Viva Energy is proud to be the recipient of two AREEA awards this year. The first award, the AREEA Diversity and Inclusion Award, recognises Viva Energy's ground-breaking Aviation Traineeship Program, and its progress in breaking gender barriers and championing change in the traditionally male-dominated aviation and refuelling sector. The second, the AREEA Industry Future Leader Award, celebrates the Geelong Refinery’s first female shift manager, Jessica Farchione for her remarkable journey and transformative leadership.
A Vision Unveiled: Opportunity within Challenge
In a sector where gender diversity has been historically challenging, we recognised an untapped opportunity. Our aircraft refuelling services at major Australian airports were predominantly held by men due to the physical nature of the roles. Viva Energy embarked on a journey to challenge these norms and create an environment that welcomed women into these roles with open arms.
Creating Solutions through Innovation
To remove barriers and encourage women to consider a career in aviation and refuelling, a detailed review of the requirements of the role was undertaken. This included challenging the licensing requirements, experience needed and reviewing the physical demands traditionally seen as prohibitive for many women.
Previously, truck driving experience, a heavy rigid licence, dangerous goods licence and aviation experience were some of the pre-requisites for the role, narrowing the pool of women applying. However, these qualifications can be gained while ‘learning the job’. So, a traineeship program with no formal pre-requisites was established. This meant that the recruitment process put focus on attributes such as teamwork, customer focus and ability to learn, over licensing and aviation experience, encouraging more women to apply.
By offering a traineeship program that focused on attitude and eagerness to learn over prior qualifications, we broadened our candidate pool. We also introduced practical changes such as using mobile staircases and tailor-made PPE to accommodate a variety of needs for a more diverse workforce.
Structuring shift patterns with a flexibility lens also helped attract a broader group of candidates who otherwise would not have applied.
A Culture of Inclusion
Central to our success was our unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive culture. We engaged with our workforce to establish clear expectations, encourage mentorship, and emphasise the value of diversity.
Measuring the Impact: A New Era of Inclusion
The results speak volumes! Within three years, the number of female refuellers in our aviation services workforce increased from 2% to 14%. This change was not only quantitative; our Engagement Survey data for 2022 revealed substantial improvements. Respondents reported increased satisfaction in areas such as Diversity and Inclusion, Learning and Development, and overall career prospects.
Recognising Emerging Leadership: Jessica Farchione's Inspirational Impact
Viva Energy extends its congratulations to Jessica Farchione, Shift Manager at our Geelong Refinery, for winning the AREEA Industry Future Leader Award. With her exceptional leadership and transformative initiatives, Jessica exemplifies the change we're striving to achieve.
Catalyst for Transformation
Jessica's journey at Viva Energy began as a graduate Chemical Engineer in 2015. Through her passion and commitment, she rose to become the first female and youngest Shift Manager in our refinery's history. Her achievements are not only confined to her role; she actively promotes gender diversity in STEM fields and supports external educational initiatives.
Leading with Impact
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica displayed remarkable agility to promptly adapting the plant design of the Solvents unit to convert the heating medium from slurry to steam. This decoupled the Solvents plant from the rest of the Refinery which was largely shutdown due to COVID-19, allowing Solvents production to continue. . Her involvement in restructuring shift manning during the pandemic ensured both safe operations and the continuation of a major turnaround.
Under Jessica's leadership, the percentage of women in operational roles at the Geelong Refinery has surged to 25%. Her influence is notable, as witnessed in the cultural shift towards inclusivity and the development of female operators.
A Future of Inclusion and Excellence
Viva Energy is committed to steering the industry towards gender equality and equal opportunity for all our employees. Our Female Refueller Initiative and Jessica Farchione's leadership are testament to the power of inclusivity and the possibilities it unlocks. Diversity enhances team performance and contributes to our success, which benefits our employees, customers and shareholders alike. We are committed to continuous improvement, and to offering best practice policies that support our people.