It was the end of April 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was really starting to send the world into a spin, when Annemie Kotze found herself atop the Bunya mountains. From the serene peak of these spectacular wilderness ranges she was astounded by the beauty she saw. But she also felt a crackle of excitement at the sight of the Tarong power station owned by Stanwell shimmering in the distance. “That’s where I work now!”
Earlier that very month, Annemie had taken on the role of ICT Program Director at Stanwell. In her role she administers a multimillion-dollar budget across multiple projects. These projects include cutting edge technologies that meet the demanding market requirements of the electricity industry. She leads diverse teams made up of Stanwell employees, contractors and supplier consultants.
“I’ve been really lucky to find something that suits me and my leadership style, and where I feel like I’m adding value in terms of the challenges facing the business.”
We spoke to Annemie to learn more about her experiences as a leader since joining Stanwell.
Her path to Stanwell
Annemie has lived in Australia now for over 15 years, but she was born in South Africa. She has lived in New Zealand, and now she’s an Australian citizen. She says it’s always been very important to her to remain true to her South African heritage while absorbing as much as possible from her new environments.
“It poses a few challenges in terms of loyalty to a single team for rugby though.”
She’s also transformed her career many times too. Starting out as a developer, then business analyst, then project manager, her career has always involved the IT industry in some way or another. But she’s grateful how her role with Stanwell balances her IT knowledge with her love for people management.
“My job is to remove hurdles. I also strongly believe in developing people. I have a caring and strategic leadership style. I like to discuss with my team the challenges they’re facing and the ways they can grow to achieve their best. It’s also my job to look forward and understand why we are doing what we’re doing. It’s important to me that there’s a bigger purpose to what we do.”
Finding her place at Stanwell
Annemie remembers being even more energized to come back to work after her hike up in the Bunya Mountains. Not just because being out in nature is one of her favorite ways to recharge her batteries, but because she loves that there are always new challenges for her to tackle at work.
“It’s the small moments, people trusting you with their story and having the chance to be there for them. As a leader, people tell you so much. When their family’s ill, when they’re having tough relationships, the career choices they’re debating. That trust makes me really excited to come back to work.”
She admits knowing little about Stanwell as a company before she started working there but was blown away by the warmth and genuine attitude of the people she met as she walked in for her interview.
“The relationships here are very strong. There are some very frank and fierce conversations sometimes, but it’s because people really care and are not afraid to show it.”
Stanwell’s company values are ‘We care, we adapt, we deliver!” and they really resonate with Annemie. Since joining the organization, she’s seen how pervasively these values are felt among everyone she’s met.
What’s special about Stanwell
What surprised Annemie most when she started working at Stanwell was the level of trust and autonomy she has in her role, considering the nature of the business. Stanwell is a big government-owned corporation, with a mine and two large power stations, so Annemie was surprised by the level of decision-making authority she had.
“I have been given the freedom to run, while still being supported by amazing people. The executive leadership support is exceptional.”
In her past Annemie has worked in environments that have been quite toxic, and Stanwell has been a balm for her dented confidence. Having the opportunity to offer so much value and seeing the impact she has in her role has been very important to her.
She also shared three of her other favorite benefits at Stanwell:
- The learning and development opportunities: “There’s a huge focus on developing people here. I’ve been on more training courses in the last year than any of the other companies I’ve worked for.”
- Flexible working: “It’s very important that we are trusted to do what we need to do, and that we’re offered the flexibility for our life outside of work.”
- Investment in health and safety: “There’s great benefits in terms of parental leave, employee referral programs and insurance products, in addition to free skin checks and flu vaccines. But there’s also an effort to create a psychologically safe place to work. Where people have an ear when they need it, and we can bring our whole selves. Training programs on suicide prevention and support for our colleagues are also run regularly.”
Looking forward, and lending a hand behind
While hiking the mountains in Bunya was a challenge, she had to overcome with only the support of her partner, her journey with Stanwell has been far from lonely.
“I have been really fortunate to work for amazing managers who have invested in me, allowed me to develop through their mentorship and eventually became my friends. There are some really really smart people who work here. Anyone looking to join the team should be ready and resilient to face challenges but know they won’t be facing them alone.”
In return Annemie hopes from her position she can pay forward the kindness and support she has found here.
“Working with people inspires me. We’ve all got dreams and goals and if I can help others achieve their dreams, I feel humbled by that. I think Stanwell is a great place to achieve those career and personal dreams.”