It’s rare in the 21st century to find someone that 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, which is part of the global Linde Group.
Her passion dates back to her school years where she had a keen interest in science. This initially saw her being interested in vet science or physio as potential career options, but after a summer camp promoting Women in Science and Engineering at UNSW, Ms. Hiller found herself drawn to the technical and problem solving world of engineering.
“In the summer holidays between year 11 and 12, there was a summer camp at the University of New South Wales called Women in Science and Engineering. That was the first time I ever heard and found out what engineering was and thought this is exactly the kind of thing that I would enjoy doing,” she explains.
Ms. Hiller 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, she 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 Ms. Hiller 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
“As part of BOC’s energy management strategy and commitment to sustainability, we are currently rolling out solar PV to approximately 50 sites across Australia with an installed capacity of 1.5 megawatts 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 Ms. Hiller, 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 down one of its major production plants to provide extra capacity to the grid when it was under excessive pressure.
“I think this is part of the sustainable way forward. Instead of having to add new capacity into the electricity market and build additional expensive non-renewable power generation, if industry can come together and participate in these schemes, then during extreme conditions the electricity grid will be able to cope without the costly extra electricity infrastructure.
“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,” Ms. Hiller says.
She says it’s important to live and work in accordance with your 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.
She adds that being in a more visible role in engineering, she hopes to show other young women out there that it is possible to have a long and rewarding career in engineering where every day is interesting and stimulating.
As a sponsor of the Women in Industry Awards, Ms. Hiller says BOC is proud to be part of a night showcasing the best and brightest across a range of diverse career roles.
Roads & Infrastructure Magazine, a media partner to the awards, is encouraging leaders achieving excellence in the engineering and infrastructure sector to be part of the event.
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,” Ms. Hiller says.