This week, we say a final farewell to an extraordinary leader, and veteran of our business, our Mica Creek Power Station Site Manager, Paul Smith, along with several other members of our Mount Isa team.
Mica Creek Power Station was placed into cold storage on 1 January 2021, after supplying energy to the region for 60 years. The site’s remaining team members depart this Friday 2 July 2021, with three people staying on in cold storage roles.
Several Mica team members have also recently redeployed to our other sites, including to Stanwell’s Brisbane head office, Stanwell Power Station near Rockhampton and our Tarong power stations in the South Burnett.
Paul Smith started at Stanwell Power Station (SPS) in 1994, a whopping 27 years ago, as a fresh-faced Mechanical Technician, straight out of his Mechanical Trade apprenticeship.
Over the next 17 years at SPS, he attained his Bachelor in Engineering Technology, demonstrated impressive technical expertise and gained significant site experience which saw him promoted into a newly created Superintendent role for the Boiler and Fuel team.
Stanwell’s Chief Operating Officer, James Oliver, who recruited Paul into his first leadership role, reflected on Paul’s leadership journey in our business.
“When Paul first threw his hat into the ring for the Superintendent role, his interview approach was to say to me, ‘James, you REALLY need me.’,” James laughed.
“And it turned out we really did need him, and he was the best person for the job!”
Paul excelled in that role and in 2012 he was offered the opportunity to move to Mount Isa to work as our Maintenance Manager at Mica Creek Power Station.
Mica Creek Power Station then had 12 generators, comprised of seven different machine types. Not only was it a technically challenging plant, but its old age certainly added to complications, with spare parts hard to come by.
In 2013, Paul was appointed as the Site Manager of Mica Creek, where he took absolute ownership of the outcomes which had to be delivered at the site. Under his watch, the safety and reliability track record of Mica Creek was transformed.
Paul said one of the things he was most proud of was what the team at Mica Creek at achieved with the plant they had, given its age.
“We were working with technically unsupported plant, but managed to keep it going quite efficiently, and also extend many of the contracts we held in the North West Minerals Province,” he said.
“Make no mistake, the past nine years have been the most challenging in my career, but our team has built incredible resilience and we are leaving Mica Creek on a high – with our last days of generation last year some of our safest, most reliable and most efficient.
“I think I may actually even miss all of the challenges we faced as they often came with a silver lining – whether that was an opportunity to welcome new team members, build our resilience or learn better ways of doing things.”
James reiterated the transformation that has occurred at Mica Creek in the past decade.
“The Mica Creek team have experienced several hard knocks along the way, but they have always shown resilience and demonstrated a ‘keep on, keeping on’ attitude’,” James said.
“Paul is the ultimate perfectionist. I’ve watched him grow as a leader and he’s not only come to be admired by his colleagues, but respected as a community member in Mount Isa as well.
“In that first leadership interview, Paul said we really needed him. All these years later, I couldn’t agree more — we do need him — so he will be sorely missed.”