Anthony Augustin has worked with mining services giant Macmahon Holdings since he was an apprentice – and couldn’t have been happier with his career.
Starting as a 15-year-old heavy duty diesel mechanic in 1991, Anthony Augustin has risen up the ranks and is now inventory controller in the Perth workshop.
Macmahon is an Apprenticeship Support Australia client and this year hired its 500th apprentice through the free service.
Augustin’s 27-year career has taken him around the country and offshore, opening his life to experiences he never dreamed he was up for until he took the leap to work in Asia.
Once his four-year apprenticeship was complete, at 19 he headed off to the Argyle diamond mine, where the work was tough – he was on a six-week-on, one-week-off roster and there were limited communications in those days. But it had many advantages.
“It was great. It allowed me to put a lot of cash away and I was able to buy my house when I was 20. I had enough for a good deposit and was able to buy furniture,” he recalls.
“The Argyle site was very remote so we had to do everything ourselves onsite. It was a great place to learn. There wasn’t a large crew and a lot of time you were working by yourself. You had to read the service manuals and work out how you were going to diagnose faults and keep machines.
“You couldn’t hop on line and there were no mobile phones. In the wet season, they would send a lot of people home and only run a day crew and a couple of people on nights. You just had to read the manual as there was nobody to ask.
“As a 19-year-old, it was a really good learning curve and forced you to stand up and forge a presence there.”
Upwards and onwards
By his late 20s, Augustin was overseeing 15 tradies as the components supervisor. It was something he didn’t expect to achieve by that age, though he’d always had the aspiration to lead a team.
He did some short trips to Indonesia to tend to equipment on the company’s project near Banda Aceh in Indonesia, where the 2004 Tsunami disaster struck.
“Before I did my first trip to Indonesia, I never thought I’d be a traveller. I didn’t even have a passport. Mates had gone backpacking but I was not interested,” he says.
“The first trip was very scary but I was lucky I took three people with me. I was there a week and was a bit of a prude and snobby about how other people lived, but then figured if I didn’t immerse myself in this, it was going to be a long three months.
“Then I started to get amongst it and thoroughly enjoyed it and never looked back. I discovered food, culture and amazing people.
“It opened my eyes up to the world and made me realise we are only a small part and you should experience as much as you can.”
In 2014, he moved to Malaysia to take over as maintenance manager in Asia for three years before returning to Perth last year due to the downturn
He hopes to return to Asia one day soon: “It was a very good experience and great lifestyle. I’m a loyal person and very thankful for what Macmahon has given me, so I’ve never had a reason to change jobs.
“I’ve travelled all around the north west of WA, did field service in QLD and around Hunter Valley in NSW, then also Indonesia and Malaysia where I’ve got to see a lot of things and do a lot of things.”
Strong career path
Apprenticeship Support Australia Mentor Support Officer Paul Gannon, who runs the mentoring program for ASA with Macmahon apprentices, says when he talks to the apprentices he highlights that they are at the beginning of a company’s succession plan.
“When I did an apprenticeship many years ago, you were expected to say for the bulk of your life. Now it’s about being the first step of a career path,” he says
Macmahon training coordinator Claudia Carsten-Stronach agrees and says the company has a rigorous recruitment process to ensure the best candidates.
She says it’s driven by Plant and Maintenance Services General Manager Mark Hatfield, who started his career as an apprentice and rose up the ranks by taking opportunities to further his career.
►Apprenticeship Support Australia has signed up more than 250,000 apprentices and trainees in 20 years to more than 94,000 employers. Find out more about its free services here.