Australia, C&L, Cranes & Lifting, Features

Monadelphous: the symbiosis of many cultures

Monadelphous values a diverse organisational culture.

GM of Monadelphous – Heavy Lift, Lorna Rechichi, elaborates on her career, the fundamental aspects of the Crane Operations Pathway Traineeship program, and the team-first attitude at Monadelphous allowing the company to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

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Back in 2017, Dakota commenced her FIFO journey starting in utilities and moving through catering, becoming a bar manager, then onto site and safety administration.

By her own admission, she was always interested in and fascinated by the crane industry and so, the natural progression was obvious. Four years after entering FIFO, she obtained her dogging and riggers tickets to progress onto site.  Simply working around the machines wasn’t enough, however; Dakota wanted to be the person operating them. Through Monadelphous’ Crane Operations Pathway Traineeship program, she is on a pathway to achieve her wish.

And, for Monadelphous’ General Manager (GM)– Heavy Lift, Lorna Rechichi, Dakota’s experience exemplifies the nature of the innovative program.

“It’s not only about getting training and receiving qualifications,” she says, “but it’s very much about the onsite pace, the team environment and building knowledge of safety and operations by working in different crews and across different work scopes.”

“Monadelphous operates a very large fleet, including pick and carry, rough terrains, all terrains and crawlers, one of the largest for a construction company in the country.  This large fleet and a sustainable customer base provide the basis to successfully deliver this program.”

Having recently won an award from the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s Women in Resources Awards 2024 in the ‘Outstanding Company Initiative’ category, Monadelphous’ Crane Operations Pathway Traineeship program reflects the ASX-listed engineering construction company’s commitment to fostering a more diverse and equitable crane and heavy haulage industry – or, as Lorna puts it, the “problem-solving” industry. The Pathway program was established in 2021 as a direct outcome of the company’s ‘Gender Diversity and Inclusion Plan 2021 – 2024’, which places a focus on removing barriers to women entering trade roles. At face value, it represents an opportunity for workers to undertake a 36-month course to earn nationally recognised tickets and operate cranes with capacities up to 100-tonnes; dig a little deeper, and the program seeks to address the gender disparity that sees only three per cent female representation in the crane operating profession. It achieves this by actively promoting the participation of women and Indigenous peoples in the crane industry, providing training, support, mentorship, real life experience and – most importantly – a permanent role and a long-term career pathway at Monadelphous. 

“It’s been a great success in terms of being able to attract and retain people, and it comes with a large amount of focus on making sure they’ve got access to mentors, the correct teams to support them, and our onsite leadership’s motivation and engagement to deliver the program,” says Lorna. “We’re providing real-world training and skill development, and the trainees are embracing the opportunities it creates and building a career for themselves. During that process, we’re also building a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”

The program only represents one part of Monadelphous’ team efforts to foster a more diverse and inclusive working environment. Lorna’s professional career extends beyond Australia’s borders, beginning with PwC in the United Kingdom in 1997 before shifting to Australia in 2002, working in the USA – in Portland, Oregon – in and among her travels. Throughout her time, she’s worked across multiple sectors including power, utilities, manufacturing and retail, before moving to the resources and energy sector, working and collaborating with blue-collar and white-collar teams. It’s this diverse and different experience across multiple organisations that provides her with the key understanding of the complexity of international, multi-faceted businesses.

“Different countries, and different companies, hold very different cultures,” she says. “I think that the ability to be able to understand, engage and motivate people from different backgrounds so they respect that everybody is different, is one of the challenges I’ve enjoyed most throughout my career.”

For Lorna, and the wider team at Monadelphous, embracing the diverse cultures, ideas and thinking is what fosters progress. Empirically, this notion is substantiated by global research firm, the McKinsey Institute, whose 2023 ‘Diversity Matters Even More’ report found that the business case for inclusion and diversity was “stronger than ever” after it revealed that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity and ethnic and cultural diversity were 39 per cent more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies in the fourth quartile.

Monadelphous values a diverse organisational culture.
Monadelphous recently won the ‘Outstanding Company Initiative’ for its Crane Operations Pathway Traineeship. Image: Monadelphous.

 Importantly, however, for Lorna and the team at Monadelphous, it’s about driving the fundamental behavioural attitudes that demonstrate respect, which allows companies to become more inclusive and embrace the benefits of diversity. This is entrenched within the culture at Monadelphous. Citing the company’s ‘Respect at Monadelphous’ program to guide a no-tolerance approach to harassment, Lorna says the entire team at Monadelphous is committed to addressing the first sign of any potential behavioural problems to ensure everyone that comes to work feels respected, valued, and so they can bring the best of themselves as an individual in both a skilled and social sense. The industry has a duty to build respectful cultures where inclusive behaviours are the norm.

“Fundamentally, it’s a behavioural driven thing,” she says. “We have all experienced behaviours at some point in life that we do not agree with. The industry needs to be addressing behaviours relating to bullying, harassment, intimidation, abuse, anything like that, at the first sign of its appearance,” she says. “And I think the important thing is that when we address these issues, we’ve got the greater good of the industry, workforce, and society in mind – not just a stop-gap solution.”

Holistic solutions must be what drive social change for the better in the crane and heavy haulage industries because, according to Lorna, people must be celebrated for their differences and what they can bring to the job. At the core of fdiversity is not just gender; it’s embracing different cultures, thought patterns, experiences and practices.

“For me, I want to celebrate being a woman because of the unique set of values we bring to any workforce,” she says. “The advice to a young person –male, female, or non-binary – is have confidence in your unique self, be true to yourself and the values and the passion that you can bring, because your team will be all the better for it.”

It’s these attitudes that permeate through the operations, recruitment, training and support teams at Monadelphous that, in turn, allows initiatives such as the ‘Respect at Monadelphous’ and Crane Operations Pathway Traineeship Program to succeed, paving the way for people such as Dakota to enter the industry and be celebrated for who they are and what they bring. 

Aptonymically named ‘Monadelphous’, meaning the unity of filamens and stamens in a flower to create a better collective, the company prides itself on its ability to grow careers from different backgrounds. As Lorna points out, for every Dakota, there’s also a Sophia, a Jillian, and a Norma that also flourish because of their own personal drive and the surrounding team’s commitment to enhancing their prospects.

“It’s not ever down to any individual,” she says. “Really everybody you work with is all about the team, and the team is what drives success.” 

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