Ellaina Mackay talks accessibility in mining and work-life balance
We recently had the pleasure to speak with Ellaina Mackay, National Product & Marketing Manager at Flexco about her pioneering product research focusing on accessibility, the stigma surrounding the mining industry in younger generations, and navigating a good work-life balance as a new mother.
Tell us how you got to be Flexco’s National Product & Marketing Manager?
I started working at Flexco in 2018 as a Marketing Coordinator. In 2020, I asked my Managing Director for a challenge, I had accomplished all the goals I had set for myself in my current role and wanted to learn something new. We had a strong need for a Product Manager in Australia, and I was more than happy to take on the challenge! I began my second tertiary qualification in Product Management alongside learning on the job. Flexco was fantastic in supporting me to reach my career goals and sponsored my further education.
How is your research in innovative product development supporting women, and why this is so meaningful for you?
I think women can do absolutely anything. However, I feel the manual aspects of a career in mining can be intimidating at times. When I trial new products in-house knowing I can’t necessarily lift as much as the man standing next to me, it can be daunting, and I can only imagine what that must feel like to be working with belt conveyor products on-site every day. I take this into account for every product development project that I work on. The weight of products and ease of maintenance is so important to make conveyor maintenance roles accessible for everyone.
Another aspect of my role that I am passionate about is education. I know it may not be the same for all, but I didn’t grow up being taught by my Dad, Uncles or Grandfathers about how to use tools to complete projects around the house, or fix something simple in my car like a lot of men are taught. When I completed product training at Flexco, it was the first time I had picked up a wrench! Knowing it’s the same for my friends and family and likely a lot of other women, Flexco invests so many resources into providing training for all our customers. It gives people of all backgrounds the knowledge and ability to complete their jobs to the highest possible standard.
You studied your degree in Media. What was your view on the mining industry, and has it changed since you started your role with Flexco?
I had extremely limited exposure to the resources industry before I started my role with Flexco. I wasn’t taught about it at school, and it wasn’t something we discussed around the dinner table. I personally think that is a disservice to our young people. I wish someone had spoken to me about a career in mining and the limitless potential for growth when I was in Year 12.
If mining was mentioned, all I heard was that it’s bad for the environment. However, now I know that is simply not true; mining enables us to live this progressive life. It provides steel for our homes, essential metals for electric vehicles, and aggregate materials for our roads. Without mining, the world as we know it would not exist and I think that is important to understand. I think the most important place to promote change is to start a conversation – I talk to everyone I know about the importance of mining in our world, and I hope I’ve changed a few minds along the way!
You recently became a mother. Can you share how you find the ideal balance between work and home life?
Before May 2022, my career was where I found my main sense of purpose, and then came our son! Learning to juggle two important aspects of my life has definitely been a challenge. However, Flexco has gone above and beyond to help me with the transition to working Mum. I can work flexible hours from home 3 days a week. This means I get to spend time playing with my son throughout the day, and get my work done while he sleeps. Our babies are only truly at home with us for 5 years before they start school and have their own friends, hobbies and interests to pursue. I want to make the most of that time and I’m so extremely appreciative that Flexco has given me the flexibility to do that.
Flexco Australia is an Associate Partner for AusIMM's International Women's Day Event Series. For more inspiring stories like Ellaina's, follow AusIMM on social media and the hashtag #CelebratingWomeninMining or catch up via our latest news!