An avid outdoors woman, Jane Bitmead loves adventure sports – travelling, snowboarding, mountain bike riding and camping. So it’s no surprise that her career has taken a non-traditional route. She’s currently a Machine Operator and Leading Hand of a timber yard for Qube, Australia’s largest logistics provider.
Qube has provided Jane with a lot of on-the-job training allowing her to move around the business and operations. She started at the Bunbury Port in the timber yard scaling product, and now over 6 years later she’s back in the log yard as a team leader, building on those early skills. We spoke about working in a male dominated environment, what she’d say to encourage other women and focusing on learning to grow a career.
Training through job changes
Jane joined Qube over six years ago, scaling logs in a log yard.
“A truck comes into the yard, we count and put tickets on 20% of the load, then measure the dimensions of that 20%. We translate the measurements from tonnes to JAS [a measurement related to log circumference] for international sales.”
Since scaling logs, Jane has taken a number of different jobs at Qube, receiving training along the way. The broad variety of duties include scaling, archiving in the office, loading lime tankers and bagging minerals. She then started operating heavy machinery, driving a bobcat loading heavy materials into shipping containers, operating forklifts to move shipping containers, excavators, loaders, sweeper truck and water truck.
I now run the yard. We receive logs, unload the timber into stacks, and transfer them to a JAS measurement in preparation for export. I operate the machinery, do all the administration and run all the operations as team leader at the log yard.
When asked about her variety of roles, Jane says,
“I’m enthusiastic and keen to keep learning. I see other people doing different tasks and I want to try them!”
To someone looking to take on a different career path and learn on the job, Jane has a few pieces of wisdom to share:
- It’s ok to fake it. You might have to act more confident that you feel to get a new role, but, “If you don’t have confidence in yourself then other people won’t think you can do it.”
- Act first. “Once you start to do the role, then you start to believe in yourself.”
- Push yourself. “I didn’t want to keep doing the same tasks. I wanted to keep learning. The only way I could do it was to put myself out there and just do it. I like working at different tasks, gaining additional skills and more responsibility.”
- Believe you can. Jane said she asked herself, “Why not me? I find it easier to do things when I look at people and think, ‘That person’s doing it so why couldn’t I?’”
Now in her role Jane has a lot of autonomy and responsibility.
Being a young woman in a log yard
Jane is often the only woman (and the youngest) in the yard. Logistics is typically male-dominated, but Jane shares,
“It’s awesome that Qube have been really welcoming, helping me increase my skills with training and being really supportive. Being in a more male dominated industry, growing my confidence and having people around me who believe I can do things has been amazing. Qube have really given me the opportunity to expand my work experiences.”
Jane says the best thing you can do is be confident in yourself and your skills, but don’t be afraid to ask questions.
“People aren’t always used to seeing a young woman in this area of work, so you have to prove yourself. But, once you prove yourself then you don’t have to prove it again.”
To another woman thinking of joining Qube, Jane offers;
Qube provide a lot of opportunities. Because they have a focus on women in the workforce they provide support to draw them out and develop them. There is a lot of support.
“I’ve had some really good supervisors. If there is extra work on a loader they’ll call me because they are aware that I want more experience. They direct a lot of tasks to me so that I can gain experience, become proficient at operating more machinery with the result of being more flexible in the workplace.”
She says the benefits or working at Qube are great, “as well as interesting and rewarding.”
Because of company’ growth, Jane has acquired various licences, such as High-Risk Ticket and HR Driver's Licence. Jane is now building her skills on loader machinery operation. The challenges she’s handled along the way have taught her some important lessons.
“I’ve learned that I can do a lot more than I realised. I am smarter and more determined than I thought.”
To another woman deciding what opportunities to take on, Jane shares;
- Be open minded. “I don’t know where I want to go next but I take any opportunities that get thrown my way.”
- Allow the unexpected. “Don’t go into things with a fixed point of view” as you never know what might happen.
- Choose variety. “Go with the opportunities you are given, because they will always take you further. You might find something you’re really interested in! I learned I love logging and the machine operations.”
- Focus on learning. “I want to find something I really enjoy. Once I do something for a while, I like to move onto the next task. I don’t want to be at a standstill. I want to keep learning, expanding my knowledge and increasing my skills.”
- Let people know what you want. “I always show I am a keen and willing worker as I am hoping it will lead me somewhere interesting!”
Reflecting on where she’s been so far in her career, and what she wants to do next, Jane shares,
“I’m always looking for the next challenge. It’s rewarding to think about everything I've learnt and achieved!”
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