Manager Business Performance - Chemicals
Our Manager Business Performance – Chemicals reports to the Chief Operating Officer and provides support to the chemical businesses to achieve their objectives. This is achieved through identifying opportunities to optimise existing processes and practices, providing technical and strategic support on operational and project related matters, and evaluating business growth opportunities and the application of new technologies.
Describe your experience and what brings you to where you are now.
My journey started when I graduated from Curtin University with a degree in Chemical Engineering and got my first job here at CSBP working on the ammonia plant. It was an operational role within a team of people who were responsible for the operation and the optimisation of the ammonia and ammonium nitrate facilities. I continued in this role for a period of time and learnt some key fundamentals about what it means to be an operational engineer along the way.
How have you progressed in the company? Describe your journey.
After a period of time in an operational role in the ammonia / ammonium nitrate business, I moved into the sodium cyanide business where I took on a Technical Superintendent role. This role was more of a blend of engineering, people management and leadership. This was new territory for me, and I learnt some terrific things in that period of time.
From there, I took up the Production Manager role in sodium cyanide, a role which I held for about four years.
I then moved into a business development role where I was responsible for commercial matters; completing due diligence investigations across the whole company, rather than focusing on one business unit.
Following this, a great opportunity came my way with CSBP announcing it was going to expand its ammonium nitrate facilities at Kwinana, which included building a new ammonium nitrate plant. I got involved in this project from a very early stage, and was involved in the feasibility, approvals, engineering, construction and commissioning.
Today, I am in a business improvement role, applying the 25 years of experience that I have gained at CSBP across all of our businesses to ensure they are able to achieve their objectives.
How has CSBP helped you achieve your career aspirations?
CSBP has helped me in many ways to achieve my career aspirations, though I think the biggest help has been the company and management providing me with countless opportunities to apply and challenge my thinking. In an organisation of this size, there are no shortages of challenges; being able to face those challenges and go into uncharted territory has really helped my development.
In addition to this, I've had access to formal training opportunities throughout my career, both internal and external. I think being part of the Wesfarmers Group is a big factor as well, having exposure to some of the most senior managers and executives, including in a mentoring capacity.
What has been your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement to date would be the success of the Ammonium Nitrate Expansion Project that I was involved in, simply because of the sheer size of it. It was a capital expenditure of around $550 million, the largest expenditure for CSBP in its history. The project also involved a significant number of stakeholders, both internal and external.
Being able to deliver on that project, whilst keeping it under budget, on time and safe (over a period of around five and a half years) was a really big achievement, and something I am really proud of.
How important has innovation and continuous improvement been throughout your career at CSBP?
I think continuous improvement is a really important part of what I do in my job, and what everyone at CSBP does. We work in a competitive environment, in a global economy and so if you’re not continuously improving, then your competitors are sneaking up on you; so it’s a big part of what I do.
I’ve seen lots of examples of innovation at CSBP, often through necessity. For example, when a production plant is shut down or a piece of equipment is not working correctly and you need to fix the situation, but it’s not a problem you've faced before, coming up with a solution to the problem normally draws on innovation - it never surprises me, the brilliant ideas that people come up with when you sit them together and work on a particular problem.
How would you describe the culture at CSBP?
I’d describe the culture at CSBP as one of achievement, so trying to do the right thing, the right way for long terms success, and not short term focused. I think it’s a safe environment, so it’s ok to speak up and speak out and the executive leadership team always have a listening ear to hear what the employees are saying. I think there’s a level of transparency that runs through the business, so that people are aware of what’s happening. It shows that there’s some integrity within the organisation. Finally, it’s a great place to work, it’s fun to be here and the people are friendly; it must be good, I’ve been here for 25 years!
What advice would you give to someone who may just be starting out in their career?
The best advice I can give someone who’s starting out in their career is to really have a plan or some objectives about what they want to achieve, and work towards it. I think that’s been my motto throughout my career: to make it happen and not wait for other people to do things for you - to be on the front foot. Additionally, I think it's important to share your objectives with your supervisor or manager and even the peers around you, so that people have some visibility on what you want to achieve.
And of course, nothing comes easy, so work hard and live your dreams.
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