Celebrating Women at Aurizon on International Women's Day
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and the theme of #ChooseToChallenge across Aurizon, we share the career and achievements of one of our rising female leaders Elise Ryan.
Elise is one of a number of talented women in our business who are all paving their own way in a traditionally male-dominated industry, and who #ChooseToChallenge stereotypical career pathways for women.
Elise is a mechanical engineer by trade and is currently based in Western Australia, leading a large commercial project for Aurizon’s Bulk business.
Having joined Aurizon more than four years ago, Elise is enjoying the range of career opportunities the Company has to offer, working in corporate and operational roles at sites on both the east and west coasts of Australia.
“Five years ago, I never would have imagined myself working in a regional Australian city managing team members who each have 40 years of rail experience – but I absolutely love it!” Elise said.
“The experience you get by living in the heart of our operations and communities is invaluable. I have a new sense of connection with the business and our people, and a deeper appreciation of the scale of our operations, the size of our assets and the impact Aurizon has on regional communities.”
With a Bachelor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and a Master of Engineering in hand, Elise initially came into the business as a Graduate in Brisbane and worked in the locomotive and wagon rollingstock engineering teams.
Soon after, she progressed to the role of Train Performance Engineer where she led work on Aurizon’s engineering documents which govern the operational safe working processes for all of Aurizon’s train services across the nation.
This role enabled her to begin developing leadership skills in coordinating teams, prioritising competing business demands and embedding best practice methods.
Elise’s career aspirations were to progress into leadership roles, and so after two and a half years in Brisbane-based roles she stepped out of her comfort zone and relocated to Townsville in North Queensland to be the Operations Improvement Leader for Aurizon’s Bulk East business.
In this role she led a small team to manage operational transformation in Bulk East by working with the planning, commercial, frontline operations and maintenance teams.
“Although it was a big personal change for me to go to from a metro area to a regional area, I found the transition relatively smooth with a network of people within the Company supporting me. It also provided me with a great opportunity to explore a new part of beautiful Australia!”
Last month, Elise relocated to Perth as Commercial Project Lead, managing the design and implementation of a new business opportunity for Aurizon’s Bulk West business.
“I’m excited to develop my capability in the commercial area and to round it out with my technical background,” Elise said.
Elise’s key message to other women looking to develop their skills and further their career is to be ‘open to opportunities, even if they are outside your comfort zone’.
“If you’re looking to take that next step in your career, be open to pursuing opportunities that you didn’t think were in your skill set. Focus on the strengths that you can bring to the role and challenge yourself to learn something different,” Elise said.
“I would never have thought about working in operational or commercial roles when I was in engineering. However, I was keen to advance my career and broaden my skill set and so, was open to new experiences, willing to relocate and had a leadership team that was looking for people to bring different backgrounds and diversity of thought to the role.
“Aurizon has enabled me to challenge myself both professionally and personally and step into new areas. Here at Aurizon I can work in such a variety of areas and be exposed to completely different elements of the industry, all while working for the same company.”