When I was invited to join the tribe of the exceptional women of Gazella, I was stoked, excited and overwhelmed. The Gazella network has been a driving force in my career. The storytelling; providing much needed inspiration and connectedness, creating the support I craved in the isolating moments of my experiences.
I feel so lucky to have been there from Gazella’s inception, right through its journey, calling Juz & Danielle great pals. I have an inkling they knew me well enough to know I was going to go off-the-beaten-track with my approach for my content contribution…
And so it begins. Welcome to ‘Rosie goes Rogue’. A series of interviews with Women working outside the built environment. Women slaying in non-typical industries with peaks and challenges of a different kind.
The intention of these interviews is to enable Gazella to shine a light on something you may not have known about or even considered. Our aim; to provide a conversation around different approaches experienced by women in other industries.
It is with great pleasure that we bring you our first interview with Anna Ogilvie, the FIFO
Considering how many times I get asked, I really don’t have a good answer for how I landed in a job in geology. I went to an academically driven all-girls, boarding-school. The path was set out for future lawyers, doctors and nurses. Loving science and going along with the status quo, I landed in a pre-medicine interview for University. I instantly knew it wasn’t for me.
My grandfather was a geologist but it wasn’t like I loved rocks from a young age! My farming background lends itself to an outdoor lifestyle and geology is the most artistic science you can pursue. I guess I just fell into it!
Simply put, Geologists are glorified treasure hunters. We use geophysics and geochemistry to find whatever we can, in the ground. In University we studied the earth. Most of us didn’t really know how learning about how volcanoes are formed would lead to a job. Over time and many, many geology camps (I know guys, I am super cool), in the middle of nowhere mapping, I started to realise how cool it is to hike around exploring the environment and get paid for it.
My graduating class entered the workforce in the downturn of 2014, there were no jobs. Some went onto gap years and other industry pursuits. I completed my Honours to differentiate myself. I applied for well over thirty jobs, I heard back from three! I landed an exploration role based in Adelaide. It involved flying in and out all across the nation searching for mineral deposits. I was initially on a rig with a small copper deposit. We would be outside in 35 degrees heat all day. By the end of the day you are exhausted, have the best sleep of your life and have a lot of fun in the process! I worked my way up the ranks in that role for five years, I worked in every state of Australia except NT and Tassie and got to go to places you typically wouldn’t even think to go to.
This year I have moved West to explore the other side of the fence – mining geology. Based in Perth, I now fly in and out of the Tanami Desert to a gold mine. Well that was the plan before COVID-19 hit. Currently I fly in and out of a hotel in Darwin because we are technically across state borders on site.
Whilst relatively new to the mine way of life, it is already much more structured than my last role. You know what every day will look like, you know what’s coming, you are looking for gold and pointing the drilling team in the right direction. In exploration you are staying in shearers quarters, camping or living in small local homes, cooking and bonding with your immediate team. On the mine site, there are hundreds of people living in a series of ‘dongas’, which are essentially shipping containers with a bedroom and bathroom, a ‘dry mess’ cafeteria, ‘wet mess’ bar and a gym. It’s its own little world out there. I am slowly adjusting to my new neighbours, the dingoes… other than a bit of stalking, they aren’t all bad!
I am used to covering up when I am around site, at meals or the bar, avoiding the unwanted attention and male gaze. The culture on the mine is very respectful of women. The most women I had ever worked with previously was two at a time. Currently, we have over a hundred women on our site. The fly in, fly out nature of mining doesn’t lend itself to those with family commitments. You see the FIFO ratios of females drop off at a certain age, opting for a different type of role in industry.
You need to take the good with the bad being a woman on a mine in a sea of men. When you interact with new people, some can read into the relationships on site a bit too much and think the casual morning hello means you are up for a hookup. Other times, living in such close quarters, you make great friends. I am so tight with my old team which helped enormously when riding out the tough times.
What sets the construction industry apart from the mining industry? I think mining places a huge emphasis on mental health. Support systems are highlighted everywhere, from the site induction to posters on the back of your door at night. Workers know where to go to seek help. I believe this positive emphasis on mental health of the team could account for a more inclusive workplace for everyone. I really don’t know the answers and the industry still has a long way to go. Pubs with skimpy’s (topless barmaids) are still the only source of food in some outback Australian mining towns…
My advice to my younger self is to keep doing what you are doing. Keep reminding yourself that you won’t know the same as those around you, they may have been doing your role for as long as you have been alive. Go for any opportunity that pops up, join groups and create a support network around you. Seek out other women. They help to highlight what’s possible and provide encouragement along the way. Try to give back to the next generation, I love going back to my school, attempting to convince the girls to all to study STEM.
Growing up, my house was always filled with expressions about working hard and getting the job done. I guess I approach my work life how my family approaches farming, keep going until the task is complete. On a non-work-related front, my favourite expression from an exceptional Soft, Laura Ashley, Pastel Pink Lady in my family is ‘try before you buy’.
Keep your eyes peeled for more Rosie Goes Rogue in the coming months. And as also please get in touch with us on social media or below. We love to hear your thoughts and also have your suggestions for what you want to see on the blog!