Welcome to our Women In Mining Series:
Meet Sherie Kumhuaybong – Operations Site Access Administrator
I was born in Thailand and had moved to Perth when I was 5 years old and have lived here ever since. I will be turning 31 years on 24/03/22 and graduated Year 12 at Mater Dei College. My interests include shopping, going for boozy lunches with girlfriends, spending time with my daughter and partner and catching up with my parents.
After High School, I had originally wanted to pursue a career in Architecture or Interior Designing but wasn’t 100% sure and instead went into the workforce straight after I graduated. My first job was as a Receptionist/Accounts Payable/PA role for a contractor in the Oil & Gas industry and I was there just under 5 years in a full-time and then part-time position when I had my daughter. I wanted a change in career and a challenge so began working at Boart Longyear as Site Access Administrator. I loved it there and was there just under 5 years. I had decided to resign during the downturn as the working atmosphere had changed.
I accepted an offer in a role at Numac Drilling but their offices are based over east, and I was doing FIFO on a 1:1 (week) roster from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and on the off week I was working in their sister company Core Drilling in Perth. I was in the role just under 6 months and had really enjoyed the role but it was not ideal with the travel and time differences as I wasn’t spending much time with my daughter.
After having couple weeks off, I started a job with DDH1 Drilling as Training/Operations Administrator, and was assisting in Training, HSEQ, HR and the Operations Department and after couple of years I was working full-time in the Operations Department. I had worked at the company for 5 years, but I wanted to be closer to home and driving to and from Canning Vale each day took its toll on me and my family as I was driving total of 3 hrs or more each day.
I went into Recruitment at Redfield Resources for a couple months to try something different, but it wasn’t for me as it was repetitive each day and it wasn’t giving me the drive that I needed to stay motivated. I had received a call from Aaron who I had worked directly with at Boart Longyear and was offered to come have a chat about a role that became available at McKay Drilling. I came in for a chat which turned into an interview and was offered the position a couple days later. I took the role as it was a role that I knew well and had experience in as a Site Access Administrator and was a lot closer to home. I had also heard great things about the company and I knew that I had made the right choice.
I had spent most of my younger years working full time and being a single mum as well was hard which meant I missed out on the things you should doing when you are younger like travelling, partying etc. I had to push myself to be the best that I can be when it came to my career and wanted a good reputation for my hard work especially in a male dominant industry.
It was very overwhelming starting my first day in a job in the mining industry at Boart Longyear as I had been a shy person in High School but I had two options to either fail and get walked over or stand my ground and try to exceed in my role and do the best I could do.
In my first role for a contracting company in the Oil & Gas industry there was equal males and females but it was a small company, which I didn’t feel the pressure as I was working with people I knew from outside of work. Whilst at Boart Longyear and DDH1 is was a bit different, as you didn’t have a choice who can/can’t talk to so it definitely changed me as a person and made me pride myself and my work and I became sociable with different people. I have been lucky enough to have the support that I needed in my role and to be able to make new friendships.
My experiences as a women in the workforce, the positives would be building new friendships with both women and men but also being able to get on with your job and not experiencing having a ‘’bitchy’’ working environment. The negatives would be feeling the pressure to always prove yourself that your worthy as an employee and as a woman working in a male dominant industry, not being part of the ‘’boys’’ group/inside jokes etc, the wage gap, being judged based on how you look/what you wear, not being open about how you feel or your opinions on topics and feeling like you are being judged if you are strong headed.
Being a female and working in the mining industry which has always been male dominant, and there will always be differences on how you are treated based on your gender. I look up to the women in a power role and women should be empowering other women to be the best they can be, and to take on the job roles that are considered high management or trade roles. I’m not a feminist but I’ve seen too many women being afraid to take the step due to getting judged.
I see more mining companies promoting more females in the industry but I think contractors to mining companies could learn from them. You can see companies promoting females in the workforce through social media like LinkedIn. Though unfortunately, I feel the weight of women that are judged as whole instead of the individual if someone makes a mistake.
Challenges I feel I may face is being able to upskill myself and being asked questions on why I want to do certain training or courses. I do see these challenges differentiate to a male in the same role.
McKay Drilling has done well in regards to gender parity when it comes to field based roles, but they can do more to improve the gender parity in the office.