More powerful together

8 March 2019

International Women’s Day celebrates how far we have come and how far we have to go to truly achieve gender equality.

For this year’s International Women’s Day, hear from several women from across Stanwell’s sites to learn more about their career journeys, the opportunities they’ve had at Stanwell and why a diverse workforce is important.

Diversity and inclusion is an important part of shaping Stanwell’s culture and how our workplace operates. A diverse and inclusive workforce ensures people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, ages, genders and sexual orientations feel they are treated fairly and have opportunities to contribute their talents.

Kelly Thompson | Environment Graduate | Swanbank Power Station

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role?

I am an Environment Graduate at Swanbank and started in January 2018. 

What did your career path involve to get there?

Out of school, I studied Applied Science (Forestry) and worked as a Forestry Overseer for a couple of years, before having three boys in three and half years.  Life for the next 20 years revolved around school timetables and holidays, so my career was ‘on hold’ during this time. BUT, I was lucky enough to live in Woodgate National Park for nearly ten years while my husband was the Ranger in charge there. It was here where my passion for understanding and finding solutions to the impacts humans make on natural resources really developed.

With the boys almost out of high school, I decided to formalise my passion by studying Environmental Science at Central Queensland University full-time.  I graduated in mid-2017 and I was very excited to secure the role of Environment Graduate at Stanwell in January 2018.

Have you faced any challenges in being one of few women in your industry?   

As one of maybe three women working for the forestry service in a non-administration role in the early 1990s, I will never forget when one of my supervisors took me aside on my first day as a Forestry Overseer at a new location and informed me that women should not be in forestry!!  It left me feeling depressed and frustrated that the career I had trained for and enjoyed, was going to be very difficult to continue with. Fortunately, not everyone in the organisation had the same attitude, but it left me wondering how any woman was going to progress in that kind of work environment.  

Why do you think it’s important to have a diverse workforce?

An ecological monoculture is not a healthy environment – biodiversity brings sustainability… ask any environmental scientist! Gathering people from diverse backgrounds and personal experiences can result in practical, creative solutions for any problem. It just makes sense!

Jennifer Tarr | Market Policy and Regulatory Strategy Manager | Brisbane Office

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role? 

I am the manager of Market Policy and Regulatory Strategy. My team has three roles:

  • To advocate for efficient wholesale electrical and gas market policy;
  • To provide research and advice on market policy matters such as carbon policy, battery integration, etc.;
  • and To ensure compliance with our trading and retail obligations.

I am also Chair of the Australian Energy Council, Wholesale Markets Working Group which I have been doing for nearly two years.

What did your career path involve to get there?

I have been at Stanwell for 10 years. I spent the first five years as a forward trader, trading electricity and environmental products. The second five years, I spent in an advocacy role as Market Regulation Specialist. Prior to this, I worked at the original Energy Australia in Sydney as a Trading Analyst. I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and am a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA).

What challenges have you faced throughout your career?

Balancing full-time work with young children. I am very grateful for the flexible work arrangements offered by Stanwell.

Why do you think having a diverse workforce is important?

A diverse workforce means a greater variety of ideas, which leads to better results.

Leonie Sandell | Station Support Officer | Mica Creek Power Station

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role? 

I’ve been a Site Support Officer at Mica Creek for about four years, after working in other roles here since 2006.

What did your career path involve to get there?

Originally from Brisbane, I relocated to Mount Isa in 1998 while working for Woolworths. After nine years with Woolies, I saw the job advertisement for an Administration Trainee at Mica Creek.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to change up my career path. Luckily, I got the role and after completing my traineeship I stayed on at Mica Creek. I previously organised training sessions, assisted with collating and writing operator training manuals before becoming a site Security Officer. As our site downsized over the years, my role and work load evolved in to what it is today, a Station Support Officer.

When I was younger, I honestly never thought about wanting to work in the electricity industry and I really didn’t know what path I wanted to take.  But, as it turns out it was a great move, and I’ve been lucky enough to work with so many great people.

The importance of diverse workforce

Being one of few women in this industry, I feel fortunate that I haven’t faced too many challenges. At our site, I feel we all get treated the same and work as one team up here.

Liz Beavis | Operations Manager | Tarong Power Station

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role? 

I’ve been the Tarong Power Station Operations Manager for just over a year.

What did your career path involve to get there?

I studied Chemical Engineering and went straight into a PhD looking at coal gasification reaction rates. I then got a role as a consultant engineer working with power stations on greenhouse emissions calculations, and had the opportunity to work with the team at Tarong Power Station. I applied for the Performance Engineer role when it came up in 2009 and spent four years in that role.

I then worked for Origin Energy for two and a half years, in both the generation and oil and gas parts of the business (doing greenhouse emissions and efficiency). I missed Tarong Power Station, so I came back here in the Performance Engineer role in 2016. In that role, I spent a lot of time with operations, so I was able to act in the Operations Manager role and then get the role full-time when it became available.

What challenges have you faced throughout your career?

While an engineering degree has prepared me well for technical challenges, it has been more difficult for me to adapt to the politics of working in a large organisation. Engineers tend to want to give accurate and precise answers without considering the audience. I’m getting better at this! It also took me some time to realise that I didn’t need to wait to be given opportunities to demonstrate leadership, these opportunities are everywhere and everyone is a leader.

Why do you think having a diverse workforce is important?

The benefit of diversity in the workforce is working with people with different qualifications, professional and life experiences, and different ways of thinking, all bringing a diversity of ideas to problem solving and continuous improvement. You only get these benefits if you also have inclusion and everyone feels comfortable making their contribution to the team. I have enjoyed being a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and working towards increasing both diversity and inclusion within Stanwell. 

Annabelle Baker | Business Administration Trainee | Stanwell Power Station

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role?

I started at Stanwell as a Business Administration trainee in early 2019.

What did your career path involve to get there?

I have only recently finished high school and had a part-time job as a pharmacy assistant during my school years.

I decided to undertake a business administration traineeship to learn new things and develop a new range of skills. I hope to learn and develop over the course of my traineeship, while getting to know the team at SPS.

Jayde Smith | Health and Safety Advisor | Tarong Power Station

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role? 

I’ve been a Health and Safety Advisor at Stanwell Corporation for four years (including a Graduate role for a year).

What did your career path involve to get there?

I completed a Occupational Health and Safety Bachelors degree by correspondence, while working in Papua New Guinea in health and safety. Upon completion of my degree, I was given the opportunity to work for Stanwell as part of their graduate program. From this position, I have stepped into two more senior roles. I’ve also a member of the Tarong First Response Team for over a year.

What challenges have you faced throughout your career?

The field of health and safety is so broad and ever changing, particularly at Stanwell. There is always the challenge of keeping up to date and informed, so I can do my job successfully.

I’m also the health and safety lead for major overhauls at Tarong. Learning project management skills  and working in such a fast paced and dynamic environment has been great, but also a lot to wrap my head around!

Although I have many supporters and mentors within Stanwell, advising to a largely male dominated workplace (in the trades and technical roles) can come with its challenges; especially in gaining credibility and a voice at the table. This has greatly improved due to the relationships I’ve formed over the years and the work I’ve been involved in.

Why do you think having a diverse workforce is important?

I’m fortunate to work within an incredibly diverse team and this is our strength. We are able to share information and different perspectives, as well as collaborate to solve problems, be innovative and strengthen our skillset. Diversity frees us from ‘group think’, and in my opinion, that’s where we challenge for change and improve.

Tegan Duiker | Station Support Officer | Kareeya Hydro

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role?

I’m a Station Support Officer at Kareeya. I started in this position as maternity leave cover back in July 2012. I then became a full-time Stanwell employee and have now been here for seven years. 

What did your career path involve to get there?

I completed a Certificate III in Business Administration, which lead to a receptionist role at a local backpackers hostel. From here, I developed my skills to look after responsibilities including office management, accounts and payroll. I put work on hold for a little while, when pregnant with my daughter in 2010 and then in mid-2012 applied for the temporary role as Station Support Officer at Kareeya.

Have you faced any challenges in being one of few women in your industry?  

In a previous role, a boss thought the man I was working with was doing all the work, as he was staying back at the end of each day. I would leave at a reasonable hour and my boss had a go at me about not staying back late, like my team member. I had to point out to my boss, that perhaps my team member was leaving all the work until right at the end of the day and he wouldn’t allow me to assist him earlier in the day. My boss eventually came to understand and increased my responsibilities, as he could knew I could manage my time well. 

Why do you think it’s important to have a diverse workforce?

This is important, because different people bring different strengths to the business, due to their various background, race, religion and experiences.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I really appreciate that Stanwell understands the importance of encouraging employees to build strong working relationships across geographically diverse sites.

Karen Wall | Support Services Administrator | Meandu Mine

What’s your current role, how long have you been in that role?

I started working for Stanwell at Meandu Mine in October 2012.

What did your career path involve to get there?

At high school, I had my heart set on becoming a primary school teacher. Towards the end of Year 12 I was accepted into university, but due to financial reasons I deferred a year. During this year I commenced a career in the finance industry and worked for Westpac for over 13 years. I worked my way through various roles in the organisation, from a Bank Teller to a Home Loan Manager.

My career veered in a different direction when I had my two daughters (both who now work at TPS and Meandu and pictured with me above). I accepted a job in a local hardware store so I could still be a mum and work part-time to help support my family. This gave me so many career opportunities. I progressed through the organisation from a customer service officer to payroll and HR administrator.  

When I joined Stanwell in 2012, this opened my eyes up to a new world of professional and career driven women.  I am very lucky and grateful to work with intelligent, strong and  independent women at Meandu who support and encourage me.

A few years ago I was unsure where I would like my career path to lead. A female colleague encouraged me to do some further study, so I have now begun  studying a Diploma of Business at the University of Southern Queensland.

What I’ve learnt so far

So many women have to juggle home and work life. Pack lunches, do hair, drive kids to school, leave work when the kids are sick, do homework and  after school activities.

Women wear many hats especially in support roles. Over the years, I have felt these roles can be undervalued and women in these roles can often be overlooked for development.

Women in support roles are more than administrators and organisers. They are mothers, counsellors, nurses, teachers, event managers, budget directors, human resources, travel guides, record keepers, greeters and anything needed to get job done!  

Women bring so much to the workforce; soft and strong sides.

Women need to support women and help one another succeed. Small gestures and connections women have, can make a huge difference in the workplace.

By supporting each other we can achieve anything.

Kirstie Schumacher | Community Relations Advisor | Tarong Power Station and Meandu Mine

What’s your current role?

I am a Community Relations Advisor based at Tarong power stations and Meandu Mine. I’ve been working at Stanwell since September 2014 (when my daughter Grace was still in a high chair!). 

What did your career path involve to get there?

The two things that have led me to where I am today include hard work and living Mother Theresa’s words “do small things with great love”. Everyday you have an opportunity to make something happen, to show kindness to a stranger and to be the kind of leader that you would like to follow.

At 16, I moved out of home and was working part-time to finish my senior year at High School. University at that time was nothing more than a pipe dream, but a dream I knew someday I would achieve. What I have learned since then, is that there are some things you won’t learn at uni, and while all these years later I’m working on my degree now, it’s the hard lessons I have learned and the people I have met along the way who have helped shape my career.

I have been afforded many opportunities to have a go and to make mistakes. It’s these mistakes that I am most grateful for. Failing forward is not always easy, but I have consistently tried to make the most out of the times when things haven’t gone the way I had planned. These are the stepping stones that have made me a little more self aware and taught me a little more about who I really am.

Anything else you’d like to add?

For me, a diverse workforce gives us the freedom to be daring, to share our insights and use our voices. In this crazy world, I believe in curiosity and courage – and that these things are both critical and contagious. I believe we must be bold in our ideas and lean into full and thoughtful conversations.

I would like to thank the great leaders (those at the top and at the bottom of the tree), both male and female, from all walks of life, who have always given me the freedom to be daring, the license to ask the dumb questions, and most importantly, their time. It is this time in which I have derived the little nuggets of wisdom that continue to inspire me to be a better version of myself each and every day.

I believe in thinking big but starting small, being true to who you are, trusting your moral compass and living by your values.