Louise Warner

University of New South Wales
Executive General Manager Fuels & Infrastructure
Louise Warner studied Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) at University of New South Wales.

What's your name and job title? What did you study? When did you graduate?
Position: Louise Warner, Executive General Manager Fuels & Infrastructure.

I was appointed as Caltex Australia’s Executive General Manager Fuels & Infrastructure in 2017.Zwift In this role, I am responsible for the safe and reliable supply of high quality fuels, lubricants and related services for our valued customers across Australia and New Zealand.

I joined Caltex in 1999 as a Caltex Graduate. My career has spanned a range of roles within the company, starting as a process engineer at the Kurnell refinery.  I enjoy technical work, which led me to work in range of project and supply roles, including major investments in assets and systems for Caltex. I gained commercial and trading experience through my secondment to Chevron UK. Recently, I was responsible for successfully establishing Caltex Australia’s first overseas operations, Ampol Singapore, which includes the company’s global trading and shipping function. I have combined all of this experience in my current role, given that the Fuels & Infrastructure business unit incorporates all of the wholesale commercial and operating functions for Caltex Australia, including B2B Sales who serve large and small businesses across Australia, Ampol Trading & Shipping in Singapore, Lytton refinery in Brisbane, Distribution assets (terminals, pipelines, depots, aviation) across Australia, and Gull New Zealand

I have a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) from the University of New South Wales.

Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)

I grew up in Queensland.  I think that I was bred to be an engineer, with my father working as a civil draftsman and property developer and my mother trained as a science teacher.  I attended a large public high school in Townsville, where there was a strong focus on finding the right subjects for each student, whether this was maths and science in my case or initial steps towards a trade apprentice for some of my friends.  I had the opportunity to attend the National Science Youth Forum at the end of Year 11 at school, which opened my eyes to the possibilities of careers. I was then successful in winning a Co-op Scholarship in Chemical Engineering at UNSW, which allowed me to work for about 18 months during my degree across different industries.  This gave me a better understanding of the type of work I liked.

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?

The great part of working at a company like Caltex is that you get the opportunity to work across a wide range of roles, even if you come from a particular background.  I have been encouraged during my career to try new roles and I enjoy learning new parts of our business and industry, including taking on challenges. In combination, I think this is how I developed the experience needed to be successfully appointed to my current role.  My role has evolved and grown during 2017, and I have been part of the Caltex Leadership Team since October 2016.

Your work

What does your employer do?

Caltex Australia is the leading transportation fuels supplier in Australia and also operates in New Zealand and Singapore.  While best known for our high quality fuels and lubricants, we are also growing as a business to expand our offer of convenience products.

What are your areas of responsibility?  I oversee the Fuels & Infrastructure team.  As well as ensuring our day-to-day operations are always safe and we are meeting our customers’ needs. I work with the teams across Caltex to develop our future strategy and the changes we need to make in our business.  Caltex is an ASX listed business and plays a key role in the communities we operate in across Australia and New Zealand, and so I am responsible for representing Fuels & Infrastructure and Caltex in Board sessions and external forums.

Can you describe a typical work day? 

It is very different each day!  While my base is in our headquarters in Sydney, my team is located across Australia and in New Zealand and Singapore.  We have just made an investment in Seaoil in the Philippines and we engage with our customers and suppliers across the world.  So I can find myself in the refinery, at a terminal, meeting with a customer to understand their needs, seeing our suppliers or engaging with our Board.

Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills it would beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?  I think every career is different and I have had the opportunity to set my own path.  I think it is important to consider what you are good at and what your areas of interest are.  I benefited greatly from work experience during my degree and I would strongly encourage all students to take every opportunity for practical experience so that they can better assess how their education plays out in the work place (this can be quite different to school and university).

What sort of person succeeds in your career?

There are many ways of being successful in a career path.  The one attribute that is common to many successful people is to be willing to take on new challenges and to learn new skills.

Pros and cons

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?

I have the good fortune of working with a wide range of people and in different operations.  I really enjoy the direct connection we have at Caltex between what we do each day and how we make a difference to our customers.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Is your job physically demanding?

I am lucky to work with a team who are very capable and knowledgeable about our business.  We have a lot of opportunities ahead of us and across different time zones, and so I often find myself working at unusual times to chase them down.  My role is no longer physically demanding, but as a process engineer, I used to really enjoy the physical work on the plant.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?

Not sure!  I have already had a number of different roles, so have had a chance to try different things within one “career”.  This is the benefit of having a strong foundation in engineering and then working with an employer who provides opportunity to try new things.

A word to the wise...

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

Get practical experience, find something you enjoy and are good at, and don’t hesitate to take on a new challenge even if you think you are out of your depth (in general people won’t give you the opportunity if they don’t think you can do it!).