Why did you want to work for Orica?
I did work experience with the company as part of my degree and really enjoyed it. I found that the company’s operating principles were strongly aligned with my own – such as being aware of the environment and the local community. The company is global, so there are opportunities to work overseas and in a diverse environment, but it’s also an Australian company, which was a big plus. Having the head office in Melbourne also meant a potential for exposure to senior leadership and strategic business decisions, which I wouldn’t get if the company were based in another country.
What do you do?
I’m in charge of the process team at Orica’s specialty emulsifier plant. We make emulsifiers for a range of applications, primarily as a raw material for creating technical explosives for the mining industry. So we make sure a plant’s operational process is running safely and efficiently. We also do strategic process reviews, which include looking at what products we will need to make in the future, how we are going to make them and what changes we need to make to accommodate that.
Because I’m at a smaller site, I am in charge of the control systems. And I also look after the graduate and work experience students below me – mentoring and giving them work to do is a part of my job as well.
How does the grad program work?
It includes three rotations, often in different locations, which take a year to complete. My rotations were in Melbourne, at a chloralkali plant in Laverton, in Newcastle at an ammonium nitrate plant and in Brazil, reviewing the potential to increase the production rate at an explosives plant. The Brazil rotation was particularly challenging with a new language and culture to learn on top working with highly sensitive material – which meant that technical accuracy and effective communication were essential.
Grads are generally assigned projects by their on site boss. Usually it’s pretty high-level, with a lot of support and guidance to help manage having responsibility for your own work.
The roles are generally quite different, which provides a wide range of experiences. From the company’s point of view it’s not as cost effective in the short term to have people move around so much, but it’s really about investing in the long term and allowing the people to decide where they fit in the company.
Best aspect of your job?
Everything here is so different. One day I might be troubleshooting a problem, the next day I could be meeting with contractors to look at an upcoming project. So it’s never boring.
What do you want to do in the future?
A lot of the things I had on my “to do” list when I finished uni I have already done, including working overseas in Brazil – which was at the top of my list. Having had the opportunity to manage graduates, I would like to take on more of a site or senior leadership role in the future. There are so many opportunities here, I don’t have anything in particular in mind, but I’m keeping an open mind.
Any tips for graduates?
Develop the skills that employers are looking for, such a leadership and communication skills, which can come from playing sport, having a part-time job or getting involved with groups at uni. Often it doesn’t matter if you have the highest scores in the world, you don’t have the skills.