Hear from Our People
Rudie Van Zyl
Calciner Maintenance Supervisor
Western Australian Operations
39 year old Rudie Van Zyl made the move from Cape Town South Africa, to Mandurah Australia to work for Alcoa of Australia in 2008. With him came his wife, Elmari, and their two young children Adriaan and Jaco.
Rudie left a job as Operations Manager of Chevron’s hydro treating unit at its Milnerton Refinery in South Africa, and is now Calciner Maintenance Supervisor for Alcoa’s Western Australian Operations. His job at Alcoa entails managing the planning and execution of major overhauls of the Alumina Calciners located at Alcoa’s three refineries.
“Australia, with its sunny weather, oceans and outback, seemed like an adventure worth tackling,” he said three years down the track.
“Concerns with safety in South Africa, and future opportunities for us and our children, were also obviously on our minds a lot at the time when we were considering making the move.
“The biggest joy has been the freedom we now have in being able to enjoy nature. We can go camping in the bush and walk along the beach without constantly worrying about our safety.
“The Alcoa sites in Western Australia are conveniently close to Perth, but far enough from the rush and congestion of the city.
“This also meant I did not have to take on a fly-in-fly-out job and could spend every night at home with my family. This was something that was very important to us when making the decision to move to another country.
“Alcoa offered very family and community friendly conditions of employment.”
Rudie said he and his family found the transition to Australia to be relatively easy and hassle free, with the climate and culture playing a huge part in this.
“The company has a diverse workforce, and there are many other immigrants within the company, so that’s made my adjustment in Australia fairly easy.
“My wife, Elmari, found adjusting a bit more challenging, but only because she was at home raising our two boys and for a short time had to manage the many small administrative tasks associated with moving to a new country. But that’s only a short-term thing, and getting involved in our local church and activities at the kids’ school was great for settling and making new friends.
“Our kids were three and four years old when we made the move and they’ve taken the change in their stride. Kids are resilient and I think often much more adaptable that adults, and much more adaptable than we adults give them credit for.
“Adriaan , the youngest, is outgoing and makes friends easily. He already supports the Wallabies and Ricky Ponting is his favourite cricket player.
“Jaco is a bit more reserved and is sticking a bit closer to his South African roots, and that’s okay too.
“Luckily South Africa and Australia share a lot of sports so our boys have been able to participate in sports that were part of our culture there and are part of our culture here. Although it does take a bit to get used to Aussie Rules football and some may never get it!”
Rudie and his family have found leaving family and friends behind has been the hardest part of moving and offers this advice to fellow South Africans considering a move:
“You and your family must be willing to adapt and make this your new home. It makes life a lot tougher if a part of you wants to be somewhere else.”
Wai Lim Kong
By taking the issue of the work/ life balance seriously, Alcoa knows we stand a far greater chance of attracting the right people who are best placed to assist in delivering bottom line results.
Wai Lim has been part of the Alcoa team since 1992. She works in research and development within our Technology Delivery Group at the Kwinana Refinery. Wai Lim is married and is the carer of her elderly mother, who also lives with her. She works part-time and has the flexibility to work from home when the need arises.
“Part-time works for me because I need to give support to my mother. She’s in her 80s and started to need my assistance due to her health. Being a carer takes a lot out of you and my work arrangements allow me the extra time I need for myself and my family.
“If my mum has an appointment at the doctor and the appointment falls in my normal work time, I have the flexibility to come in for half a day or work from home.”
“I don’t work from home a lot, but when I do I just need to inform my supervisor that I won’t be on site but will be available on the phone and online and it’s never a problem.”
Graduate Electrical Engineer
Visiting Alcoa as a high school student back in 2003 inspired Jamie Delgado to pursue a career with us.
In 2009, Jamie began work at the Kwinana Refinery as an Electrical Engineer under our Graduate Program.
Having previously lived with her family in the north west of WA, and watching her father work in mining, Jamie always knew industry was where she wanted to end up.
“I was already going down the path to mining, and did some vacation work up north, but wasn’t sure which discipline to follow. When I came to Alcoa for a Buddy Day, I found that the refinery process was really interesting, which helped me identify which discipline I wanted to pursue at university.
“So far, it’s been very interesting working here. I have come through some challenges and learned to network really fast!
“I have to liaise with different groups of people around the refinery and there are so many people to talk to who have years of experience and just know stuff off the top of their heads.
Jamie gained her chartered status in Engineering through the help of our Graduate Program.
“I feel fortunate to have a job in the current environment, and I think my participation in Alcoa's Future Women of Industry program definitely opened my eyes to pursue a career with Alcoa.”
Pinjarra Senior Operator Jane Burton said the lure of working outdoors was a major reason for her decision to apply for an Operator traineeship at the Pinjarra Refinery.
Jane had previously taken on a variety of different jobs, from managing a supermarket, to working on farms, and being a gym instructor, before making her leap into Alcoa.
She became interested in a career at Alcoa because her partner worked for us, and she noticed that it seemed like a great place to work.
When Jane saw an advertisement for a Trainee Operator, she jumped at the opportunity and was one of five people taken on for an 18-month traineeship at Pinjarra, at that time.
“My traineeship involved full-time work two days, two nights, then four days off as well as TAFE assignments which I needed to complete to get my skilled certificate,” Jane said.
Jane says it’s the physical nature of the job, not the pay, that she most likes.
At the completion of her 18-month traineeship in 2009, Jane was offered the position of full-time Operator and is now one of Alcoa's Senior Operators.
[Please note: Working from home arrangements depend on the job role and are not able to be offered to all Alcoa employees.]
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