volatility and uncertainty, as we adapt to new environments and circumstances. These skills are pivotal in this new business landscape.
2022 International Women’s Day
As a woman in Defence and STEM, how have you been affected by gender bias, inequality, discrimination, stereotyping or bias in the community, workplace or study?
I have had some uncomfortable moments both during my Defence service and even today as a manufacturing industry business owner that fall into all those behaviours. Why? Because for a long time these industries believed what they said and thought about women.
That said, there are many men who are working hard in their organisations, their homes, their communities – at all levels alongside women – to effect a change.
How has your answer to the previous question affected you and your career growth?
In the beginning, when I was young, it knocked my confidence. Only for a minute. Then I pulled on my big girl pants, put my hair in a ponytail and got on with achieving what I wanted. It was tough and sometimes I was let down by men who I thought would back me. In the end I learnt to back myself and anyone else who was up for a challenge so we could reach our goals.
How do you think organisations such as QDSA contribute to “Breaking the Bias”?
It’s critical to provide a platform and a voice for women to reflect, empower and generate momentum and drive to #breakthebias.
QDSA has created a way to communicate how important it is for everyone to understand that they are responsible for creating a world that is free of stereotypes and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, inclusive and where difference is valued and celebrated.
Women such as Jasmine are paving the way for the next generation of innovators. Industries such as steel-manufacturing for Defence applications are typically male-dominated and we applaud the efforts of people like Jasmine for their leadership and tenacity.
QDSA is excited to be involved in this new era that may even see a gender role reversal in many areas as progress continues!
Congratulations to Jasmine and her company JRS Manufacturing for their achievements.
QDSA Upcoming Events and Opportunities
QDSA has many upcoming events and opportunities, with more being added each week. Want to find out what is on the horizon? Check out our News section on our website here or subscribe to our e-newsletter here.
The Queensland Defence Science Alliance (QDSA) is a university-led initiative to grow and connect an agile Defence innovation ecosystem, leveraging Queensland’s strengths, to deliver trusted solutions to meet Defence requirements.