In light of International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, we continue to celebrate the achievements of a handful of our women employees at McKay Drilling.
First up, meet Izzy Witt, a superstar Senior offsider on one of our Diamond LF350 rigs. Read on to learn more about Izzy’s journey as an offsider, goals, and life, and promising career in the mining industry.
Where it started
Izzy worked in the hospitality industry for over 5 years before starting her FIFO journey in 2014. “I managed to know some people in the mining industry, which got my foot in the FIFO door. I started as a kitchen hand, then moved on to become a store person right up until I got my job with McKay in 2019.
Drilling was a job where the prerequisite was basically to have a HR licence and where no experience was required. Although, me having some mechanical knowledge and being able to handle the outdoors was beneficial (and the pay was better!).”
Izzy says her first day as an offsider she learnt how to pull apart and put back together a lifter. “It’s not much,” she says, “but it was the first step I took to become an offsider.”
Her driller remembers when she first started, and “Izzy got upset because she didn’t know enough at that stage and couldn’t help to her full potential whilst I was struggling with the task I was undertaking, and I thought OMG, she cares. That’s different.”
How it’s going:
“Every job has downsides, but the positives outweigh the negatives. The aspect I love about offsiding is the variety of work. Driving, assembling tubes, helping the driller, using the telehandler, organising/ordering stock, fixing items, and of course learning skills that can benefit me outside of work,” Izzy reflects.
February 2021 marks Izabella’s two years with us at McKay Drilling, and she has already learned enough to drill by herself for several hours on one of our Diamond LF350 rigs and is confident helping put together the rigs in the yard. “I have learned a lot about drill rigs, which will help me on my path to becoming a fitter”.
Izzy is one of the heavy haulers on her rig, which brings a sense of achievement and pride. “It’s nice to say I have an MC licence so I’ll be driving the bigger trucks around.”
Driller Paulie says, “From the beginning, it was evident Izzy was extremely smart but also practical and very hands-on with good problem-solving skills and outstanding work ethic. She has been my offsider for 2 years now (which is a record in itself!). Izzy hasn’t gone out of her way to be one of the boys, although she has become more vocal haha. She is who she is, love her, hate her, but she’s a natural fit that performs her role at a high level, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Where it’s heading:
Izzy’s goal in life is to have a stable job, a house, and a dream to possibly retire early and now after starting the build of her first home, she’s managed to tick 2 out of 3 goals off at a very young age, “which ain’t bad” she says. With early retirement a little further away (merely due to being so young) Izzy’s next career progressive step is to obtain a qualification as a fitter and maybe advance to an auto sparkie once she’s completed.
We touched base on women in the mining industry and Izzy’s experience as an offsider in what is more commonly known as a “male-dominated industry”.
Do you think there is a stereotype attached to females working in drilling mining?
You have to be strong-willed to be in drilling and mining. I think there are stereotypes and some sort of stigma surrounding women vocalising an instruction or being assertive with directions though.
Izzy said people think of her as “demanding”, which we* believe derives from an age-old expectation of how men and women should act. “But I’ve just learned not to take shit from people.
But males also have a stereotype that I notice females don’t have (like for example willing to take more risks, working harder not smarter, etc). So, in the end, it’s a yin-yang situation.”
Have you faced any challenges or barriers working within the mining industry? Whether that be because of your gender/identity? How did you overcome them?
Mining? Not really. Drilling is a male-dominated job though. It’s hard coming in, knowing you’re a lot weaker and trying to prove that you have what it takes to do the job. The gentlemen understand that females are physically weaker and will help you if needed, but you have to at least try to do the job yourself and understand your limits. My dad mentioned that, “as long as you gave it your best effort, people will always help.”
What involvement do Men in Drilling have when it comes to the success of a woman wanting to pursue a career?
How many male drillers do you know? Now, how many female drillers do you know? How many female supervisors are there? Yes, they’re all men. If I want to become a fitter or driller, I rely on the gentlemen of the company to trust me in those positions.
Based on your own experience, what advice or important message would you give to women considering and pursuing a career in Drilling / Mining?
Just give it a go! There is no harm in trying, but if you’re too scared to give things a go, you could be missing out on your dream. I gave my cousin a call before doing this job as he previously off-sided and is now a driller. He told me to never take on this job. If I had listened to him, I would have never learned the skills I know today.
What is your inspiration for succeeding and/or who has been a role model that has inspired you?
My dad has inspired me to never let anything get in the way. Once he knew I loved mechanics and electronics, he has been constantly showing me how to fix and maintain everything around the house. He even taught me to weld last RnR 😊
Lastly, besides learning how to weld…what would we find you doing outside of work?
Gaming, off-roading, playing sports, hiking, astrophotography, and playing musical instruments!