CPB Contractors’ Raquel Rubalcaba likens the rail industry to an extended family and is resolute in the opportunities it presents. Now she’s giving back to the industry she loves by helping women thrive.
Raquel Rubalcaba doesn’t mess about. A senior Operations Manager with 25 years in rail, she has forged a successful career in an industry she loves. In the meantime, she has raised two kids and emigrated from the UK, establishing a career and life in Australia. A purposeful advocate for women in rail, she also devotes a lot of time and energy to helping women into, and through, the industry. When we ask her to share her secret, her response is typically forthright:
“I’m passionate about my work and rise to a challenge. I want to show that it can be done.”
It would be easy to relate this perspective to succeeding as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Raquel is quick, however, to say she has consistently felt accepted and supported in the space. She tells us that in rail, there are ‘two degrees of separation, not six’, and she has clearly built strong relationships and lasting connections. She explains that an advantage of working in such a close-knit industry is that you become known by name or reputation, and don’t have to keep proving yourself.
So rail can be a great place for women to forge a career. The problem is no one knows about it. Raquel explains that most people fall into the industry - they don’t choose it. This is particularly problematic for women, who often assume this isn’t a place for them. Raquel’s advice to women is to keep an open mind.
“There are a lot of pre-conceived ideas of what a career in this space looks like. But it really can be anything you want it to be. We’ve still got work to do, of course, including continuing to challenge the perception that if you’re not spending 14 hours a day on site, you’re not working hard enough. But that’s changing and I feel a responsibility to take it further.”
Raquel is indeed taking responsibility. She sits on CPB Contractors’ Diversity Group and the Australian Rail Association’s ‘Women in Rail’ committee, supporting a range of initiatives to engage women and help them thrive. She also does a lot of coaching and mentoring, and it’s clear that this brings her immense personal satisfaction.
“I love the passion and energy that I see in many of the women I work with. Their curiosity and eagerness to grow reminds me why I do what I do.”
Raquel speaks highly of CPB Contractors, the employer she joined in late 2017, praising its strong focus on people and openness to change. The company has set diversity targets for key roles and is working on a range of initiatives, including sponsorship programs and a pilot to provide greater support for women and men returning to work.
As the interview draws to a close, one obvious question remains: How does she manage to juggle it all? Raquel doesn’t hesitate:
“It is a constant challenge and you have to prioritise every day. My mantra right now is this: You can do anything, not everything.”
About CPB Contractors
CPB Contractors is the CIMIC Group’s construction company, with a team of around 23,000 people working at operations across Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Asia and India.
Our people are our greatest asset, and we work hard to ensure our performance-based culture provides rewarding careers.
Read more about CPB Contractors.
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