Kathy George - winner of the 2014 National Women in Resources award

Just get in there and have a go and don’t expect any special treatment, is Kathy George’s advice to women entering the male-dominated mining and minerals industry.

It is a mantra that has been serving Kathy nicely over her 33 year career which started aged 19 with an apprenticeship at Nyrstar Hobart, formerly the Electrolytic Zinc Company.  Kathy was the only female out of a workforce of 1,000 working on the plant site.

And now Kathy’s success has been recognised by winning the Outstanding Australian Tradeswomen/ operator/ technician category at the Women in Resources National Award in Brisbane on 1 September 2014.  This is the first time the awards have been held.

“The benefit of the awards is to get the focus out there and get more women involved in male-oriented jobs,” Kathy says.

“I hope it will encourage women to progress and not stand back and let males dominate the higher-end positions.  At the end of the day we only get out of something what we put into it and they will see that their efforts will be recognised.”

At Nyrstar Hobart, Kathy completed a dual trade apprenticeship as an A grade electrician and as an industrial instrument mechanic and was awarded State Electrical apprenticeship of the year at EZ and state wide.

Kathy has been running her own business for 28 years and she is the owner and manager of Total Instrument Controls.  Her company supplies statewide process control instruments to the mines as well as Boags, Cascade, Tas Water and many other industrial sites around the State. Kathy has also worked as a Tradesperson on various sites around Tasmania and under contract to Roxby Downs in SA to name a few.

 “We are able to measure or control flow, level, temperature, pressure, analytical and other variables in a process in such industries as mining, petro chemical, water and wastewater, food and beverage,” she explains.

About 15 years ago Kathy became the first person in the world to repair a specific piece of electronic equipment for underground drilling machines.  Until that point they were throwing the expensive pieces of equipment away and replacing with new.   She is still doing the repairs which are shipped from her business to various mine sites around Australia.

“I still very much enjoy my career and my greatest pleasure is fixing my customers process/plant problems.”

Kathy married her former husband in 1982 and on the completion of her apprenticeship moved to Geelong and worked at the Shell Oil Refinery. Her next move was to Warrego in the Northern Territory to work on a goldmine where they set up their own business.  After 12 months on finding that she was pregnant they returned to Hobart to continue with their own business and working with E.Z. to help develop and manufacture On Stream Analytical equipment which was sold not only in Australia but also to overseas customers, a technology which is still in use today. 

Her children, Emma (26) and Chris (24) now work for Kathy’s business with both following in her footsteps with an instrumentation trade. 

“Having Emma and Chris working for the business is working out very well,” Kathy says.  “It provides me with more opportunity to promote and grow the business.

Her work has switched from service to mostly selling and engineering supply.  “I made a point of taking on the best brands and sticking with the same four ones.  That way you get the best support, they know you’re loyal to the product and not switching brands.”

In Kathy’s spare time she is not one to sit around.  Her hobbies include running, bike riding, paddling, fast cars, motor bike riding, diving and travel.  She also provides talks and support to long term unemployed to help them seek employment and motivate them to better their situation through further education and training.