Last month we caught up with Sunchip’s forestry team in the Tuan Forest, Queensland, where we met Stacey. Stacey is Sunchip’s one and only female operator and she is not only pretty unique in her field of work, but she has a very interesting background to go with it! So we decided to ask her a few questions about her job and women in forestry.
What is your job, and how many years have you been doing it?
“I’m an operator and have been for nine years with Sunchip. I operate a John Deere timber processor.”
Where did you start your career?
“I’ve had a pretty diverse career. First, I managed a citrus orchard in Bundaberg, then I had a QA role at Golden Cockeral in Brisbane for six years, then I found myself working as a barista in a coffee shop for three years. Finally, I found my love for operating.”
What do you love most about your job?
“I just enjoy it, I’m by myself so I get a bit of “me time” in the machine. It’s an interesting job and there’s a lot more to it than just harvesting trees. You’ve got to keep an eye on the quality of the trees, the calibrating of the machine and the maintenance of the machine, among other things.
I really enjoy working with the fellas, they’re good fun. I don’t expect them to treat me any different, I’m just part of the team, we’re a big family. I love having a joke with them, it’s good fun.”
How much have you seen the workplace change for women over the years?
“The sort of work that I do isn’t really available to women, it’s not advertised enough in terms of personal training in my opinion. I’m the only female operator at Sunchip, but I also work with females who are based in the office.”
Do you have any women that inspire you from around the world?
“I don’t really look up to anybody, sometimes you’ve just got to get out there and give something a go. Just jump in and do it, it’s not often the opportunity comes across. You’ve just got to try things to see if you like it. Mark (Director of Sunchip) was willing to give me an opportunity and give me a go – now that I’ve proven I can do it well, he says now he wishes he had more operators like me, which is definitely nice to hear!”
How does your employer support you in your job?
“I feel like I can ring Mark at any time and ask him anything, the same goes with my supervisor. Everyone is very open and honest. If I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, they’ll pull me into line, which is great because I don’t want to be treated any differently to anyone else.”
What advice would you give to other women looking to enter the forestry industry?
“If you’re willing, just give it a go, any opportunity that you get. I love it and I find it really interesting. I’ve been in coffee shops, been a supervisor and am quite happy here in my machine! I’m grateful that Mark was willing to give me the opportunity.
The hardest thing for me was to crack the ‘male vs female’ mentality, but once that was gone, I found my place, and I love it.”
Thanks again to Stacey, Mark and the Sunchip crew.