“We view the Orica Women in Engineering Scholarship as being mutually beneficial to both students and Orica. It supports students to excel and achieve their goals, and in return it is hoped that they will choose organisations such as Orica when they start their professional careers,” says Orica’s Talent and Organisation Capability Senior Consultant, Robert Verrall.
An Australian mining services company with global operations, Orica has a diverse workforce of over 12,000 people servicing customers across more than 100 countries. The company has an above average number of women across its senior leadership team and graduate program but says that it is on a continual journey of diversity.
“It is important that we have a sustainable pipeline of women for specialist and leadership roles across the organisation – especially in science and engineering,” says Verrall.
In discussing how the scholarship program supports individuals, Verrall says: “Scholarships to support students through their tertiary studies is one way we can encourage young women to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) pathways at school and hopefully make life a little easier when university starts. With some financial support, we hope students can focus on becoming the scientist or engineer they dream of being.
“Another reason to support initiatives such as the UNSW Women in Engineering Program, is because diversity in business is now – more than ever - recognised as a critical element of business success. Orica is a global organisation with a large number of employees from countries outside of Australia and it is well recognised by our employees that having a diverse range of people who think differently from one another helps make us collectively smarter, which is good for business and good for employees,” Mr Verrall adds.
Orica Women in Civil Engineering Scholarship
2016 Recipient: Janice Lai
Degree: Bachelor of Music/Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering
Benefit: $10,000 each year for 4 years plus industrial training at Orica during the summer break
Janice Lai was inspired to become an engineer because she was interested in how engineers contribute to making the world a better place. She found herself captivated by the fact that engineering projects do not have a set solution and much of the work requires critical thinking. “I realised that engineering would allow me to use my creativity to not only overcome challenges in society, but also to fulfil my personal desire to contribute to society in some way,” she says.
Another key driver for Janice has been an interest in challenging the perception that engineering is a male occupation and a desire to be part of the movement to readdress the gender imbalance. “Despite always wanting to be an engineer, I was definitely aware that engineering has one of the most unbalanced gender ratios in any career. As a female, I realised that by studying engineering I might have the opportunity to promote this field to young women who may not know much about it.”
Janice was incredibly honoured to receive the scholarship which she is says is an important personal achievement. She is also thrilled that it helps solve any financial problems, allowing her to spend more time focusing on her studies.
Although she doesn’t know what she wants to do when she graduates, Janice hopes to work in the engineering field. “I would be really interested in an opportunity to work overseas for a company like Orica – the company sponsoring my scholarship. This will allow me to see what engineering is like in other countries, giving me more experience that can help me in the future.”