A chef who hung up her apron to be a diesel fitter has been named Outstanding Tradeswoman/Technician/Operator at this year’s Rio Tinto Women in Resources National Awards (WIRNA) presented in Launceston last night.
The BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) diesel fitter Carolyn Dobson was representing the state after winning her category in the state awards run by the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) and Women in Mining and Resources Queensland (WIMARQ) in March.
Carolyn had a dream, and it was to travel Australia as a chef. However, the dream soon morphed into a love of all things mechanical when she started an auto-mechanic course to equip herself to fix her vehicle if it broke down in the outback.
After finishing some work experience with a local mechanic, in her home suburb of Redcliffe, Carolyn went back to the kitchen to finish her chef’s apprenticeship, but not for long.
“The more time I spent in the kitchen, the more I realised that it wasn’t for me, and I would much rather still be fixing cars. That’s when a family friend who worked for BMA told me about the apprenticeships that were offered every year,” Ms Dobson said.
“He was a diesel fitter at one of BMA’s mines and he would always tell me stories about the massive machinery that he works on every day. He encouraged me to apply for a diesel fitting apprenticeship with BMA and so here I am, working on the same machinery as him, the ones I thought I’d only ever hear about.”
Carolyn, who now calls Moranbah home, has encouraged other young women to take up trade careers, helping at ‘try-a-trade’ workshops focused on high school girls. She is the only female step-up supervisor in her area and is paving the way for other women.
“Being a step-up supervisor has allowed me to expand my influence more. I think this first step will open the doors for other females in our department to be given the same opportunity and not only become step-up supervisors, but become great leaders,” Ms Dobson said.
QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane congratulated Carolyn on her success.
“These state and national awards celebrate and showcase the depth of female talent in Australia’s resources sector. They provide our sector with outstanding ambassadors and mentors, particularly for their female colleagues, and women and students thinking about entering the resources sector,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“Diverse workforces, just like safe workforces, are more productive, innovative and profitable.
“Our sector has seen for itself the value women bring to our businesses and it’s well documented that productivity and innovation go hand-in-hand with a workforce that includes people of different gender, backgrounds and cultures.”
Queensland’s Karen Alexander – Manager of Strategic Alliances – Mining with Hastings Deering – was highly commended in the Exceptional Woman category.
And, Nikhat (Nikki) Nagin – Principal Engineer for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance – was Highly Commended in the Exceptional Young Woman section.
Other Queensland finalists were:
Gender Diversity Champion: Vince Lavery
Excellence in Diversity Programs and Performance: BHP
The national awards, hosted by a different state each year, include finalists from each of the state awards.