Moranbah tradeswoman takes national award

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.

More about Karen
Karen is a 30-year resources sector veteran and successful Everest climber.
Karen, Manager of Strategic Alliances – Mining with Hastings Deering was one of just two females among 800 male engineering students while studying for her mechanical engineering degree, and one of the first two females to ever complete this degree at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
And now, she is Hastings Deering’s first senior executive sales business leader.
Among her other firsts are being the first female fuels and lubricants product application engineer to be permitted access to underground mine services at Mount Isa Mines, and the first female fuels and lubricants product application engineer at Shell before leading Shell’s global technical business.
Originally from New Zealand, Karen and her 83-year-old father, who just missed out on climbing with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2014 to complete his ‘unfinished business.’
Karen was recognised for her 30-year involvement with QUT in 2006 when she received the Dean’s award for Outstanding Alumni Contribution.
Since 1999, Karen has been a member of the Faculty Academic Board for Science and Engineering and an Engineering Course Advisory Group member since 2013.
Karen has also been involved with the Sunshine Coast University, being an External Advisory Board Member for its ENACTUS program since 2001, a not-for-profit global student program encouraging students to take classroom theory into the real world and develop projects to benefit communities.

More about Nikhat
Nikhat (Nikki) Nagin, is a principal engineer for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance.
Nikki, who came to Australia from Fiji when she was 16, was determined to become an engineer, despite her grandmother telling her it was a job for men, and later being told by a boss that she’d have to work twice as hard as the men to be successful.
‘That particular manager became a bit of an informal mentor and provided me with a lot of support,’ said Nikki.
‘My parents have been very supportive including my dad visiting me at Olympic Dam on site and being allowed to go underground.
‘Being a lawyer, this was very exciting for him, and now he doesn’t think I carry a pickaxe to work.’
Nikki is currently studying for Master in Project Management majoring in Global Project Design at the University of Sydney.

A video of Carolyn

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