Employee Stories

Our history is rich with stories of innovation, resilience, and excellence. But the most important part of our story is our people.

Jessica Arnold 

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Jessica Arnold, Area Business Manager based in our AusPac region, joined us in 2016 as an Operations graduate. Since then, she has worked in many roles around the country, gaining valuable experience and skills in different teams.  

Jessica loves her morning routine, consisting of coffee and the gym. “I typically do conventional weightlifting, however lately I’m attempting to include three runs per week in my training. The running is tough, and I am often turning up to work bright red and dishevelled. If anyone has tips or running advice, I will happily take them!”  

Jessica says she loves working at Orica because of the freedom and ongoing opportunities to make meaningful changes and improve our business. She also enjoys the continuous development and learning that comes with working in different business units and facing new challenges.   

As a graduate in Mackay, Queensland, Jessica learned about Orica’s field operations, including operating a mobile manufacturing unit and conducting support shotfirer duties. Moving to Kurri Kurri, NSW, in her second year with Orica, she worked on projects in emulsion manufacturing plants with the projects and engineering team, focusing on productivity, safety and cost reduction.

After completing the program, Jessica became an Account Coordinator in Goldfields, Kalgoorlie, which expanded her knowledge to the commercial side of the business. This role ultimately led to a Territory Manager position, where she was responsible for the safe and efficient delivery of our products and services. She says this role taught her a lot about creating strong customer relationships, contract management and managing complex and diverse teams.  

Away from work, she also has a passion for hiking and the outdoors.

“Fortunately, my job has taken me on adventures across Australia, which started my interest in hiking – the simplicity of exploring anywhere with just a camelback and my trusty Asics.” “I've stumbled upon some extraordinary, peculiar, and even hair-raising locations. One memorable experience involved squeezing through a 1.3-metre diameter tunnel while hiking to the Koolanooka mine in Western Australia, where I unexpectedly encountered a swarm of bats.” 

 

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Jessica moved from Western Australia, to look after the South Australian and Northern Territory Regions, where she oversaw the sales and operations of a larger territory and manage a larger team. She says this role challenged her to develop her leadership and strategic thinking skills. She also had to deal with more complex and competitive market conditions.  

In her current role as an Area Business Manager, Jessica leads a team of Territory Managers and directly supports functions to service 14 sites in the Queensland Coal region. She says this role rewarding as she works with some of our largest and most strategic customers and gets to influence the direction and performance of our business.  

“Now that I am in the Area Business Manager role, all of my experience so far, gives me great understanding of what my team is dealing with day to day and how I can make their lives easier.”  

Throughout her time at Orica, Jessica has witnessed many changes in diversity, safety, and culture. She was the only female at site when she started as an operations graduate in 2016. She says when she rejoined the same team in 2023, she saw more female representation, more ownership for safety, and more pride for Orica.  

Jessica is excited about Orica’s future and admires the trust and empowerment of Orica’s culture. She says, we are trusted by our leaders and have the freedom to do our jobs to the full potential.

“Orica has provided me a safe and open environment, where I can speak up, challenge the norm, and find that next amazing opportunity.” 

 

Theresa Sonneveld

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Commencing over three decades ago as an MMU (mobile manufacturing unit) operator in Kalgoorlie to her current role as a senior manager, Theresa Sonneveld has had an impressive and successful career with Orica.

When she joined the business in 1992 Theresa had no mining experience and was not licenced to drive a heavy vehicle, however her manager took a chance on her, and she was trained and licensed, becoming the first female MMU operator in Western Australia - and one of the few women in the industry at the time.

Theresa loved the role, finding it both rewarding and challenging.

“I still have fond memories of being an MMU operator and being given that opportunity. I met some fantastic people, worked with some amazing teams and I really loved the diversity of the role. Kalgoorlie was a hub and spoke site which gave me the opportunity to travel around the Goldfields region, working at different sites and working remotely across much of WA (Western Australia) and throughout Queensland."

 

Theresa worked hard and learned the ropes of the industry, gaining valuable experience and leadership skills and in 1999, she was promoted to plant supervisor in Tasmania, where she had relocated. She went on to work across various locations throughout Australia, in different market segments and roles, such as Underground Contracts Manager, Operations Superintendent, Field Operations Manager and Operations Support Manager. In her current role, Theresa is responsible for ensuring compliance and governance across the Australia Pacific Mining Services operations. She oversees the risk management, auditing, operational assurance, and operating discipline for the region.

Theresa attributes her successful career to the opportunities for growth and development that Orica offers, as well as ongoing support and guidance from her leaders. She is passionate about enhancing and improving operational practices and excellence across the business and strives to deliver a positive customer and employee experience. She says: "I have had multiple promotions and multiple roles across Australia and had the opportunity to continue to grow and develop. Working for some great and supportive leaders, has been key to me wanting to continue to work at Orica and has helped develop my passion to enhance and improve operational practices / excellence across the business." 

Theresa is proud of her achievements and grateful for her experiences at Orica. She said that she had learned a lot from her colleagues and customers and had grown both personally and professionally. Theresa believes that Orica's longevity as a business has many elements, explaining "It’s the people, our values, the culture and diversity, and the vision of always looking for ways to improve what we do, and how we do it, to deliver the best outcome." 

Proud to be part of Orica's team, Theresa hopes to continue making a difference in the company and the industry, “I have worked on so many memorable projects at Orica, it is hard to pick just one. I have learned so much from my leaders, colleagues, and customers, they have been amazing mentors and friends. I have grown so much as a person and as a professional, I cannot thank Orica enough for giving me these opportunities."

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The Richey Family

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For four generations, the Richey family have been involved with Orica working as powdermen on blasting crews for the mines with Orica (Atlas) products. Nick Richey, the latest family member to join Orica, has built a successful career, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great grandfather. 

Nick’s career at Orica began in 2012 as an engineering intern at Gold Hill's MMU refurbishment facility. Over the years, he has held various positions within the company, including Shot Service Technician, Account Lead, Site Supervisor, Technical Services Engineer, and Territory Manager. In his current role as Territory Manager, Nick is responsible for commercial and operations management for the Kentucky and Tennessee area.

Nick was inspired to join Orica by the stable career path the company had provided for his family. He grew up watching his father go to work for Orica every day and saw how the company provided for their family.

“My great grandfather and grandfather both worked in Kentucky underground mines on blasting crews using Atlas Powder Products. I grew up watching my dad (Jody) go to work for Orica every day, the company had given a safe and constant environment that was appealing to me and my own career path.” 

Determined to establish his own identity at Orica, he wanted to earn his way through the ranks using his own skillsets and earn the same rapport with his coworkers as his father had. “During my first internship in Gold Hill, I had gone so far as to not tell anyone that my dad also worked for Orica. Once I took over as the site manager for Nashville, I think that is the point where I felt as though I had made my name. People started to acknowledge me because of the success of my team and how unique of an operation we had built.” 

Nick's relationship with his family members who worked at the company has remained strong. He and his father established early on that they would never let their work life affect their relationship outside of the company. They can "leave it at the door" and enjoy activities together, such as fishing or golfing.

Nick said, “the teams that have been built in Orica with safety mindsets and the adaptability to creatively change to new market conditions is what allows us to be an industry leader and will carry us through generations to come.” 
Nick’s father, Jody Richey is a Senior Account Manager based in Nashville, TN, whose journey with Orica started in 1986 at a mix plant for West KY Explosives, a subsidiary of Atlas Powder Co, where he manufactured bulk and packaged explosive products. 

Jody says safety, strong customer relationships, and staying ahead in technology are the reasons why he has remained with Orica so long, our commitment to product supply reliability and innovative solutions resonate deeply with him. Jody believes that Orica's longevity is a result of our focus on safety, stability, opportunities for growth.

Jody’s favourite thing about Orica is that it is family focused.

“Watching my son and colleagues grow in the industry is my favourite part. I was a third generation in the blasting field and now my son is a 4th generation and running the KY and TN area. I enjoy helping them learn and develop”

 

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