Taking up the opportunity of a coveted INPEX production technician traineeship at the Ichthys LNG facilities in Darwin was a life-changing decision that former psychologist Hollie Smith and former tugboat skipper Jasmine Hardy appreciated making.
Hollie and Jasmine are two of more than 25 locals who have taken advantage of a two-year traineeship through the INPEX Production Technician Traineeship Program to gain extensive technical knowledge in hydrocarbon processing and support systems, while developing skills to operate process facilities.
After studying a Bachelor of Psychology in Perth, Hollie naturally transitioned into work health and safety roles for mining companies in the Pilbara, before taking up a position with INPEX’s health, safety and environment team and moving to Darwin in 2014.
With support from her supervisor, Hollie’s career trajectory changed dramatically when she was encouraged to enrol in a traineeship to complete a Certificate III in Process Operations as part of the INPEX Production Technician Traineeship Program.
Jasmine worked as a tugboat skipper for more than a decade in Tasmania before moving to the Territory in 2014.
She knew she wanted to incorporate her shipping experience into a career move, but was also after a new challenge – and she hasn’t looked back since starting the traineeship in 2018.
“The traineeship was an excellent opportunity to get my foot in the door in a different industry, allowing me to stay in the Territory and enjoy the lifestyle that it offers,” Jasmine says.
“The work-life balance was also extremely appealing to me, as INPEX allows me to continually learn and improve my skills and offers many pathways to follow within the business during my career.”
Jasmine and Hollie spend their days on the Ichthys LNG product loading jetty in Darwin Harbour supporting the loading of LNG/LPG and condensate onto enormous carriers that sit as high as 30 metres – equivalent to 10-storey buildings – and as long as three soccer fields (300 metres).
“Our crew ties them up and lets them go,” says Hollie. “We connect the arms, we load them, we do all the pressure tests – that’s our role to make sure that the loading and unloading of the shipping schedule goes safely and smoothly.”
A highlight of their traineeship was the support and mentorship Hollie, Jasmine and their colleagues received on site, in particular working with two mentors – Heru Maliki and Paul Callow.
“Our mentors are the experts in this industry, and they are the reason we are getting such good information on the job,” Hollie says.
“They take a lot of pride in their work and everyone knows that they are the gurus when it comes to teaching and understanding the processes.
“The on-the-job training is where you learn the practical side of things, so a good mentor is imperative to the success of the traineeship.”
As a mentor for many of the INPEX production technician trainees, Heru says it is important for the trainees to have good role models.
“It is important for trainees to have strong role models in the workplace who they can learn their skillset and expected behaviours from,” he says.
“Learning the foundations in the classroom is important but learning the practical application in the field relies on experienced mentor operators to teach this.”
Hollie says: “It’s life changing. It’s the best move that I have made.
“From a professional point of view, I feel like I make a difference at the grassroots level. I love the camaraderie of the crew and working outside suits me.
“From a work-life balance, it allows me more time with my children during my three weeks off and being there on the weekend. It suits my lifestyle.
“The kids have an outdoorsy lifestyle and I think that the Territory is rich with opportunity compared to a lot of places.”