Kicking goals on and off the field

 Kicking goals on and off the field: Natalie Devillers' transition from AFL Canada member to Australian based Environmental Scientist

Australian Football, commonly known as footy, may not be a household name in Canada, but its roots run deep. In 1989, a group of expat Aussies kick-started the footy journey in Toronto, and over the years, it has grown into something truly remarkable. Today, with 35+ teams, 1,000 senior members, 300 junior members, and over 20,000 children participating in school programs annually, AFL Canada has become a thriving community. This story spans two continents and intertwines personal growth and EMM's mission of creating opportunities

Discovering Australian Rules Football

Natalie's story begins in Montreal, a vibrant city known for its cultural diversity and dynamic atmosphere. Seeking a sense of community and a desire to try something new, she embarked on a journey that would change her life—Australian Football.

The sport, often referred to as "footy," may not be a mainstream choice in Canada, but Natalie found herself drawn to its unique blend of athleticism, teamwork, and camaraderie. It was a sport where inclusivity thrived, and the Australian expats were more than eager to share their passion with anyone willing to give it a try. Natalie sums it up the attraction of in 3 F’s of fitness, fun and friendships!

Quickly embracing the game, Natalie not only became an avid player but immersed herself in the AFL Canada community. She joined the league's committee, where her dedication and leadership qualities soon shone through. By 2022, she had risen to the role of president, a testament to her commitment and love for the sport.

A Chance Encounter with EMM

Natalie's path took an unexpected turn when she encountered EMM whilst playing Footy in Canada. The company’s commitment to making a positive impact in Canada intrigued her, and she became eager to learn more.

The initial connection between Natalie and EMM occurred when the company sponsored a women's tournament in Vancouver in 2022, called the AFL Canada Cup. This encounter led her to James Duggleby, EMM's Director in Canada, and ignited her interest in the company’s work.

EMM's partnership with AFL Canada goes beyond sponsorship—it's about creating opportunities and this alignment with EMM’s purpose was clear from the beginning. AFL Canada strives to make sports accessible to youth through mentorship programs, support women in sports, and instil valuable life skills through teamwork and coaching.

“I discovered EMM when they sponsored our women’s tournament in Vancouver back in 2022, said Natalie. “Given I work within this field, I was very intrigued to hear more about this new company in Canada and their associated project portfolio. After speaking with James Duggleby, I couldn’t wait to get across the pond and dive into this interesting and rewarding work.”

Transitioning to Environmental Consulting in Australia

Natalie holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master's of Environment in Environmental Assessment. Prior to EMM, Natalie worked for Weir Marine Engineering which is a division of Weir that is contracted to the Royal Canadian Navy.

“Environmental concerns have always been a passion of mine which ultimately led to a career in environmental consulting, said Natalie. “I enjoy working on complex large-scale projects, participating in interdisciplinary collaboration, and finding innovative solutions for clients and stakeholders.”

With her passion for the environment and a desire to contribute to meaningful projects, Natalie made a bold decision. She joined the EMM team as an environmental consultant, leaving behind her life in Canada to relocate to Newcastle, Australia. It was a significant transition, but one that she embraced with enthusiasm.

“Why wouldn't I want to move to Australia? This country offers nearly full-time summer (by my standards) and offers the unique opportunity to pursue some of my favourite hobbies all year round - sailing, surfing, playing AFL and just generally spending time by the coast in the sunshine with friends.”  Working in the Newcastle office, Natalie found herself surrounded by stunning ocean views and a dynamic team dedicated to environmental sustainability. Her daily commute, which had previously involved over an hour on public transport, transformed into a scenic 20-minute walk along the beach—an embodiment of the change she had embraced.

Contributing to a Sustainable Future

Not only is Natalie enjoying everything the Australian lifestyle has to offer and great football, but she has had the opportunity to work on some incredible projects.

At EMM, Natalie's journey has taken her into the heart of the mining industry and renewables sector. She's now an integral part of EMM's projects, including support for the largest renewable project in Australia, Snowy Hydro.

Her role as an environmental consultant allows her to combine her love for the environment with her passion for teamwork and making a difference. She collaborates with experienced professionals and contributes to projects that have a lasting impact on sustainability and environmental conservation.  


Natalie Devillers throwing AFL ball

Natalie Devillers
Senior Environmental Scientist

Photo Credit: Christopher Cuellar