November 2, 2021

Exciting career progression at Aurizon

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Renee Johnson joined Aurizon as a graduate, and ten years later she’s still there as the Manager of Transformation and Integration. She was set up for success with the grad program and is proof you can grow your entire career in Aurizon.

A surprising challenge

Aurizon are an essential component in the supply chain to help meet global consumer needs. Renee says,

“From the outside it may seem like running a railway is relatively simple, however it is surprisingly complex.” 

That complexity has helped make her career interesting as she has evolved through the business. Currently, Renee works in the Coal business unit.

“We are maintaining and operating coal trains on Australia’s largest export coal rail network in Central Queensland.” 

Renee leads a team responsible for developing and implementing process improvements to enable safe, reliable, and cost-effective delivery of coal train services.

“Partnering with the operations, maintenance, customer and planning teams, my team are responsible for managing and influencing the regional strategy, crew deployment efficiency and technical and process improvements.”

With new challenges coming up regularly, there is ample opportunity to learn new things and really make a difference in the business. 

Setting you up for success

Aurizon is invested in helping people succeed, and for Renee that started as a graduate. Without knowing a lot about the company, she was looking for organizations with the best graduate programs during her final year of university and her search led her to Aurizon. Since then, she’s been supported to develop through a range of roles and opportunities. 

“Since commencing with Aurizon as a Human Resources (HR) Graduate in 2011, I have worked across a range of disciplines including HR, Industrial Relations, Maintenance, Operations, Safety and Transformation, in various geographical locations on the east coast. This wide range of experience has made me a better team member, a more rounded leader and has given me a solid foundation to continue building my career on.” 

One of the standout opportunities for Renee was when she was offered a role as a Department Manager at one of Aurizon’s maintenance workshops. 

“I was not long out of the graduate program where I had worked in HR/IR roles and did not have a technical maintenance background, so this opportunity was both terrifying and exciting. This was the moment I realized the breadth of opportunity Aurizon could give me to grow and develop my career.”

Now, she is pushed to grow with stretch targets that build her capability and is supported with regular 1:1 conversations with her manager to keep her on track with achieving her deliverables. Aurizon also focuses on psychological safety, making it safe to try new things, make mistakes and learn from them.

“I have worked in a number of roles where I have been ‘thrown in the deep end’. As a result of my leaders accepting that occasional mistakes will happen, this has given me the freedom to admit my shortcomings, try new things even when I’m not sure it will work and ask for the support I need to develop my skills and capabilities.” 

The focus on development is a foundation for a positive culture that extends to excellent working relationships. 

Where everybody knows your name

Renee loves spending time with family and friends, and her balance at work allows her to do that – she’s learning how to fish on her new boat and practicing her sous chef skills to keep up with her husband in the kitchen!

But her connections don’t stop in her personal life. Strong working relationships are really important to Aurizon. For Renee, the people really set Aurizon apart.

“I have worked in many different teams, in different business units, disciplines and geographical locations and everywhere I have been the people I get to work with have been amazing.” 

The culture is fun and engaging, and they balance their hard work with the right level of fun. 

“We spend too much time at work not to ensure we achieve this balance.”

The focus on culture is key at Aurizon and celebration of their work and each other is fundamental.

“We celebrate lots of things – inclusion, diversity, safety performance, production milestones, birthdays, length of service. We celebrate in a number of ways including BBQs, morning and afternoon tea, gifts, public recognition and sometimes just by saying ‘thank you’.”

For Renee, ten years is just the beginning and she’s looking forward to uncovering even more opportunities at Aurizon. To other people building a career there – and even those people who aren’t sure whether it’s the right place for them, Renee says,

“Back yourself to seek out or take opportunities that Aurizon can offer you. Even if you don’t tick every box, there is lots of excellent support in the business to help you safely stretch yourself outside of your comfort zone.”

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About the Author
Samantha Sutherland is the Chief Storyteller at WORK180. She is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist with an analytical background, making her work evidence-based and data driven. Host of WORK180’s Equality Talks podcast and her own Women at Work, Samantha divides her time between interviewing amazing women for WORK180, mentoring and coaching women in, or aspiring to, leadership roles, and providing high-level advice on diversity practices to Australian corporations. You can learn more about the Samantha Sutherland consultancy at

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job. Check out the latest job vacancies with Aurizon