Meet Karen Baker – a friendly and familiar face in the Drilling Industry

Karen was born in England and spent her childhood years living in Uganda, Kenya, Canada, and Zimbabwe before arriving in Perth in 1978 and attending St Mary’s Anglican Girls School. Life after school would lead Karen down many avenues and experiences. First starting an apprenticeship at Miss Mauds as a chef, which she quickly discovered was not her forte! She then worked across many hospitals and Pathology departments and even traveled across the globe visiting Africa, Sweden, and Spain and going on a working holiday through England.

In 1989, Karen returned from her travels to start what would end up to be her long career in the Mining industry. Karen’s first job in the Mining world was as a Plant Operator on a C.I.L plant on the tanks at Goongarrie Gold Mine, then moved to the Gold Room pouring Gold bars at Julie Mines, WMC. From 1991 to 1993, Karen worked in Leonora for Kerion PTY LTD, where she worked for SkyWest, fuelling planes and tankers, booking flights, hire cars, and even looked after and trained 12 racehorses for Neil Biggs, who she often keeps in touch with.

1994, was when Karen’s career in the drilling industry commenced. Employed as a receptionist/general admin for DrillCorp in the Raiseboring Division, then progressing to the main office as a receptionist and becoming the Secretary for the then CEO. Karen’s roles progressed and changed dramatically over the years, covering the roles of a receptionist, Executive Secretary, Accounts Payable, Personal assistant, and Operations Administration Supervisor/Office Manager where she was in charge of four administrators. Over those 20 years, Karen experienced the highs and lows of business, challenges that came with a change of management, merging companies and staff, and even the major recession in 2008/2009.

In 2014, Karen started at McKay Drilling as our Payroll and Accounts Payable Officer. She has seen our company grow from 74 to now over 190 employees, remained strong and positive through our ups and downs in business and management changes.

“When Karen joined McKay Drilling 7 years ago, not only did she bring a wealth of knowledge, both life and professionally, but a daily positive can-do attitude and a beautiful sense of charisma as well. Karen makes the workplace feel like a home, she’s always the first to ask how you are and reminding us to take one step at a time, that we’re doing a great job, and encouraging all her counterparts to keep on achieving and doing the best they can. She’s like a cheerleader for all and it’s really heartwarming to not only work with her but know her as well.”

Earlier this year, we asked Karen some further questions to get to know her better and really understand how she lives a positive life.

Who inspires you / who or what is your motivation?

My mum and dad have inspired me, they are my rock, I am the person I am today because of them.  They taught me to do the best I can, work hard in life, don’t be materialistic, and appreciate what you have, and have respect for people.  My motivation is meeting deadlines, targets, and goals, learning new things.    Finding ways to solve a problem and overcoming a challenge.

What are you passionate about? Professionally and personally?

Getting my job done to the best of my ability, and finding new ways of streamlining my job to make it run more efficiently.  I am passionate about life in general, I always try and look at the positives, rather than the negatives.

How would you describe your time at McKay Drilling? From the start to now?

Very challenging to begin with, joining a company that was going through a growth phase in a depressed market.  My role included assisting in the implementation of new systems including a new accounting package, employee contracts, working through our creditors and understanding their needs, and building those relationships.

I was motivated to succeed within a fantastic company that had a few growing pains like most companies in a growth phase.

Looking back over the six years, from where we have come from to where we are now, it’s a proud moment to know that I’ve been a part of the success.

What are some highlights and/or favourite parts about working at McKay?

Watching the company grow, from August 2014 from 74 staff, to now nearly 200 staff.  It’s great to watch a new ‘green’ offsider sign up with the business and I enter their employment details into the system and watch their development over the years through their promotions.

Working for Jenny and Mark McKay in a family business.  Watching the company going through the struggles of the recession, and coming out the other end, to being a very successful company.

It is the people that make McKay Drilling, without our team we wouldn’t have a company and it is all levels of staff from the Workshop, Stores, Admin Staff, Management Staff, and Field who make the company successful.

What advice would you give to the younger generation? Professionally and personally.

Give your job your best shot.  Never give up when it gets tough.  Going through the tough times makes you a stronger person in the end.  Work hard and don’t let your team members down.  Life is an open book there is so much to learn out there so always look at new ways of improving yourself.

Do you have a motto you live by?

One step at a time will get the job done!

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.

Coming together is a beginning.  Keeping together is progress.  Working together is SUCCESS !!!

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Spending time with my family and friends.

Going to the beach, going fishing, swimming, snorkeling.

Horse Riding.

Lastly, rewinding to International Women’s Day and what we covered. Could you touch a little on how it has been working 20+ years in such a male-dominated industry? Have you seen it evolved and improved?

When I first started in the industry, yes I found it hard, you had to work twice as hard to prove yourself, that you were worthy of the job and getting paid a fair wage.

Over the years with women having more of a say and women higher up in the mining companies, it has improved in getting fairer treatment.

Wages for women are still pretty low in the mining sector, but they have definitely improved over the years, and it is great to see in the field the women and men are on the same wage.


  1. Michelle GibbMay 9, 2021

    Well done Karen 🙂

  2. Anne GreenhalghMay 11, 2021

    Proud of you Karen, keep up the good work!


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