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Nichole Kelly

Manager Strategy and Planning
Planning water supply and sewerage infrastructure for the next 30 to 50 years.
Water and Waste
Urban Utilities
Job Level
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About me

  • International Experience
  • Regional Background

I am currently the Manager of Strategy and Planning at Urban Utilities. However, I never really knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Taking the advice of my Mum (“Uni is hard, study something that you’ll like”) I chose to study sports science and health promotion, working at the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast while I completed my degree.

This connection to Tourism sparked a rewarding career in business management, marketing and communications. As the General Manager at one of the largest tourist attractions in Queensland, I had some of the best fun in my career, opening an icecream factory and a cooking school and helping to establish the Sunshine Coast as a leading food destination.

Looking for a new challenge in my late 30s, I became a mechanical engineer and am now leading a strategy that will reshape our drinking water supply in SEQ Queensland and help protect this beautiful part of the world from the impacts of climate change.

After many years I now feel like I have finally found my place in the world and I love the work that I do and the people I do it with, and it really feels like I am making a difference.

And with that sports science degree...I am still happy to give my Mum advice on building strength and flexibility; can lead a super-tough ab workout; and have learnt that no study is ever wasted. What I learned in those early years are still some of the skills I rely on everyday. 

About my role

  • Creative
  • Curious
  • Independent
  • Intuitive
  • Passionate

This role leads the development and implementation of Urban Utilities’ Servicing Strategy, a 30-year transformative strategy that is reshaping the water cycle in South East Queensland.

Tasks that this role performs are:

  • Leading the maturation and operationalisation of Urban Utilities’ Environmental Leadership strategic goal through which Urban Utilities is playing a lead role in understanding and enhancing waterway health in South East Queensland;
  • Transforming Urban Utilities’ infrastructure and investment planning using a bespoke hybrid of complex problem-solving methodologies to develop TOTEX investment packages that deliver integrated solutions on a catchment-by-catchment basis;
  • Developing practical collaborative planning agreements with State and Local government authorities to overcome jurisdictional constraints and deliver better community liveability outcomes through the land-use planning value chain; and
  • Driving economic and environmental regulatory transformation through strategic engagement, collaborative partnerships and evidence-based approaches to negotiation.
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  • Bachelor of Applied Science
  • Bachelor Engineering (Mechanical) Honours
  • IAP2 Australasia’s Certificate in Engagement


  • Queensland Tourism Award - Product Marketing
  • International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) Organisation of the Year


  • Soccer
  • Travel


  • 3 Dog
  • 14 Chickens

15 year old me!!

“Try not to choose only the things that make you feel safe. You’re very capable, have so many strengths and will be absolutely passionate about every job you have. And don’t worry about being fired, there’s something better just around the corner!”

My career journey

Curious to know how I got here? Here’s a snapshot of my career pathway.
  1. Started career in Tourism
  2. Landed promotion to General Manager
  3. Made redundant (twice!)
  4. Trained as an Engineer
  5. Joined water industry and transitioned career to infrastructure planning

My employer

Urban Utilities is one of the largest water distributor-retailers in Australia, supplying drinking water, recycled water and sewerage services to a population of more than 1.5 million in South East Queensland.