Hover UAV founder Jackie Dujmovic proves herself in the male-dominated drone industry through innovation that has been picked up by the NSW government.

High flier: "I feel privileged that I can share my experiences with others," says Hover UAV founder Jackie Dujmovic.
High flier: "I feel privileged that I can share my experiences with others," says Hover UAV founder Jackie Dujmovic.

 Where were you raised and in childhood was there anything that guided you into your current work?

    I was raised in Kurrajong, NSW.  At the time, drone technology was considered fictional and purely a futuristic figment of the imagination. Today with the miniaturisation of electronics it is no longer fiction but reality. I have always had a passion for conservation and the environment which has led to this being the focus of Hover UAV.

 What did you do after finishing high school? 

Hospitality, starting at the Ritz Carlton before moving to Hayman Island. I then entered the global marine industry, travelling the world on many vessels for over a decade.

  Why did you start Hover UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicles?

Five years ago I welcomed the first of my two boys into the world. It was time for a career change after working in the global marine industry for almost 12 years. My desire to start my own business in the UAV industry was nurtured having a keen interest in technology.

 Do you build drones?

I haven't yet personally built drones that myself and my team use. However we are always looking at ways to enhance  and build components to improve these off the shelf options. One of these improvements was by inventing a shark alarm that is easily attached to almost any drone. It went straight into NSW state government trials and was deemed a success. This alarm is considered standard equipment for drone beach surveillance giving the operator the ability to give a real time alert to water users should the presence of a hazardous shark be identified.

 What does your daily role of director of Hover UAV entail?

It is varied. Always an emphasis on operations being carried out to the strictest of safety standards. Meaning a lot of liaising with government and regulators to ensure operations are carried out legally, ensuring compliance and operations are approved. The role calls for a certain amount of thinking outside the box. As new applications for the technology are conceived there is always a need to be adaptable to cater for new ideas and methods. This I consider one of the more exciting roles

 What sort of sectors are your UAVs being used in?

The sectors are growing each day. Drones are now common place in the construction Industry, scientific and research, agriculture, film,  TV, real estate  and emergency services.

 What are growth areas?

The aforementioned sectors. The next few years will be about looking to the future with autonomy and artificial intelligence.

Your point of difference?

Hover UAV is focused on how it can adopt technology to help people or the environment. Leading to Hover UAV being pioneers in shark surveillance, implementing new research techniques for use on whales and developing algorithms and detection methods of ocean plastics on our beaches.

 You are an instructor at She Flies. What is it?

She Flies is a program designed to get more girls involved in STEM. Australia loses female talent at every stage of the STEM pipeline despite no innate cognitive gender differences. She Flies is on a mission to address this problem. Through drone activities as diverse as aerial survey, obstacle courses, parcel delivery, creative art, and synchronised dance, She Flies hopes to empower young women into STEM careers. This I am very passionate about and bring my real life experience gained from Hover UAV to young woman mentoring and giving them the knowledge and experience to pursue a career in technology 

 You were the build manager for a 30-metre Nordhavn motor yacht and in the marine industry at length. What did you learn?  

  I was lucky enough to work for some of the world's most influential business people, politicians and inventors.  I learnt so much about people and business. Hearing about their beginnings and journeys really reiterated the fact that we really can achieve and do anything we put our minds to.This is  something I try to remember each day.  

Biggest challenges to your business?

Less than 1 per cent of commercial drone pilots in Australia are female. The UAV industry is male dominated. This has been a challenge however I am now feeling as if I am regarded as an equal. This has been through hard work and breaking down stereotypes.

Most rewarding bits?

Utilising technology for the greater good. Whether it is providing an ecological solution to shark surveillance or helping develop systems to detect plastics, the reward such projects provide is incalculable.

 Are you looking to expand the business from being Australian to global?

I have had quite a bit of interest globally in some of our products and methodology. So I definitely feel it will be a natural progression.

 You are a finalist in the NSW Business Woman of the Year. Do you see yourself as an industry leader?

I see myself as a trailblazer. With very few women in an industry that is new and dynamic, I feel privileged that I can share my experiences with others, empowering them to push forward with their own aspirations and follow their dreams.

I see myself as a trailblazer. With very few women in an industry that is new and dynamic, I feel privileged.

Jackie Dujmovic