A shared passion
‘Breaking the bias’ for women in maintenance
March 08, 2022

Every year on March 8, International Women’s Day is celebrated globally to champion the achievements of women all around the world.

This year’s theme is ‘Break the Bias’ and GrainCorp’s National Maintenance Manager Cara Hellyer, is leading the charge by actively championing women working in heavy industrial environments.[1]

Cara oversees an operational team of more than 100 people responsible for the maintenance, safety and efficiency of GrainCorp’s 180 up-country sites and ports across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

Hailing from Newcastle, NSW, Cara’s worked in maintenance and operations for 15 years, since completing an electrical apprenticeship after school.

“I come from a family of electricians, engineers and train drivers, so I was drawn to the industry from an early age,” she says.

“My mother encouraged my sisters and I to do anything – there were no limits or boundaries.”

After completing her apprenticeship, Cara landed a job in the commercial sector, and it quickly became apparent she was often the only female tradesperson on site.

“I felt I often needed to prove myself more than many of my male colleagues,” she says.

“I was seconded into my first leadership role after a few years, and I was fortunate to have a very supportive male manager who believed in me and what I could achieve in the role.”

“It was a pivotal moment in my career as it made me realise I had a real opportunity to encourage other women to come into the industry.”

Cara Hellyer on-site at GrainCorp’s port in Geelong, VIC

Since then, Cara has managed teams spanning the commercial, industrial, energy and rail sectors.

Now, six months into her role at GrainCorp, she is committed to building an empowered and, importantly, diverse workforce that attracts more young women into the industry.

“Throughout my career, I’ve met lots of women who haven’t stepped into a trade, because they feel daunted or uncertain about being in a predominantly male industry,” she says.

“In order to break this bias, we need to keep an open mind and take actions in the workforce that foster more diverse opinions and experiences.”

Cara Hellyer

She adds: “GrainCorp’s apprenticeship program and NAWO partnership are some examples of how we can make trades and other operational roles more attractive and accommodating for women.”

GrainCorp’s Tradie Trailblazer: Alex Corbett

Like Cara, Alex Corbett is treading a path less travelled by women before her.

The 17-year-old high school student from Toowoomba, in southern Queensland, is currently completing her electrical apprenticeship through GrainCorp’s newly established apprenticeship program.

“I’ve always wanted to work outdoors and with heavy machinery,” she says.

“With GrainCorp, I’ve been given the opportunity to do this and I’m fortunate to have a really supportive manager who’s encouraging me to learn, ask questions and forge a career in the industry.”

Alex Corbett, 17, is completing her electrical apprenticeship through GrainCorp’s apprenticeship program

Cara says it’s competent, motivated young women, like Alex, that are breaking down the barriers for more women to step into apprentice roles.

“We need to be asking ourselves: ‘How do we bring more women into trades?’ ‘What strategies will we use?’

“In doing so, we’ll continue to ensure we have the right people, the right experiences and the right conversations to take the momentum forward.”

GrainCorp is currently hiring for trades roles across Queensland, NSW and Victoria, as well as apprenticeships.

To find out more about these roles, visit the GrainCorp Careers Centre today.

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[1] Women represent only 1 per cent of the trades in construction and engineering in Australia. Source: ABC

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Jess Simons

Corporate Affairs & Government Relations Manager

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