An enduring career

An enduring career

Waste Management Review speaks to BOC’s Jacquie Hiller about how the gas and engineering company is reducing its carbon footprint.

It’s rare in the 21st century to find someone who has spent most of their career with one company, as modern estimates predict future graduates will have as many as 17 different jobs in their lifetime across five different careers.

Jacquie Hiller has spent most of her three-decade career as an engineer for the industrial gas and engineering company, BOC – part of the global Linde Group. 

Her passion dates back to her schooling years where she had a keen interest in science. This initially saw her being interested in veterinary science or physiotherapy as potential career options, but after a summer camp promoting women in science and engineering at UNSW, Jacquie found herself drawn to the technical and problem solving world of engineering.

Jacquie studied chemical engineering at the University of Sydney in the late ‘80s and was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to join the engineering cadetship program at BOC (formerly known as CIG) during this time. 

Having thoroughly enjoyed university and the cadetship, Jacquie went on to work for BOC commissioning cryogenic air separation units as well as hydrogen and carbon dioxide plants in remote locations across Australia and Indonesia. Other roles have included logic programming and project engineering, all involving cryogenic liquid and gas production facilities. 

“In the late ‘90s I went back to study to be a physio and remained as a contractor working on programming for BOC,” she says.

But her zeal to work as an engineer and solve day-to-day challenges with logic and technical expertise remained strong, and five years later Jacquie rejoined BOC as a process engineer in 2014.

She has since moved into the role of Energy Manager for BOC South Pacific Region, working mainly in optimising the procurement and demand side management of electricity. She is also involved in efficiency schemes to reduce BOC’s energy consumption, minimise gas losses and maximise efficiency. The projects are not only commercially beneficial, but reduce the overall carbon footprint.

“As part of BOC’s energy management strategy and commitment to sustainability we are currently rolling out solar photovoltaics to approximately 50 sites across Australia with an installed capacity of 1.5 megawatt with a potential to double this in the second stage of the solar program.”

Efficiency and sustainability are embedded in BOC and its parent company Linde. Linde has developed specialised equipment and gas treatments that enable environmental benefits such as increasing recyclable water rates by up to 70 per cent and reducing fuel use and emissions in parts of the steel-making process by 50 per cent.

BOC and Linde are also involved in pioneering renewable hydrogen projects for use in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in many regions around the world. 

“BOC has also invested with the CSIRO to develop technology to enable the green hydrogen supply chain so that hydrogen can be exported to Japan and other parts of Asia where it is in high demand, but difficult to produce from renewable sources. We are working with Australian Renewable Energy Agency to see if we can get some of those technologies off the ground,” she says.

According to Jacquie, best practice environmental leadership encompasses a shared responsibility. For example, BOC participates in demand-side management, which offers the company commercial incentives but also assists in supporting the electricity network in times of peak demand in order to reduce blackouts.  This occurred recently during the extreme temperature periods in SA and Victoria when BOC responded to requests to shut one of its major production plants to provide extra capacity to the grid when it was under excessive pressure. 

“In 10 years, the electricity grid will have undergone further remarkable change with more renewables and better means of energy storage which will place us in a better position. The key is how we all pull together to get to this future state,” Jacquie says.

She adds that it’s important to live and work in accordance with own values and lead by example.

“Leadership is about living and working toward your aspirations in a positive, spirited manner that then inspires those around you. There are many females that start in engineering roles but there is also a high attrition rate potentially because of the lack of female leaders in engineering,” she says. 

Being in a more visible role in engineering, she hopes to inspire other young women out there and show that it is possible to have a long and rewarding career in engineering, where every day is interesting and stimulating.

As a sponsor to Women in Industry, Jacquie says BOC is proud to be part of a night showcasing the best and brightest across a range of diverse career roles.

Waste Management Review, a media partner to the awards, is encouraging leaders in the sector achieving excellence in the waste and resource recovery to put their names forward as nominees. The Women in Industry Awards recognise outstanding women from across the mining, engineering, manufacturing, road transport, logistics, infrastructure, rail, bulk handling and waste industries.

The awards aim to raise the profile of women within industry, as well as promote and encourage excellence. 

“It is very inspiring to hear of the achievements of other women and their diverse technical skills as well as their unique approaches to leadership. There are always take-outs that can help motivate and inspire back in your own workplace,” Jacquie says. 

Women in Industry will take place on Thursday, 6 June, 2019 at The Park, Albert Park, Melbourne. Nominations will remain open until 29 March 2019.

It is free to submit a nomination, and an individual can be nominated in up to three separate categories.

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