Julie studied English, Geography, Chemistry, Physics and Maths at a high school in southwest Western Australia.
I loved everything to do with science at high school, particularly chemistry, scientific formulas, and the periodic table of the elements! Thinking about things at a molecular level. Having a better understanding of how things work, why they are like that, opening up your mind to exciting information!
Julie knew she wanted to pursue a science career, but didn’t want to work inside all day in a lab.
I was proactive about my career decision, I went to a Science Summer School at a University during high school holidays which gave me a great insight into various science careers and courses.
Julie said that she also visited several universities and read their prospectuses to learn more about their courses, and she read the careers book provided by my school from cover to cover.
As a child, I enjoyed family trips in the country where my father would describe how the various landscapes and rock types were formed. I loved rocks, machinery, the outdoors and collected rocks.
My father was a mechanic, so I enjoyed spending time with him, fixing cars and tractors and learning about mechanics.
University and first job
Julie combining both her main interests by studying Chemistry and Mineral Science (Extractive Metallurgy) double major university.
After my first year of university I spent the summer holidays working at a processing plant at a gold mine, which is when I realised –‘yeah I really love this’- and that inspired me to keep progressing my metallurgy career.
Julie’s first full time job was as a Graduate Metallurgist at Telfer Gold Mine. She spent the first year learning all sections of the processing plant as an operator, doing metallurgical projects, running the metallurgical laboratory and getting shift supervisor experience, as well as getting exposure to other areas of the business such as the mining and maintenance areas.
Julie’s advice to students
Julie stresses that it is important to understand the different career opportunities available and choose one that really interests you so that you are doing something you enjoy.
Personal attributes that she believes have been important for success in her career are:
- a positive outlook
- self-drive and be willing to ‘give it a go’
- being authentic to yourself, You don’t have to change the person that you are to try to fit in. Just maintain yourself, your authenticity, your personality, principles and the character that you are. Being authentic develops trust and respect from others. It reduces stress, increases resilience, and makes us happier too.
- having confidence in yourself, something we all have to continue working on, as well as learning how to communicate and present yourself well.
- delivering results that make senior management recognise you.
Julie loves scuba diving, canyoning, abseiling, hiking, mountaineering, beach activities, underwater photography and love travelling (she has travelled to over 100 countries!).
Never be afraid to give something a go, even if you don’t have the perfect experience for it.
When presented with obstacles, I ask for help from others who can help me out and I put an action plan in place to ensure I can overcome the various issues.
Networking is important, you’ll learn more about your chosen sector, increase your knowledge, meet experienced people that can offer advice, raise your personal profile, and often you will meet people that can help you get your first job or even find a mentor.
Julie’s current job
Julie is the General Manager at Fortescue’s largest mine site, Solomon Mine.
She is responsible for the entire mine site operations, which includes the safe production of 75Mt of iron ore per year, ensuring the safety of approximately 1800 employees and contractors and managing approximately one billion dollars each year.
My responsibilities include ensuring compliance to the Mines Safety & Inspection Act and Regulations, all legal and environmental requirements. I am responsible for ensuring we meet our safety, production and costs targets for the business.
The role involves a range of activities; including spending time with people in the field ensuring safety on the job, having meetings about production and costs, strategic business planning, workforce planning, dealing with day to day, medium and long-term matters, continuous improvement which includes implementation of technology to improve safety and productivities.
Typically, Julie works four days on and have three days off, whilst at the mine I work over 12 hours per day.
STEM at work
STEM is used in all aspects on the mine site and we have many STEM related roles such as mining engineers, geologists, metallurgists, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, hydrogeologists, environmental scientists, data analysts, technology experts and many others.
STEM is used to improve safety in our workplace, to do mine planning, to optimise equipment productivities and processing efficiencies, to reduce costs and have a safer and more profitable business.
Since this interview and video production, Julie has been promoted to the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Fortescue Metals Group.