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Interview: Shannon Mavin

Churchill:

So Shannon, you have recently achieved a Diploma of Leadership and Management through Recognition of Prior Learning. Is that correct?

Shannon:

That’s correct.

Churchill:

Yeah, wow. That’s a great qualification. Congratulations.

Shannon:

Thank you very much. Yes, I don’t really know what to say about it. I was really excited that your company can help someone such as myself with that.

Churchill:

Okay. Shannon can you start by telling me a bit about your career history, and what brought you to Churchill?

Shannon:

Oh, well, okay. I first started my apprenticeship at [Curragh 00:01:20], I think in 1998. I think that’s the year. Which I was lucky enough… They weren’t putting on too many apprentices back then, or even now, but I was one of the two lucky apprentices to be employed at Curragh. First non-local young fellas to get their apprenticeships.

Churchill:

So Shannon, can you tell me where is Curragh, and what was your apprenticeship in?

Shannon:

Oh okay, Curragh is at Blackwater. That’s 250 ks west of Yeppoon. Yeah, so around about 200 ks west of Rocky.

Churchill:

Oh wow, okay. In the sticks.

Shannon:

Yes. So my apprenticeship was for heavy earth moving equipment or diesel fitting, which really allowed me to do anything with my trade, because with that qualification, it’s probably the best fitting apprenticeship you can do, because you do machining, trouble shooting, hydraulics, pneumatics, electronics. So yeah, it gives you a wider range to… You can apply your trade to different areas.

Shannon:

So I was one of the two non-local lads, because well back in the day, if you weren’t local you didn’t even get a look in, basically. I did extra hours of high school with graphics and stuff like that, knowing I wasn’t going to uni, I was chasing a trade. My father’s a boiler maker. He actually works at Blackwater BMA. But, yeah so got my apprenticeship at Curragh. I was lucky enough to finish my time six months early.

Churchill:

Oh well done.

Shannon:

Thank you very much. So, yeah with more challenges put in front of me, Leonie I was… Because of my dyslexia I would take… If the tradesman said, “Righto we’re taking a final drive apart”, or “We’re taking a transmission out of a dozer”, or “We’re re-doing a cooling system”, I would take the parts manual home and have a look at the pictures and the expanded view. Because reading is quite challenging for me, and it doesn’t really sink in.

Churchill:

Okay, so before you go on with your career story Shannon, that’s really fascinating. Tell me a bit more about what it is like experiencing dyslexia from the inside and when you became aware that was an aspect to your personality?

Shannon:

I’ve known for a long time because, when I went through school I was always classed as dumb. Not so much for the teachers, but the students. One of the worst times was dictation. We had to listen to the teacher and write down the sentence. Because my reading and writing wasn’t very good, I don’t know if you’ve seen or read those Footrot Flats magazines?

Churchill:

Yeah.

Shannon:

Yeah, so that was my writing. So if it didn’t sound like the word, it didn’t really work for me. Yeah, and I still remember that class at dictation and you had to write and be marked, and then you had to pass your work to the next person sitting next to you, so I was always classed as dumb, back in the day when there wasn’t that much support. But nowadays there’s a lot of… There’s Asperges, there’s a lot of good research and really good support networks now. But when I went through, the teachers didn’t ask me questions. I sat at the back. I kept really quiet. Yeah, because of my size, I’m six foot four, and I was about 115 kilos, so I didn’t really get picked on that much, but just with… Yeah kids aren’t really supportive in those situations. I notice that teachers sort of let me… Yeah, they sort of let me do my own thing.

Churchill:

I guess teachers are so busy aren’t they? When you think about it, if they’ve got 25 to 30 kids to look after-

Shannon:

Yeah, I think I had 35 kids in my class.

Churchill:

Yeah, I mean there’s only so much they can do. Then meanwhile kids can be really cruel, can’t they?

Shannon:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Churchill:

Yeah, okay.

Shannon:

They can be. So I did… What was it? I did an extra 120 hours in graphics. That was very challenging. I passed maths because he was my football coach. But I really tried hard in my junior year, year 10, because I said to my mother, “I’m quitting. I’m going to go into the army as an infantryman.” Mom begged and pleaded with me to please not. Go onto year 12. Because, back then, there was no school based traineeships. If you weren’t 18, you could not work. The only way I could see to get out was to go into the military as an infantryman. They said if you do this for so many years, you can do your trade in the army. I said, “Yep, no dramas.”

Shannon:

So I actually got a better mark in my junior than my senior, because how you have the dumb maths, and I failed my maths in year 12, because he wasn’t my football coach. English was-

Churchill:

So why did that make a difference? Was it because you were taught in a different way, or there wasn’t as much insight of… Why did that make a difference? Or you didn’t respect your teacher as much?

Shannon:

No, he just expected… He just taught one way. One of the actual girls, [Toola Swenson 00:08:11], she helped me a lot. She used to sit next to me. But, yeah that wasn’t her job. She actually was a returning student at that time. She’d actually gave it away and come back and tried to get a better mark to go into uni. But yeah, so I really concentrated on graphics, shop A which was woodwork and shop B was metalwork. I was actually talking to my mom recently, and she said Mr Asher from Yeppoon High, he put in a beautiful letter to Curragh, who rang him before my time and they said he did exceptional on my letter.

Shannon:

When I went for my apprenticeship, I got told I was unsuccessful. So I went to TAFE to do more… What was it? Hand tools. So basically that takes out your first year of your apprenticeship. Then I was going to join the military. So I did the military aptitude, physical, actual and everything else. They said, “Righto, we’ll take you as a fitter and armorer, all you’ve got to do is wait six months.” So I thought, “All right, I’ll go to TAFE and get more skills so I’m not just sitting around.” At that time, I was lucky enough to become a TA, which is a trades assistant with REB Engineering, and basically I was digging trenches underneath a wash plant for 12 hours. Basically shin to knee depth of just slurry and coal and they said to me, “Shannon, why are you smiling?” I said, “Mate, I actually got my first pay check. I’m 18 years old. I made $850 a week. That is actually phenomenal money.” They said, “Yeah, but you’re just covered in filth.” I said, “Yeah, but it’s $850 a week.”

Shannon:

Then, what they’d do, I’d have to clean the crib rooms. So I used to knock off half an hour before the lads would go for crib, and you’d clean the crib rooms. Make the pots of hot water, turn on the urns. You’d sweep out the… And I thought this is brilliant, because it’s 50 degrees out in the sun, and I was in the air conned crib room.

Churchill:

What’s the crib room?

Shannon:

I said “How good is this?” Oh, what’s that?

Churchill:

What’s a crib room?

Shannon:

Oh sorry, it’s where you have your lunch.

Churchill:

Okay, so this was in army in Curragh.

Shannon:

Oh no, this is actually a shut down at BMA Blackwater, wash plant.

Churchill:

Oh, okay. So BMA Blackwater is a mining company, is it?

Shannon:

Yes.

Churchill:

Right, okay, got you. All right, so you didn’t ever end up going into army?

Shannon:

No.

Churchill:

Okay, so you-

Shannon:

Yeah, so in that time, they said you’ve got to kick around for six months, I was applying for any job. TAs assistant, laborer, anything I could get my hands on to make money, or just to… Because I actually didn’t go to schoolies week. I was actually working at BMA Blackwater digging out those trenches underneath the wash plant.

Churchill:

Wow, so you’ve always been a hard worker, and a go getter by the sounds of it. Honestly, because a lot of kids that age when they were just finished school, they don’t really know what to do, they go through a period of being pretty useless for a little while. That was probably me for a little while when I first finished school, so kudos to you getting off your butt and getting out there in the world.

Shannon:

Well, thank you. My father said, “You’re either learning or earning boy.” My father was, let’s just say he’s not the most gentlest soul. My mom is, but my father, he’s extremely old school, let’s just say.

Churchill:

Okay.

Shannon:

Yes. So, and I saw dad growing up. He was not home very often. He’d work shut downs, so he wasn’t home very often. He did a lot of hours and he wasn’t home a lot. So, yeah he was a very hard worker, and he did a lot of hard yards. As you probably know, boiler making’s a really hard trade.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Shannon:

So yeah, he did that before he retired, 45 years.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), so what is working shut downs? Is that when mines are closing? Or, what does that mean?

Shannon:

No, so the mine will shut down a section of it to do major repair work.

Churchill:

Right, okay.

Shannon:

Yeah, so if you’re on a shut down crew, you’ll be one of the guns that they call you in, and you’ll say, “You’re basically here for a month. Then we’ve got another shut down at Gordonstone and we’ve got another shut down in another month at BMA, then you’ve got another shut down at Curragh and you’ve got another shut down at Oakey Creek.” So I did that with G&S when I finished my time, but yeah, sorry.

Shannon:

Yeah, so I did my time with Curragh. Because Curragh was such a large mine, I got the opportunity to do drag lines, and also wash plant, or CHPPs, which really did benefit me because… Oh wow, we’re really getting into the history now, okay. So I finished my time. I decided to go into Rockhampton, because I had a beautiful daughter at that time because [inaudible 00:13:48] she was 18 years old. So I tried to make that work. I worked at a couple of companies in Rocky as a diesel fitter on trucks, but because the money was so poor there, basically I took on a lady with a… already she had a child and a mortgage and I said “Oh righto”, and I got a beautiful little baby girl with her. I said “Righto I’ll come into town and make some money.” But when you come into town, you’re on $15, $16, $17 an hour, so you work Monday to Friday. You’ve got an hour for smoko, so I can’t go back, because that was in Rocky and I was living in Yeppoon at the time.

Shannon:

So you’d be there from 7:00. So you’d leave home at 6:00, get there at 7:00, work until 5:00, get home at 6:00. Cass would go to bed… This is my daughter, Cass. She’d go to bed at 6:30, and then you’d work Saturday and half a day Sunday, because it’s double time Sunday, try to get money in the house, and you’re actually seeing her less than working away.

Shannon:

So I rang G&S Engineering. They’re out of Mackay. They’re an engineering firm and they specialize in drag lines and wash plant shut downs and maintenance. I rang them up and I told them my experience with Curragh, and they said, “When can you start?” I said, “When do you want me?” They said, “Tomorrow at Curragh.” I said, “Oh, okay, no worries.” Because my inductions were still valid, because I tried to work in town for six months, but not seeing your family for six months, was not good. So I was lucky enough to score work with G&S. They really did enjoy my work ethic, because some tradesmen don’t like doing work that’s beneath them, let’s say. So, I was a fitter and I had drag line experience and all the rest of it, but I would help clean the crib rooms. I just wasn’t working on the drag lines that the shut downs were on. I was repairing lighting plants for night shift to have a start. I’d be plumbing in portable crib rooms for the septic systems. I’d be doing car parks.

Shannon:

What it is, it’s called mobile. It’s mobbing the shut down. So it’s mob and demob. So basically you’re setting it up for the shut down to begin, and then you’re also cleaning up the rubbish and all the rest of it for demob after it. Not many tradesmen would do that, because it’s beneath them. So I would clean the rubbish bins. I would set up the car parks. I would do anything basically, to get a good name and basically a lot of people tried to sue G&S because they didn’t have any work, where I had, I think for five years, the longest time I had at home off was three days.

Churchill:

Wow!

Shannon:

Yeah, I said to Johno, Johno was the HR manager at G&S and he kept on saying, “Have you got a mobile phone Shannon?” I said, “No John.” Because what they would do is they’d ring you half way home to go to another job. So I wouldn’t give them my mobile phone. I had an answering machine at home in Yeppoon. I said, “Just give me my three days Johno, and I’m right to go.” But, that eventually cost me a relationship because I was doing a lot of hours. But when you’ve got that situation with a contract company, if you say no, you go to the bottom of the list. It’s not like now-

Churchill:

Gee that’s harsh isn’t it?

Shannon:

Yes, it’s not like now that you can pick and choose your companies and everyone’s screaming for tradesmen because they’re not putting on apprentices. Because as I said, when I started my apprenticeship they didn’t put any apprentices on, and now they’re finding a large short fall of tradies, especially with experience. So, basically, they called you and you go. Like one time there, Johno rang me up, he said, “Just pack up”, rang me on a Sunday… Sorry, they rang me on a Saturday. They said, “Can you come out to Curragh for Sunday? We’re doing a drum removal”, which is just a big conveyor drive unit and you’ll be home. I said, “Righto, no dramas.” So I used to get travel, double time and travel home. So that was before the fatigue and all the rest of it. So you could imagine the amount of money that that would mean to me, just for one day call out. I said, “No dramas Johno, I’ll be there.” I think it was nine days later I got home.

Churchill:

Oh wow.

Shannon:

Yeah, because just broke down, and then there was another break down. Can you do this Shannon? So you never say no.

Churchill:

Yeah, right.

Shannon:

Yes. So yeah, I’ve done a lot of hours, let’s just say back to back and all the rest of it, yeah.

Churchill:

Okay, so keep moving me through your career history and what brought you to Churchill.

Shannon:

All right. I was with G&S at the time at Curragh doing fill in relief work at field maintenance on drag lines, and then an opportunity came up as an operator/maintainer down the wash plant at Curragh. I’ve had some… As I said done shut downs on G&S and all the rest of it, so I put my name in the hat and I was lucky enough to become an operator/maintainer for Curragh. So, after that, it’s all been beautiful sailing. I was an operator/maintainer for Curragh for, I think it’s been 12 years.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So what does operator/maintainer mean?

Shannon:

Okay, so with a wash plant, especially large sections of wash plant, you’ve got a paddock which is your raw coal. So you’ll have all the raw coal, so it’s got to be crushed to a certain size, because you’ve got to have optimum coal size to go in the plant. Then we also built a 22 kilometer convey for Curragh north, so that was another section you had to learn. So that was another ROM section. Then you’ve got screening floor, which is into the wash plant now. So you’ve actually got to work on the screens and different sizes and stuff like that and flotation, so that’s your micro size of coal, like your dust and stuff like that. So you’ve even got to try to recover that, and the product stockpile… ah sorry, and control room. So you’ve got to learn how to run the whole thing.

Churchill:

Okay, wow.

Shannon:

Yeah, so it takes a good operator two years to just learn those five skills. So, yeah, I had basically the best job in the Bowen Basin. So every day is different. You’re in a different section. Good bunch of lads. So I really-

Churchill:

Sounds like you really enjoy it.

Shannon:

Oh I really did, but I suppose I do like taking on challenges and challenging myself, but see that was more physical. There was no bookwork. There is bookwork per se but people ask you questions, and then you can relay the questions. So I took on an operator/maintainer and trainer assessor then. Then I did a step up supervisor and I stepped up supervising in the plant for, I think two to three years. Because I wanted to take on that supervisory role. I didn’t get the opportunity to take on that role down the plant, so then another opportunity came up in field maintenance. So as I took on my crew I said to them, well I’m a pretty straight shooter, I said “I do apologize for my skills and knowledge base being poor at the moment. I haven’t touched this stuff in about 13 years, but together we’ll get through it.”

Shannon:

I’ve always wanted to… as soon as I took over a staff role, I did some training with… I can’t remember her name now. Susan Cusack or someone. I can’t remember the name. I can send it in an email. She was an absolute lovely lady. It was to do with new leaders at Curragh. She talked about open mindset. She said, “If you think you’re dumb, you will be dumb for the rest of your life. But, if you take it as a challenge, you can basically take on anything.” Basically I had a closed mindset for a lot of years. As I said, I was there for 12 years before I started to want to see something change. After that bit of training, I wanted to take on something more. What I try to become is MVP, most valuable player.

Churchill:

Yeah, okay, that’s great. Hey, Shannon, what was the training that you did? Did it have a course name, or was it professional development?

Shannon:

It was professional development. There was no certificate or something like that, but yeah this Susan lady, she was absolutely fantastic, and it really felt… It was the first time that I actually told anyone in my professional career that I was dyslexic.

Churchill:

Wow, really! So you had probably always worked really hard and over compensated for that fact. That’s probably what was going on, wasn’t it?

Shannon:

Correct. Yeah, like even now, I’ve got the Mining Act and Regulations at home, and every now and then I read a verse of it, just to try to keep my mind connected with that. But, yeah I probably… Because I was more of a, if you show me once I’ll remember it, but if you just give me a book to read I’ll never get it. Yeah, that’s probably my learning situation. So I would always… And that was another thing with my trade. I came into Curragh after the strike of 29 weeks out at Curragh. So it was quite a challenging that… a lot of people didn’t like the new starters, and I wasn’t a new local lad, so you really had to knuckle down and know your gear.

Churchill:

Yeah. How long did it take you to win them over?

Shannon:

Oh, I’m a pretty happy go lucky lad, and I was basically… I’ll just push them out the road. I said, “No, you’re here forever. I’ve got four years.” Where a lot of people, I see a couple of apprentices now, and they just don’t care. But four years go so fast. It’s ridiculous.

Shannon:

But yes, I was talking to… I was looking at doing courses and they’re saying, oh you got to go to uni for this course and that course, and I was sort of stumped. I didn’t know who to contact. I rang CQU and they’re going, “Oh yeah, yeah, we’d be interested in taking you, but you can’t defer”, if you learn by correspondence that’s not my style. It would be extremely challenging because-

Churchill:

Why were you wanting to study?

Shannon:

I wanted to improve myself.

Churchill:

Okay, yep. You wanted to keep progressing.

Shannon:

Yes, I am going to keep progressing. I’ve got a goal in mind and I was actually talking to a friend of mine, his friend is an SSE. He actually started his time with us at Curragh. He started as a storeman when I started as an operator/maintainer. He is now an SSE in Hunter Valley.

Churchill:

Oh wow. What does SSE stand for?

Shannon:

Oh, site senior executive.

Churchill:

Site senior executive, okay.

Shannon:

Yeah, and I thought, well what’s he got that I haven’t got? He actually took steps every two or three years to go up the ladder, where I didn’t. I stayed as an operator/maintainer.

Churchill:

Okay.

Shannon:

I was actually talking to the storeman at work, and he said, “Yeah, Burkey’s an SSE now.” I said, “Oh my God. How did he do it?” He said, “Well he’s done this course, this course and this course.” He signed up as a… He did leadership and management. I went, “Oh yeah.” He said, “Oh yeah he went to uni”, because he actually was redundant in one of his mines, so he got a pretty good payout, so instead of going out and party, he actually signed up to CQU or James Cook and started signing up for that. I don’t think he finished it, but on your resume it just says I am studying business and leadership, where I said, “Oh I’d love to do that, but”, and then I rang up CQU and they said, “Oh no, it will be this long and that long, and you’ve got to attend so many classes.” I went “Oh, no worries, [crosstalk 00:28:15]”.

Shannon:

I was actually in the training department at Curragh, and this fellow, I think his name is [Keebor 00:28:25], Keebar… Do you actually know him?

Churchill:

Where? Whereabouts?

Shannon:

He’s a trainer assessor of machinery. I’ve got an email at work. He was talking about training courses and all the rest of it. I said, “Oh mate, I’d love to do a diploma in frontline leadership”, and he went “Oh really?” I said, “Yeah, but everyone, they’ve all shut the doors mate. It’s all correspondence.” He said, “No, no, no, I know this company, Churchill Institute.” I think he said Churchill Institute was just waiting to get registered or something. He said, “I’ll get back to you about it.” I went, “Oh no dramas.” I let it go for a little bit, and I sent him a text and I said, “Oh, how did you go with that information?” He said, “Yep, yep, here it is here. I wish you all the best.”

Shannon:

Then I contacted Churchill and talked to this wonderful lady, Amanda-

Churchill:

Yes.

Shannon:

… and the rest is history. She said, because I didn’t save much of the… If I’d probably had better leadership or… Because, Curragh don’t really talk about professional development. They basically put you in a position that you’re very good at, but they don’t really look at progressing you. So, I will be doing that on my own, which is fine. You’re paid to do a job and you do it to the best of your ability, but I won’t be doing this job forever.

Churchill:

Yep, so Shannon, where was Keebor from?

Shannon:

He was a contract or a consultant trainer assessor, because training assessing, when the downturn of a mining company hits, the first area that is basically culled is health and safety and training.

Churchill:

Right, yeah, okay. Oh gosh.

Shannon:

Because they are not integral-

Churchill:

To profit.

Shannon:

Correct. It is a nice to have, and you can say to the mines inspector, “Yes, we are undergoing training and assessing, but at this time”, because when the times are good we’ll have upwards of maybe 10, 15 people in there, but when times are lean, we had one, yeah one superintendent and one trainer assessor. So we can fluctuate. We sometimes go from 1,500 contractors down to 100. So, that’s putting a lot of lives and families and stuff like that. So yeah, when the times are good, yes everyone’s got a job, but when times are tough, you keep your core business going.

Churchill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay. So when he mentioned Churchill Education to you, did you know it was Recognition of Prior Learning, or did you think it was somewhere where you could do a leadership and management course?

Shannon:

No, he said it was Recognized Prior Learning.

Churchill:

Okay.

Shannon:

And that tweaked me to the nth degree. I said, “You’re talking about RPL’ing a Diploma?” He said, “Yeah. I said, “Are you joking?” He said, “No, mate. If you’ve got the runs on the board, and you can show it, they can do the mapping for you.” I said, “They can do the mapping for”… because I didn’t know what mapping was. You know, I’m a fitter. I hit stuff with hammers.

Churchill:

Yep, well I think a lot of people don’t understand what Recognition of Prior Learning is, actually from all fields.

Shannon:

Well see, being a trainer assessor, as soon as he said that, I just snapped straight up. I went, “Are you serious?” Because that is fantastic, because if you’ve had a bobcat skill or a forklift skill, and you’ve got an Australian ticket, you can RPL it. But as soon as he said you can RPL a Diploma, I went, “So I don’t have to go to uni or”, he said, “No mate. No.” I went, “Oh my God”, and I think that day I rang Amanda. Yeah it was fantastic.

Churchill:

Awesome. So tell me about the process from there, Shannon. How did it roll, and what did you have to provide?

Shannon:

It was so fantastic. This lovely lady rings me up and goes, “Hi, I’m Amanda and this is what we’ve got to do, and I’ll send you an email. Can you send me what you’ve got?” And all the rest of it. Sunshine also sent me an email. So, I kept on sending stuff, and making sure everything was right, what she wanted to do and all the rest of it. But, it was seamless. It was painless.

Shannon:

I don’t know how long I did it for, but everything I did, I just put in a folder, and I actually got some of the old mud maps that I used to make up and stuff like that from the plant, because I still know the lads down there. Because, I can’t get access to it, because basically if you get everyone’s email, you’d be the same, you’d have to go through 3,000 emails just to get down to the seven that you need. Because, I was getting rail schedules. I was getting plant updates. I was getting stock pile reports. I was getting flow chart indicators. I was getting mining reports, and I didn’t need that in field maintenance, so I basically said, “Oh no, just take me off all your emailing lists. I don’t need that any more.”

Shannon:

When Amanda said, “Oh you need these reports”, and I went, “Copy that, I should have saved some.” Every time I sent that, and when she rang me and she said, “Oh I’d really like to just take time Shannon.” I went “Oh, yeah righto Amanda.” I thought, oh yeah I didn’t succeed. I didn’t… because she rang me up and said, “Oh I just need a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more.” I’m going, “Oh yeah, yep, yep.” Then the day she said, “I really want you to take a moment and just appreciate what you’ve gone through to achieve this. You’ve done really well, because it’s a hard Diploma to get.” I’m getting a bit emotional now. When you’re told or shown that you’re dumb, and uni’s not for you, and that fantastic Churchill company really helped me out, and hopefully set my family up, that’s the goal, really struck a chord with me.

Shannon:

I think Randall also sent me an email recently about this file saying, “Nothing is permanent.”

Churchill:

Yeah, nothing is forever.

Shannon:

That’s exactly right and I always thought I’d be an operator/maintainer forever. Because, it was a good job. Good job, good roster, good holidays. If you’re not there, if you have a sickie, the world doesn’t end. In my current role, if I have a sickie, especially on a maintenance day and stuff like that, it really hits the fan, and the superintendent has to… So it was a big call to take on a supervisory role, but for myself, I do like a challenge, and as I said, I’ve gone right out on a limb, because I haven’t touched this bit of gear in say over a decade and a half. So, it is a big call for me and my family, because now I can get retrenched or sacked basically, where when I was an operator/maintainer you’ve got the backing of the Union and stuff like that. Basically you’re locked in forever. So it was a big call, because I’ve got a beautiful young family and stuff like that.

Shannon:

But, yeah when that lovely lady rang me up and said, “Congratulations”-

Churchill:

Yeah I bet that felt so good.

Shannon:

Oh it did mate. It was pouring down with rain and all. I still remember this day. It was pouring down with rain and I had to step away from another lad, and I said, “You’re joking.” She said, “No.” Oh mate, and after that I was… What did we had? We had a death at work, so that was pretty full on. Then, because I didn’t come back-

Churchill:

You had a what at work, sorry?

Shannon:

A fatality.

Churchill:

Oh gosh, okay.

Shannon:

Yes, so after that I didn’t contact Amanda for the certificate for a while, because we had a lot going on at work. So we had a fatality, and then we had the Covid-19 and you had to do a safety reset. After that fatality you had to do a safety reset, and the Covid-19 you had to do a safety reset. I had a beautiful baby girl. Yeah, so I sort of lost track of Amanda for a little bit and she sent me an email touching base. Because, she said, “Would you be interested in doing another Diploma?” I am, I’m really pumped when I go back to work to do that Diploma of Occ Health and Safety.

Churchill:

Awesome, that’s a great one. Another great one.

Shannon:

Yeah, well hopefully, I can have a crack at that, with my experience and we’ll see how we go. Yeah, because-

Churchill:

Shannon, what an awesome story, because the reality is, and this is something that we talk a lot about within Churchill, there are many different forms of education and learning. The classroom is only one of them, or going to uni, or whatever it might be. Then we also have people who have done it both ways. They have achieved qualifications through Recognition of Prior Learning based on the work that they’ve done, and they’ve been to uni and done a course. Most of them will say that they value the qualifications that they’ve received through Recognition of Prior Learning far more than the ones that they’ve studied in a classroom to achieve, because it’s knowledge that has come from life, and has come from being on the ground, that has come from being part of a team with people relying on you, and so it’s really testament to your ability and your capability when you receive qualifications through Recognition of Prior Learning, in my opinion.

Churchill:

So, isn’t it interesting that dyslexia in the school room is considered a negative, however in your case it’s made you extremely diligent and extremely dependable, and extremely driven. Those things that not everybody develops.

Shannon:

Yeah, all right. I didn’t know that. I thought everyone was driven.

Churchill:

No. So, are you able to see dyslexia as a positive these days?

Shannon:

Probably not, no. Because everyone says, even when you do paperwork, they said, “Do you have a disability?” And that puts a mark on it, do you know what I mean? If you say you’ve got a disability, I think… Well how I was raised, if you’ve got a disability, you’ve got something wrong with you. Even though my disability is a learning one, it’s not physical, it’s not emotional and stuff like that, I just don’t learn like everyone else, it’s still… I don’t know, I suppose being my generation starting to get a bit of age on me, I probably still see that as a negative.

Churchill:

Right. So when you have to fill in forms like that, do you put dyslexia down as a disability?

Shannon:

I do. Now I do. I never used to.

Churchill:

Okay, well it’s just interesting isn’t it? Because in your case it doesn’t really sound like it has been a disability at all. You’ve just gone through a different way of learning things and become really, really good at your job, and have a think about it. If someone has anger issues, they don’t put down anger issues as a disability, or lack of self-esteem as a disability, or all those other things that theoretically can stand in your way of full achievement at the same time. They’re just things that have to be worked around, aren’t they?

Shannon:

Yes, well they never used to have that on the forms. Going through they never used to say anything like that, but now they are.

Churchill:

Right. I suppose maybe it is a work health and safety insurance kind of a thing, because I think the worlds gotten tighter in that respect, hasn’t it?

Shannon:

Yes.

Churchill:

Maybe it’s more just-

Shannon:

And there’s no bullying and stuff like that, but yes, doing a… Well what was I doing? I did a Cert III in Training Assessing, but I was the last one to leave the class, because you’ve got to read it and you’ve got to present it and all the rest of it. Same as my supervisory skill. You’ve still got to read it, and you’ve got to know the Act and the Regs and stuff like that, because you’ve got to read it and you’ve got to present it. I was always the last. So that always plays on my mind.

Churchill:

Right. Well I mean, your journey will be your journey, but my personal opinion is that you can probably let all that go, because sounds like you’re doing pretty darn well in life and you know what, I also am a slow reader, and I’m a writer. People pay me to write stuff for them.

Shannon:

True?

Churchill:

Yeah, so we just all have different ways of learning and coming at life. So, Shannon, so you’ve just received your Diploma of Leadership and Management.

Shannon:

Yes.

Churchill:

You’ve just had your third daughter. Three girls?

Shannon:

No, I’ve got two girls and a boy.

Churchill:

Okay, so the middle one’s a boy.

Shannon:

Yes.

Churchill:

Okay, so you’ve got three kids, a new little baby daughter. Heading back to work soon, and you’ve got your sights set on site senior executive. Is that right?

Shannon:

I do, yes.

Churchill:

Yeah, great, and possibly coming back at another point to qualify for a Diploma of Work Health and Safety.

Shannon:

Oh, I will be there now, yes.

Churchill:

Yeah, awesome.

Shannon:

Yes, I will be in contact as soon as I get back into work. I’ll guarantee you that.

Churchill:

Yeah, well, I mean that’s another awesome qualification, so that would be another feather in your cap for sure Shannon.

Shannon:

Yeah, well because I was talking to that storeman, I’ve got a couple of courses in mind with… It’s called a G3, G7 and a G9. So, yeah I’ve got to look into that, but the Covid has sort of hampered that.

Churchill:

Yes, okay, it’s a bit of a different world at the moment isn’t it?

Shannon:

Absolutely.

Churchill:

Yeah.

Shannon:

But yeah I’ll be taking holidays to do that, outside of work hours.

Churchill:

Yeah, okay. So Shannon, to finish up, based on your life and your career, and what you’ve learned, what advice do you have for others who might be living with dyslexia and also, what would you say about Recognition of Prior Learning?

Shannon:

What would I say about Recognition of Prior Learning? I think it’s a fantastic thing. Absolutely highly recommend it. Your team is fantastic, especially Amanda. She’s extremely approachable. You can understand… I don’t know. I’ve never met the lady, but she seems kind hearted, genuine.

Churchill:

She really is, yeah.

Shannon:

She’s a dead set genuine lady. I’ve never met her, it’s only phone calls and stuff like that, but she just seems like she’s a genuine person and she just wants the best for that person. She will do what she can to help. Like, when she rang me, she said about you might get in contact with me, and Sunshine, can you get in contact with me to do my LinkedIn profile probably better than I could, and stuff like that. I will address that when time comes. But yeah Recognized Prior Learning, it was like a God send. It was fantastic. Because, I’ve been in the mining industry 20 years and you really can’t… Well what mines do, they put you in a box, and they give you the skills to work in that box.

Churchill:

Okay, right.

Shannon:

Right? So they don’t want you to do Cert IV in training because that’s a ticket that you could take to another mine.

Churchill:

Okay, right.

Shannon:

Okay, so you can’t really say “I’ve been working at Curragh for 20 years and I’ve done this, this, this, this, this”, and then the new employer goes, “Yeah, but where’s the paper”-

Churchill:

Merge my recorder in again.

Shannon:

Yeah, what happened?

Churchill:

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know if it was me booting you off, or you booting me off. One of those-

Shannon:

I was mid rant then. I was mid rant.

Churchill:

Okay, get going. Get back on your soap box Shannon.

Shannon:

Yeah, so RPL’ing, as I said with training assessing, that was just an absolute God send. Really approachable people. Down to Earth. They just want what’s best for the client, and that was the last question. What was the first one?

Churchill:

The first question was, what advice do you have for others living with dyslexia when it comes to career?

Shannon:

My advice would be, anything you do at work, put it on a USB stick, or a hard drive, and capture it.

Churchill:

Yeah, okay.

Shannon:

Because, that is the history of your work. At work we’ve redone the training and assessing… We’ve actually done a compliance check of training and assessing. I sat down with an electrician and basically we are way behind, but I’m going to put that aside, because we’ve put a lot of hours into that, but if you do not save your work, you’ve got nothing to show for 20 years. And, don’t be shy. Don’t be backward in coming forward. Yeah, just relish the challenge, and there’s support out there.

Churchill:

So, basically get recognition from the classroom of life, rather than the classroom of school books.

Shannon:

Yes, absolutely. I didn’t think it was possible, but there you go. I’ve got it. I’ve got it framed, or I haven’t got it framed, I’ve got to get it, but yeah. I’ve got to take a photo to send that Susan lady to… Yeah.

Churchill:

Yes, that would be a great story for her. I’m sure she’d love to know how inspirational she was for you.

Shannon:

Yes, absolutely, yes.

Churchill:

Awesome. Well, Shannon thank you so much for your time. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you.

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