Eglė Žižytė-Garrick
A Second Generation Achiever
Eglė Garrick at the Sydney
Harbour Foreshore Authority, 2005
Eglė Žižytė-Garrick is by profession a communications expert, but moved into management early in her career. She was born in Australia in 1953 of Lithuanian parents, who came to Australia as Displaced Persons in 1951. According to the NSW Government Publication of March 1998, The Changing Rōles of Women: Women in the Lead, Egle Garrick "had a fairly traditional schooling" in Australia. After high school, she studied at Macquarie University in Sydney, majoring in Early English for her BA degree. A few years later she studied History and Philosophy of Science for her MA. She also acquired a Diploma in Librarianship in 1974 and a Certificate of Transport Management in 1997. She graduated as an Australian Company Director, completing her diploma with the Australian Institute of Company Directors in 2005.
"At the Helm" during the Sydney Olympics 2000
Eglė Garrick has made her career in the Public Service and explored its manifold opportunities and pathways. Her first role was in the ABC as a legal clerk, followed by a period in the Ethnic Affairs Commission of NSW, and a parallel role as a researcher with SBS television, for which she researched a number of programs, including one detailing the history of the Ethnic Communities Councils in Australia. At this point, she was successful in becoming a NAATI level 2 qualified interpreter in the Lithuanian language and fitted in court and hospital interpreting assignments in her already full work life! She was a speech-writer on the NSW Premier’s staff for 2 years from 1986, and then worked in communications roles in the NSW Health Department and the Department of Planning. She joined the public bus and ferry company State Transit in 1993, as their Manager of Government Relations and Public Affairs and switched to managing bus operations - the first woman to hold this position in 1996. In 1997 she became General Manager of Sydney Ferries and joined the NSW Senior Executive Service. In this role, she also was the first woman. In 2002 she was asked to undertake a departmental review for the NSW Council on the Cost and Quality of Government and spend 6 months reviewing the operations of the NSW Heritage Office, before moving to the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority as Executive Director in 2003.
With Valdas Adamkus, President of Lithuania,
during the Sydney Olympics 2000
At the moment Eglė Garrick is working as Executive Director, Corporate Services, but has recently spent time as the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. In her current role Eglė is responsible for managing the financial affairs of the Authority, which owns over $1.5b worth of assets in the Sydney CBD and is the CBD’s second largest landowner. She is also responsible for the planning assessment function of the Authority, which assesses over 500 development applications each year in the Rocks, Darling Harbour, Pyrmont and Kings St Wharf. Her other areas of authority include information technology, human resources, contracting, procurement and learning and development.
Eglė has recently been asked to join the Planning Advisory Committee of the Faulty of the Built Environment at the University of NSW. She is also a member of the International History Planning Society and has given many presentations and papers in diverse forums and conferences.

The following interview conducted by Isolde Poželaitė-Davis with Eglė Žižytė-Garrick was held in Sydney, on July 18th, 2005.

I.D.: Congratulations, Eglė! You have a very impressive C.V. in academic and career fields. How were you able to achieve so much and to manage a family with two children?
E.G.: My qualifications are very broad and so I have always looked extra hard for opportunities for advancement - I think that were I qualified as a teacher, lawyer, doctor or engineer, I could have foreseen a predictable career path, however with my "generalist" degrees, I have needed to seek opportunities where others would have rejected them. When I went into bus operations, for example, many people may have wondered why I was interested in this - but I saw that I had the possibility to make my mark in a non-traditional area and could be competitive. The same happened to me when I went to manage ferries. The job there was very tough, union based (I had 3 maritime unions, the CFMEU, the AMWU (at our shipyard) and the ASU) and it was a difficult blue collar male environment - of my 450 staff, 94% were male. I thought, if I can succeed in this tough environment, I can succeed anywhere. As it turned out, it was a difficult role, with many industrial conflicts, but I was "at the helm" for the Sydney Olympics and that was a very great period. The Lithuanian president, Valdas Adamkus, was one passenger I took great care of during that time! My philosophy has always been to take risks, and not be afraid to move out of your "comfort zone". I also now spend a lot of time mentoring and guiding other staff to help them move forward.

Kaunas Castle May 2005
I.D.: Being bilingual and studying languages at secondary and especially tertiary levels develops in people lateral thinking abilities and gives them an insight into other cultures and the way other people think and act. It is also an invaluable tool furthering communication. Has the study of languages benefited your career?
E.G.: I studied French and German at school and am amazed I still retain so much in my memory of both languages. Being Lithuanian is much more than speaking Lithuanian though; language is but one dimension of ethnicity and it is this "ethnicity" that has given me both perception and identity. Being Lithuanian has allowed me, although born here, to identify with another culture, love music unfamiliar to those not of this culture and to be part of something which is beyond the everyday experience. When I travel to Lithuania now, I can talk about the changes in culture, in the built environment, and in the landscape that I have personally witnessed since my first trip there in 1974. This gives me a unique insight, and because I am not there all the time, I can clearly see how things have changed, how political change has impacted on that community.

I.D.: Transport Management Urban Planning and Development and Heritage Preservation seem to be the spheres of your endeavours and achievements. However, I believe that you are writing bilingual poetry? When did you first feel the urge to express your thoughts, feelings and impressions in verse?
E.G.: I haven’t written poetry for a long time, but I love words and greatly admire people who are creative and write well. My poetry era was probably assisted by my love of English literature and my studies in that area at university. I look back at my poems from that time though and they still have meaning for me. Perhaps "the muse" will return!

I.D.: Creative expression runs in your family. Your mother, Elena Jonaitis, has written two books: "Elena’s Journey" in English and "Likimo blaškomi" in Lithuanian. Your son Louis is a budding pianist, your cousin Rimas Kabaila has written five books on Aboriginal history. Any more artists in your family?
E.G.: I am surrounded by talent! My brother is also a gifted and highly original teller of real life stories - his accounting of his first trip back to Lithuania is fascinating (if a bit hard to decipher, as he even has his own spelling!). My older son Matthew is also a gifted writer and is studying creative writing at university, while my younger son Louis is a young modern composer of note and my sister has always drawn, painted and designed. So amongst all of that I am happy to be the one creative in the way I manage people and run organisations - organisational skills have always been my creative strength!

With Algis Vyšniūnas, Dean of the School of Urban
Planning, Gediminas University of Technology, Vilnius,
with a height study model of Vilnius
I.D.: A short while ago you went to Lithuania to gives lectures at the Gediminas University of Technology in Vilnius. Could you briefly describe their subject matter?
E.G.: I spoke to the faculty and students about how planning strategy and instruments are required for the redevelopment of former industrial land, using our work in Pyrmont as an example, and I gave a second paper on the adaptive reuse of heritage industrial buildings, looking at the Australian Technology Park and the White Bay Power Station. These issues were very pertinent in Lithuania, where the reuse of both industrial buildings and industrial land is a very big issue, as the landscape is littered with disused Soviet industrial installations.

I.D.:(a) Did the work you do in Australia resonnate with your audience in Vilnius, Lithuania?
(b) Have you made plans to give more lectures and talks in Vilnius?
(c) What were your general impressions of the country and its people on your sixth visit to Lithuania?

E.G.: My talks were of great interest and this is why I‘ve suggested a follow up visit next year, when I‘m planning to take a group of architects, town planners and urban designers who can run a series of workshops for the faculty. Ideally, I will be looking primarily for Lithuanian speakers, but I will take some English speaking professionals as well.
Having seen many changes in Lithuania from my visits in 1974, 1978, 1979, 1990 and 2001, I was almost unprepared for the huge impact of leaving the Soviet system and joining the European Union - the built environment in particular has changed dramatically; skyscapers in Vilnius, change to standard gauge on the main rail link to Kaunas; renovation of the railway stations (well overdue!) and the general smarting up of the streets and buildings. In 2001, the "sparkle" had only happened in Vilnius, by now you can see physical changes in Kaunas, Klaipeda, Palanga. I already have enough material from this visit to prepare a publication on these changes.

I.D.: Would you like to add anything else from your lectures abroad - perhaps in other countries?
E.G.: I have enjoyed work and travel experiences and so have attended conferences in Malaysia, Spain, Toronto as well as in various parts of Australia. I am very interested in fine art, particularly Dutch art of the 15th century and so I love to include work with visits to see these wonderful works - I have been known to slip off to Europe for a week to, for example, Belgium, to see Jan van Eyck‘s great paintings in Bruges and Ghent! This gives me the greatest pleasure and I am lucky to have both a very understanding and supportive family and to make work opportunities to allow me to this a few times a year. Certainly, I have been richly blessed with my heritage and my work experiences, and I am grateful for the opportunities which have come my way!

I.D.: Thank you, Egle, for the interview.

Isolde Poželaitė-Davis AM