What's your job about?
Western Power is a critical infrastructure company that is owned by the Western Australian State Government. Our primary job is to facilitate the provision of traditional and renewable energy sources to the Western Australian public by providing and maintaining the power grid.
Currently I work in the operational systems team within the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Function, and my role is much akin to that of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) Systems Technician. The purpose of my team is to develop, maintain and provide critical SCADA-related applications to the business.
Our key ‘customer’ is the internal team that looks after network operations.
My responsibilities include developing and maintaining the monitoring system application that my team uses to provide visibility across all our assets. This involves both project management (coordinating with different individuals and teams to deliver the service) and hands-on technical work (maintaining and ‘spinning up’ the servers). I am also partly responsible for one of our critical SCADA applications, which sees me completing tasks such as security patch and version update deployment and release through our different environments.
If I had to describe my role to a teenager, I’d liken my role to completing the gritty ‘behind-the-scenes’ work to ensure that our SCADA applications work as intended and are secure. Think of it like the series ‘Mr Robot’ or the character ‘Q’ from ‘James Bond, except far cooler!
What's your background?
I’m a proud Perth local, and spent most of my childhood at the beach in my hometown of Rockingham with my family and dogs. Throughout my childhood I was heavily involved in various sports, and practiced taekwondo at a high level - I’m still undefeated at competition-level to this day! I was also an extremely competitive swimmer and trained in the national development squad until my mid-teens.
Regarding education, I went to school in Rockingham and was lucky enough to go on student-exchange in high-school to Japan! On this trip I got the chance to travel to various cities and towns such as Akō, Kyoto, Nagasaki, and Tokyo - this had a huge impact on my life, and I’ve returned to Japan several times since.
Following high-school I started studying at Murdoch University, and bounced around courses for a while. This was both beneficial and problematic, and I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do, however it also allowed me to try a large variety of different courses across multiple disciplines. I finally settled on a multi-disciplinary Bachelor of Arts, and later completed a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security at ECU and am complimenting this with a Master of Cyber Security.
I got my start at Western Power in the Summer Internship Program, which runs for around three months every year starting in November. Following this, I was fortunate enough to be offered a place on the graduate program! I’ve now been at the company for around seven months.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely! ICT is a unique industry in that it is highly accessible for almost anyone in the modern world; all you need is access to a computer! There are also a wide variety of avenues to enter the industry, including formal education either at TAFE or University. Opportunities do also exist for those who are self-taught, such as careers in programming.
Some key skills that are required in my line of work are adaptability (being able to act and think under pressure), critical thinking and problem solving (being able to think outside the box and devise unique solutions to problems), and most importantly communication skills. My job requires interaction with a broad variety of individuals across the business and being able to communicate effectively is crucial.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
There are two main things I love about my job. The first is the variety; as a Business Graduate I get to rotate to various areas across the business which allows me to experience firsthand how the various parts of the business all work together to form one, well-oiled machine.
The second thing I love about my job is the level of responsibility. I get to take charge and work on projects that solve real-world problems, and create legitimate value for the business, my co-workers and in turn the people of Western Australia!
What are the limitations of your job?
One of the primary limitations to my job is that at times the workload can be quite intensive, and there are often situations where I am thrown into the deep end. This is easily offset however by my teammates, who go out of their way to offer advice, expertise and support when required.
Another key limitation is my personal understanding of the technology that we use, as it is borderline impossible to gain experience in SCADA systems unless you work for a critical infrastructure company.
Having said that, I see these as challenges to overcome, not necessarily limitations. - The most common limitations are those we place on ourselves.
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