What is a typical day for you?
I’m the Maintenance Superintendent, so I manage a reasonably large group of tradespeople and supervisors, and a few engineers as well. A typical day for me, is working with that group of people, coordinating work, making decisions where necessary and planning for the future.
Describe your background experience, and what brought you to where you are now?
My first degree was in Mechanical Engineering. When I graduated, I went to work in the chemical process industry. Since then all of my work experience has been in various chemical process industries, such as oil refining, mining and now ammonia / ammonium nitrate. I’ve worked in engineering roles, maintenance supervising roles and production management roles, so I’ve always worked in the field with the people operating and maintaining.
What attracted you to CSBP?
When I first applied for a role at CSBP, I had been out of the workforce for eight years, having children, getting a law degree and otherwise preoccupied. Once I was offered the role, the reason I accepted it was that the role needed someone that could drive improvement and help get a good group of people to an even higher level. I’ve always been interested in roles where you have to make changes to improve things.
CSBP is quite a flexible company, it’s not rigid, that means you can actually make changes and get things going, and so that was the real attraction. I’ve got a good opportunity here to improve things and be able to get better results out of an already good team.
How important is teamwork to the success of your area?
In my area, we’re responsible for 40,000 pieces of equipment, and we’ve got a team of 35 people, so teamwork is very important for us. There’s no way we can manage the volume of work and the complexity of decisions unless everyone knows what the game plan is and what they need to do. We also need to be each other’s safety nets, so if someone is overwhelmed or can’t quite get things happening or we’ve forgotten something, there needs to be someone there to say, ‘hang on a second, we need to pick that one up’.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement at CSBP has been inheriting an already good group of people and being able to listen to what their frustrations and desires to improve are, being able to support them and challenge them, get better plant performance and more control over what we’re planning and how we’re executing it and to be able to get a diverse group of people to work together effectively.
How would you describe the support you get from your manager?
I’ve got a very supportive manager, and I’m fortunate in having a manager who is experienced in production, but also has a background in reliability engineering and maintenance, so he’s got a really broad range of experience. His style is to say ‘this is the outcome I want and I’ll support you as needed, but it’s up to you to work out how to do it and make sure we get there’. For me, that’s what I like. I like to know the outcome required, and to be able to use my influence and ability to work out how to get there. Then whenever I ask for assistance, he’s got my back and he’s there to help out, so it’s great.
What advice would you give to someone who may just be starting out in their career?
I think when you’re just starting out, even though you’re not really that confident, you shouldn't wait for someone else to come and tell you what you need to do. You need to ask yourself: ‘What could be better?’ and ‘How can I make it better?’.
I also think, if you can, you should identify who the key 'do-ers' are, who’s really good at what they do, because if you can get that group of people to work with you, you’ve basically got a high performance team. You don’t need to wait until you’ve been a manager or a supervisor to have that, you can create that, and then you’ll make results happen. That’s the basis of being successful in your career and getting opportunities.
So, go out, think for yourself, conjure up some good ideas and make sure you’re working with the right people to get things happening.
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