The Australian Pipeliner spoke with Austrack General Manager Donna Owens to discuss how the company is making a difference in a historically male-dominated industry.
More and more bastions of what was once a male dominated sector have been breached, and Austrack is a testimony to that.
Austrack General Manager Donna Owens is very much a case in point. She is busy. She is focused. She is driven.
And she is clearly at home managing all the complexity of the rapidly expanding heavy machinery business that Austrack has grown into.
Owens forms a powerful tandem with Austrack Managing Director Michael Benson, as there is hardly a decision of any import made at Austrack without her input.
“My background in pipelining goes back to when I first arrived in Australia,” Owens said.
She worked on the Western Corridor Pipeline in Brisbane in 2006, where she first met Benson.
“Through a succession of pipeline projects, we are still working together almost 20 years later,” Owens said.
“I worked on the Sugarloaf pipeline in Victoria and onto a succession of gas pipeline projects in Queensland and before I knew it, I was a pipeliner.”
Owens spends her days directing operations at the yard, making sure that the equipment that’s chosen is right for the job, ensuring all the contractual paperwork is in place with the customer, and that all equipment leaving the Austrack yard meets all necessary safety and documentation and performance criteria.
She is equally adept at negotiating hire rates and dealing with finance and legal and human resource matters. There’s nothing at Austrack she doesn’t touch. Often, Owens is described as the “beating heart” of the company.
Originally from Ireland, Owens found herself in the Australian pipeline universe because “the great Australian outdoors is everything that Ireland is not”.
“I loved it and when I first got into pipelining,” Owens said. “I had found my niche.
“I loved the satisfaction of seeing a project progress on to its conclusion and I enjoyed the camaraderie and the shared goal that pipeline construction entails.”
This new career path was lifechanging for Owens. It is here she discovered there was a place for a detailed person like her, in a “whole glorious scrum”.
“And now that I have been at Austrack for nearly 10 years, I have discovered that the attention to detail is a requirement in this activity too,” she said.
Owens is all about the Austrack mentality – delivering quality now.
“One of our company’s catch cries is ‘we make it happen’ and I would like to think that’s more than just a catchy slogan. It’s what we do.”
She’s been there from the company’s very early days and couldn’t be prouder of what the company has achieved.
“Lots of hard work, early starts, late finishes and the satisfaction of seeing the inexorable growth of a company that had ambition and a plan to go with it,” she said.
“Look at us now. Our machines and attachments number well beyond a thousand.
“Among our customer base is the crème de la crème of pipeline contracting.”
Austrack benefits from the preferred customer status, inlcuding working with major manufacturers such as Caterpillar, Komatsu, Hitachi and Superior.
“We are blessed with great staff who every day show us what can be achieved with us all pulling in one direction. So, we think we have got the trifecta at Austrack,” Owens said.
“Great customers, great suppliers and great staff.”
According to Owens Austrack wouldn’t be the same without its amazing team.
“Almost all our staff come with a background in on-site pipelining, and we have all been at the coalface,” she said.
“I like to think we have earned our stripes. We are uniquely qualified to understand the requirements of our customers.”
When Owens is out socially and she tells people what she does, she’s frequently asked if she likes her job.
“I say yes – but it’s a lie because I love my job,” she said.
For more information, visit austrackequipment.com.au.
This article featured in the January edition of The Australian Pipeliner.