Earlier this year, Central Highlands Water (CHW) got in touch, to ask if Jo or I would be willing to have a chat to their four female trainees. Of course we jumped at the chance and before we knew it, Jo and I were on a train hurtling towards Ballarat for a really quite excellent day. I started my career working in Operations and a benefit of getting older is seeing how the culture has shifted to make operations a great place for females to work and also the evolution of programs and opportunities to encourage females to enter the area. Our day consisted of a site tour and morning tea at Ballarat South Waste Treatment Plant (BSWWTP), courtesy of the trainees (Lilian, Lourdes, Tania and Tanika). Lilian showed us around and shared her knowledge of the processes and also reminded us of how much there is to know!

From the BSWWTP we went on a driving tour of some of the larger reservoirs of the area, I cannot verify if we were lost or not, but we made it to the CHW head office in time for lunch and a (not long enough) session with the executives. It was great to spend some time with them and spend a little bit of time discussing our priorities and things that are keeping us busy, which is a lot!

After lunch, Jo and I were ‘interviewed’ about our experiences and covered topics such as self-care, our career journeys and backgrounds, and our motivations. It is always a bit daunting talking about yourself but hopefully some pearls of wisdom were shared! It was also nice to have some friendly faces from my past life from water quality in the crowd.

The trainee program happened organically with a single trainee position being advertised and growing to four. The interview process sounded to be more experiential and a lot more fun than a traditional interview, and the four females that have come were an unintended, but positive outcome of the process with all four trainees planning to stay long term at CHW. I would like to give a massive kudos to Kim Pappaluca and the CHW team for this program, it is exceptional and it is fantastic to see more women in operations and the cultural shift to see it succeed.

Thank you to Lilian, Lourdes, Tania, Tanika, and the whole CHW team for having us. I would also like to say a very special thank you to Kim for putting the day together, being our chauffeur and showing us to the best coffee place in Ballarat. Jo and I had a great day and would love to come back!