While embarking on her career at BlueScope, Emily has successfully juggled taking parental leave three months before completing her apprenticeship and doing shift work with a young child.

“My daughter is 14 now and thinks it is great that her mum is an electrician! She is very proud of me and is interested in doing a trade herself.”

While challenging, they certainly didn’t hamper Emily’s career progression to maintenance planning roles after completing her apprenticeship in 2005, through to her secondment to a management position at the start of 2019.

“As a Maintenance Strategist within the Cold Reduction management team I’m looking after the maintenance budget for the Cold Reduction Department. Our process lines (Pickling Line and Cold Rolling) prepare the raw coils supplied from Port Kembla for further processing throughout the business.”

“It is a big budget and I really enjoy the challenges around data analysis.”

Without doubt, gaining employment with BlueScope to complete her apprenticeship was pivotal for Emily’s career trajectory.

“When I was pregnant and doing shiftwork, it was difficult with morning sickness but BlueScope was supportive, putting me on a dayshift. BlueScope has also been accommodating with changing start times to suit when my daughter started school, etc.”

This level of support has continued throughout her career, amplified by a manager who became a proactive mentor and encouraged her career development.

My former manager recognised potential in me, even if I didn’t recognise it in myself. He helped me to step outside my comfort zone.”

“He has been a supportive mentor and provided many opportunities for me to complete training and leadership development.”

BlueScope has an established Diversity Network that invites regular guest speakers to address the group and both women and men from different sites are encouraged to attend.

He made me aware of this group and also encouraged me to attend NAWO events and to join NAWO Mentoring Circles.”

Participating in NAWO Mentoring Circles in 2018 helped Emily and the other five women within the group to set strategic career goals. She is quietly proud to have already moved a step beyond the goals.

“David Griss of Asaleo Care was our group mentor. He was great for helping us to set career goals and personal development plans.”

“We were all very similar in our career level and we all decided what topics we wanted to cover over the six sessions. It was a great fit with all of the women.”

Reflecting on her career since leaving school, Emily says that she was “always interested in ‘hands on’ learning and enjoyed physics,” however her “plans to become an electrical engineer were thwarted by missing out on a university offer”.

While Emily was the only female apprentice when she began working with BlueScope, she has noted a positive change in the level of gender diversity, although the level of women in trades remains low.

Her message to women considering a trade or operational career?

“Go for it! Women worry about being in a male dominated environment but most of the guys are now used to having women alongside them so it shouldn’t stop you.”

“Have confidence in your ability, that you can do these things.”

3 Questions

1. What advice do you have for operational businesses seeking to attract and retain more women?

A few years ago we had a meeting with women onsite and one thing we identified was that our careers page didn’t depict any women in operational roles. The careers page now has a focus on the new roles that have been filled, many of them by women, and BlueScope also promotes female recruits via the Facebook page.

Unfortunately there has been limited hiring of women into trades. All hiring is done through external contractors, so we need to look at what our recruitment companies are doing to recruit and who they are targeting.

Also, when I first started, there was no PPE for women, but BlueScope now has a range of PPE for women – including expectant mothers.

2. What impact has nawo had on your career?

Participating in the NAWO Mentoring Circles program was great for setting career goals. We had a great fit with all of the women in our group. We covered many topics including career management, creating a growth mindset, how to build confidence and resilience, influencing and negotiation, job interview success and how to create your own personal brand.

I’ve also been to a few NAWO Quick Bite events and have always found these inspiring and supportive.

3. What advice would you give women embarking on a career in operations?

Go for it! You need to be openminded. Have confidence in your ability to do these things. Don’t worry about your size, shape, how strong you are – don’t try to be ‘one of the guys’. Just be yourself.

In high school I did more of the ‘practical’ classes. Girls should feel empowered to do metal work/wood work/automotive classes.