Do you identify with a particular tribe or people?
Where did you grow up?
My first memories as a child were growing up in the North West of Western Australia in a town called Goldsworthy. From there we moved to Perth, then to Koolan Island, then we moved to Canada and finally back home to Perth, Western Australia.
School was always foreign to me, as I was always considered an outsider, I never fit in, in all honesty I hated school. Growing up in the 80’s, Australia was openly a very racist place. I think that environment shaped me and made me more resilient.
One of the most important stages of my life was being in a band called Downsyde. We got to tour Australia, playing festivals such as Big Day Out, Splendor In the Grass, opened for international acts such as Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, The Roots, Black Eyed Peas to name a few.
How did you get to your current job position?
I found out about the opportunity through the School Of Indigenous Studies - UWA. I was encouraged to apply. I applied and went through the formal process of interviews with a hiring manager and a recruitment advisor. It was grueling process and thankfully I was successful at the end.
I’ve been in this position for 11 months now.
Did you face obstacles as an indigenous student/graduate?
As I previously mentioned, I was always considered an outsider, so school was a foreign place for me. I always found school difficult.
So, growing up with that mindset from my school days, the biggest challenge/obstacle for me was getting over that mental barrier of, do I really belong at university. Going to university is the pinnacle of education, you’re with some smart kids, and it was daunting for me.
Luckily, I had the best support at university through the School Of Indigenous Studies, they helped make the transition to university life a lot easier, gave me the correct guidance and support. Without such a support network I wouldn’t have made it through.
How did you choose your specialisation?
No, once I decided to go back to university, I knew I wanted to be a chemical engineer.
What was your interview process like?
The interview process was tough. It had 3 stages, first there was an online recorded interview where I was asked prerecorded behavioral questions, and then I had 3 minutes to record my reply. You’re given a chance to practice beforehand of course.
After being successful in the first round, the second stage I was given a 20-page case study to read the day before the interview. The second stage was a 90-minute interview with a hiring manager and HR, where I was asked questions around the case study and again asked behavioral questions.
The third stage was an interview with the Process Engineering Manager and my future Superintendent. That was more of ‘tell us about yourself’, so it was a bit more relaxed but nonetheless important.
What does your employer do?
Put simply, Shell provides energy.
What are your areas of responsibility?
We provide engineering support to Operations. Operations raise engineering requests for changes to the gas plant, and our team must make sure they are safe to do so and then provide a solution on the best way forward.
Can you describe a typical workday?
My typical workday consists of going through a heap of Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams (P&IDs), going to the site to “walk the line” (so to speak), and understanding the process and all the different unit operations. I also have to make sense of what is on the P&IDs, so I go to the site to physically see what the symbol on the paper is.
My last project was assisting in removing a pressure hazard for the operators. It was to design and write a scope of work for a new location where the operators can inject lean TEG into the regeneration process.
What are the career prospects with your job?
To be honest, the career prospects are limitless, and it’s personal preference on where you see yourself in 5, 10 and 15 years, although I would like to be in a leadership role at some point.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I would be a musician.
What do you love the most about your job?
I love that I learn something new every day from various sources. I learn my trade, I learn from other engineering disciplines, I learn soft skills, I learn from great leaders and how they behave.
I don’t think of my work as a task, but an opportunity to solve a puzzle. And I love puzzles.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job?
Work can get stressful because you need to deliver, but being a graduate, you’re given some leeway.
The work-life balance is great. I live and work regional, so I get to be home every night with my family and that’s the most important thing for me.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to Indigenous students nearing graduation?