In the direction of advocacy

Lise Sperling the new AfPA
Executive Director for NSW and ACT, courtesy of AfPA

As the new AfPA executive director of NSW and ACT, Lise Sperling is looking to centre advocacy and partnerships in her work for the organisation.

Following a long career in the wider building and construction sector, she is excited to move into the flexible pavement industry and support the strong road, transport and infrastructure project pipeline and many opportunities.

After spending the past 20 years in a range of areas across the building and construction sector, Lise Sperling has taken on the role of AfPA’s new Executive Director for NSW and the ACT.

Over the course of her career, Sperling has worked in various leadership and senior management roles across all levels of government, private and not-for- profit sectors.

With a degree in Town Planning and a Master’s in Environmental Law, Sperling has a deep understanding of infrastructure and the current opportunity to build better.

In her role at AfPA she will be focused on effective stakeholder management and collaborative engagement to influence, add value, mitigate risk and deliver high quality results for the flexible pavement industry.

Roads & Infrastructure sat down with the new Executive Director to find out what drew her to the role and get an insight into her approach.

“In my last role in government I was responsible to oversee and lead New South Wales’ centralised natural disaster expenditure, policy and governance arrangements in the restoration of infrastructure affected by events like the recent flooding and fires,” Sperling said.

“I love being able to bring a table of people together and open up communication to resolve things quickly. I am passionate and thrive in collective and strategic thinking, problem solving and to maximise technology and innovation.”

This was the drawcard for Sperling to take on the role. In her work with AfPA she is hoping to increase the profile of the association’s advocacy and partnership work to help propel the industry forward.

“We need to increase the awareness and understanding of the industry. While road construction is arguably not sexy, our industry presents lots of creative, exciting and very interesting opportunities to contribute to the maintenance and delivery of new essential infrastructure assets,” Sperling says.

“Whether it be in a lab, on the field or the corporate environment, our industry has much to offer and support every aspect of our lives We have a skills shortage in our industry, and this presents an opportunity to attract some people who have been impacted by COVID.”

She says roads need to be seen in a more sophisticated way – as an asset, utility and tool that has extensive and critical value and importance to connecting local communities.

“In NSW we’ve got almost 130 local councils – I want to drive AfPA, industry and all levels of government to work together and harness opportunities. The industry is certainly well prepared and placed to be able to deliver local infrastructure, and I want to see this space grow.”

She says AfPA has an excellent reputation nationally and overseas and she wants to support and give greater exposure to the association’s technical capabilities by improving its advocacy work.

“I want to open up dialogue between the stakeholders and open doors to bring people together so we can work in partnership to deliver better technical outcomes for the flexible pavement industry.”

One the aspects of industry she is most passionate about improving is female participation, having completed her thesis on influential and iconic women in the infrastructure planning industry.

With the country in a state of COVID normal and stimulus flowing towards the building and construction sector there are plenty of opportunities for change.

Sperling says her focus is to advocate for an effective and strategic response to COVID and the efficient use of stimulus funding for our industry.

“We need to work together get the economy back up and running – we need to get jobs on the ground, starting with shovel ready projects and looking to new road infrastructure and maintenance projects across the State, our industry is well placed to make a meaningful contribution” she says.

“We need to be more systematic and strategic in our collective approach, industry is ready, willing and able – we want to continue to work closely with all levels of Government and deliver excellent services, assets and infrastructure across the country.”

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