Describe your job.
I am currently working for ALS as an NDT Technician, focused on several different testing methods such as ultrasonics, digital radiography, magnetic particle and penetrant testing, for asset integrity. I recently started in a FIFO (Fly-In, Fly Out) role completing digital radiography corrosion inspections for a coal seam gas operation. Digital radiography is a new avenue for me; it’s really interesting learning how the technology works.
What inspired you to choose a career in welding inspection and asset integrity?
I was never planning on going down the path of inspection. I actually hadn’t even heard of NDT before I started working in the industry in 2011. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by welding and had always had an interest in different types of materials. However, my plan was to study dentistry because I loved physics and biology. Once I started working in the NDT industry and saw how much potential there was for a diverse career, and how much experience I could gain, I decided to continue learning and began a traineeship.
My traineeship with ALS was great. It was not just focused on theoretical knowledge learnt in a classroom. I was going out, working on-site with real materials and using real NDT methods. This really added to my personal and professional experience as a 19 year old—it was really exciting and interesting.
Why do you think women should choose a career in welding inspection and asset integrity?
From personal experience, I have gained so much confidence in both my working and personal life. I have been offered great opportunities that I thought women could never have gained within a male dominant industry, such as welding. Any woman who has a keen interest in practical and theoretical knowledge should know that this industry has so many different avenues. And, just like men, women are more than capable of pursuing these.
Do you have any advice for women considering a welding inspection career?
Being a woman in a male dominant industry has taught me to stand up and speak—before I would have felt compelled to hide in the background. I’ve gained a level of confidence in being able to problem solve and take the lead on jobs. Woman who are considering a similar career should know that if you put in the work and effort to prove—not only to yourself but to employers and employees—your work ethic and your ability to perform, it does not go unnoticed.
Have you found working in a traditionally male-dominated industry difficult? How have you overcome challenges?
Without a doubt, I have found it difficult. Over the years, I have experienced some harsh realities within the industry. If I had started my career 20 or 30 years ago, I imagine it would have been much worse. Today, I have my experience, knowledge, work ethic and passion to guide me toward being a stronger and more confident worker. Having women on-site is something that I feel has helped, and continues to help, the industry take a different view on how business development and working lifestyle is handled. I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have worked with some amazing men thathave helped guide me and see my full potential.
What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?
There have been so many different projects that I’ve had the opportunity to work on, learn some valuable skills and gain amazing experience from throughout the past eight years. If I had to pick one in particular, it would be working alongside some of the world’s top engineers and NDT technicians on a shutdown in Victoria.
Who has inspired you professionally?
When I first started in NDT, I had some close family friends who took me under their wing. Over the past eight years, the support from fellow technicians, trade assistants, clients, family and friends has not only guided me, but pushed me to go further and succeed in my career. There is one person in particular who has inspired me: Kristen Walsh (Group General Manager - Industrial, ALS). Kristen is a strong, highly regarded female. I have looked up to and admired Kristen for the success she has achieved in a male dominant industry.
What do you believe is the biggest challenge for the industry at the moment?
Australia is known for having high standards of work. However, I feel that the industry needs to have a better understanding of how important asset integrity is. When we do not maintain our assets, they do not operate to their full potential. This can impact safety, production, the environment and company image.
What do you believe is the biggest opportunity for the industry at the moment?
As the industry becomes more automated, the technological advancements that are becoming available for NDT methods in particular, will help the businesses and corporations gain more accurate and consistent results for their assets and their life expectancy.
Source: Australian Welding September 2019. Australian Welding is the quarterly magazine of Weld Australia, the peak body representing the welding industry in Australia. This and other issues can be found at http://bit.ly/australianwelding