Optical Connections Magazine Summer 2023



Marine Environment Specialist Dr. Lorraine Gray is considered an expert in her fields of marine biology and conservation and the impact of human activity on the marine environment. She has worked in government, various utility industries, has set up her own consultancy and brought up a family. She currently works for submarine fibre optic telecommunications consulting and project management company Pioneer Consulting. In this interview with Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes , Dr. Gray talks about her career development and some of the issues which, despite progress in gender equality, are still facing women who are trying to build a career in technology.

What is your current position at Pioneer Consulting and what are your responsibilities? I am currently Director of Permitting at Pioneer Consulting, which provides full-service

out there; the problem is that it’s usually left to governments to fund this kind of research.

sciences. Early on in my career, I developed a passion for spatial mapping and using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map marine features, so that industries such as cable, would have more certainty about where their development would be successful and where it would not. Marine conservation features and human activities such as fishing, are often in conflict with new developments, and this is what really fascinates me.


What has your career path been up to this point?



submarine fibre optic telecommunications consulting and project management. Since joining Pioneer in early 2019, I’ve guided survey and installation efforts for many submarine fibre optic cable projects, including trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific and trans-European. I lead regulatory and proprietary permitting for surveys and installations, in addition to acting as a liaison between local governments, organisations, and those who install the cables.

Doing a PhD is a great learning experience, because it allows you to develop key skills that you


don’t necessarily get in undergraduate courses. Those critical skills include presenting at conferences, which is normally left to the more experienced staff in a company; teaching, which is a great way to add to your stipend; and development of project and business skills. I had to apply for scholarships based on a proposal and this ultimately brought me to Australia for research! I then entered government work, where I learned to use GIS for urban planning. I then combined this skill with my academic background in fish ecology and commercial fishing -- that is how I entered the subsea industry. I’ve worked across most sectors, including oil and gas, renewables, aquaculture, ports and harbours, and more recently, cables. The beauty about a career in permitting and environmental consultancy is there are a

How do you think we can take subsea technology forward in a more sustainable and eco-


friendly way?

Emerging subsea technologies, such as autonomous survey vehicles, could accelerate


How did you become interested in marine conservation and the impact of subsea technologies,

progress towards sustainability. The output of these surveys expands our knowledge of what’s on the seafloor, which is translated into maps. I love maps, and we’ve seen over the past 10 years an increase in mapping platforms to expand our understanding of biodiversity and natural capital. We need more of this knowledge gathering to prevent harming what we don’t know is


in particular, cables?

My career began with my study of biology, which prompted me to question how society has


negatively impacted our planet, and from there I became involved in environmental


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023


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