Lucy Stocker was once trapped in a toilet with a brown snake. The experience taught her a few things about navigating the workplace, as well as what to do when you have to defend yourself against a dangerous animal. The engineer, first ever job-sharing general manager in the resources sector and now director of Diversity Miner, is the latest of our ‘Real Role Models’ to answer our Q&A about life and work.
After a long and successful career with large mining organisations I made a radical career change last year to pursue innovation, diversity and change in the resources sector. Through Diversity Miner, I work with resources sector companies to support them with their inclusion strategies. Resourceful Women was established to provide links between the fascinating and talented women I have met through the resources sector and companies who want to employ them.
Describe an average day for you.
There are no average days. It ranges from attending board meetings, mentoring women in the resources sector, working with multinational mining companies on change to running diversity and unconscious bias workshops.
How did you get there? (Did you wing it or plan it?)
Neither. I’m allergic to planning but I love research. I knew that the resources sector had the lowest representation of women in its ranks and Western Australia had the highest pay gap. I wanted to do something about both so I left my senior, safe corporate job and set up two companies to do just that. I’m working out the details as I go!
How do you manage the logistics of your career and your life outside of work?
I married well. My partner is a successful professional and brilliant in the home. He believes in equality as firmly as I do. Our individual professional and entrepreneurial lives are really important and we work hard to share cooking, cleaning, shopping and the raising of two little boys, 14 fish and a dog.
What is the easiest part of your working week? and/or What is the hardest part of your working week?
Fitting in exercise and getting out the door 5 times per week is the hardest. The most satisfying is meeting people from the sector I work in who are determined to change it too. The best part is Friday evening with my family.
How do you think your younger self would view your current career?
I would not have believed it. I thought that you selected a degree, a single career followed and you stayed, albeit moving through higher levels, until you retired. Thankfully I was completely wrong. Taking opportunities as they come and being interested in new ideas, has guided me so far. Five years ago, I was appointed to be the first job-sharing general manager in the resources sector. My younger self thought children would inhibit my career. In fact the determination to challenge my organisation to do something different provided the one of the greatest career opportunities I have ever experienced.
If someone else out there wants to develop a career like yours what advice would you give them?
Don’t over analyse the future. As far as we know, scientists and astrologers have not cracked predicting what’s going to happen in one day, certainly not five years. Work hard on your relationships (not just those of your immediate superior) and never knock back a new opportunity.
Have you got any anecdotes about your career or daily life you’d like to share?
I was working night shift at a mine once and had to go to the toilet at around 1 am. All the other employees were out on the equipment, driving trucks, loading blast holes, drilling etc. I drove myself to the remote crib room, unclipped my radio and went in. In that minute or so, I was there, a two metre dugite (brown snake) came between me and the door. There was no window. I faced the real possibility of being alone with this snake until 6am when the next shift came in and there may be another woman needing to use the toilet. First I tried asking the snake. My sternest ‘shoo’ with stopped feet did nothing. Then I tried moving the snake. Looking around the cubicle for utensils, the only things that weren’t fixed to the walls was a toilet brush and a bin. The brush was too short for my snake-wrangling abilities so I simply pitched it at the snake. There was momentary alarm but he stayed put. Asking and moving was not working so that left me jumping. The bin was emptied on the floor, I took a deep breath and leapt from the top of the toilet, towards the door, aiming the bin opening at the snakes head. I made it out safety. The same can not be said for the snake.
The moral to my story:
* When you find snakes in the workplace; ask them to leave, move them or jump. It’s not likely that anyone else is going to come along and move the snake for you.
* Jumping is the bravest, most exhilarating and satisfying option.