In just five years, Alcoa employee Sharron Freitas has climbed the ladder from a resources industry rookie to a finalist in the 2017 Chamber of Minerals and Energy Women in Resources Awards.
A North Yunderup resident, Sharron is a finalist in the ‘Outstanding Operator / Technician / Trade Woman in Resources’ category along with Chevron’s Karen Montford and Rio Tinto’s Kestin Rek.
The prestigious Women in Resources Awards, run by the Western Australian Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME), recognise individual excellence and outstanding contributions to the State’s resources sector and serve to promote positive role models to young women considering a career in the industry.
After entering the sector in 2011 through a traineeship at Pinjarra alumina refinery, Sharron has quickly shown the key to success is having the determination to learn new things and the drive to overcome obstacles.
Sharron obtained her Certificate III in Process Plant Operations in 2012, four months ahead of schedule, and then secured a full-time operator role at the refinery’s bauxite mills where she worked with industrial grinders, crushers and conveyors used to grind and transport the ore.
Motivated to succeed, within six months of becoming a full-time operator Sharron was appointed the refinery’s first female mills control attendant. Over the next few years and with the aim of developing her leadership skills, she pursued a range of secondment opportunities with the most recent as Operations Centre Group Leader which sees her manage 21 people across five work crews.
"I’ve always been fascinated to try new things and after raising three children, owning a small business, undertaking university studies and representing WA in touch football, I was excited my next chapter was to be in the impressive resources industry," Sharron said.
"I had no prior industry experience except by association as my partner has been a fly-in fly-out underground miner for 24 years.
"Key to my success has been a strong work ethic, flexibility, giving and earning respect and contributing to a happy and safe workplace.
"Early on I thought my biggest challenges were going to occur because of the lack of gender diversity but nothing did, it’s the technical side of things keeping me on my toes.
"I hope my story is inspirational to young women considering their employment options, as this industry, and Alcoa especially, is so supportive of women."
Alcoa of Australia Managing Director Michael Parker congratulated Sharron on her finalist accolade.
"Sharron’s achievements are a wonderful example of what a supportive, inclusive work environment enables; she is a very deserving finalist," Michael said.
"As a business we stand the best chance of attracting and retaining the best people, like Sharron, by providing an environment where diversity of gender and thought is encouraged. This remains central to our talent management and recruitment strategies."
Sharron is also eligible to win the CME’s People’s Choice Award. Vote at www.cmewa.com/news-and-events/upcoming-events/women-in-resources-awards/2017-finalists. The awards ceremony will be held on Friday 3 March 2017 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.