Jannifer (Jan) Steele is a Contractor Compliance Supervisor with Ventia

Listening to Ventia Supervisor Jannifer (Jan) Steer talk with such enthusiasm and joy about her career would bring a smile to anyone's face. 

"I love my job, I love the people and the contractors I work with, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction," she says. 

As a Contractor Compliance Supervisor with Ventia's Telecommunications Essential Services business, Jan ensures that contractors are abiding by the strict compliance requirements to perform their work. A job she does exceptionally well having continued to improve compliance statistics year after year.

Her role might include liaising with helicopter companies and crews on commercial and operational compliance one day through to risk management and safety assurance the next. 

Jannifer's amazing career

It's her cumulative career experience across mining, aviation and a range of other industries that has allowed Jan to bring such knowledge to her role. 

And what a career it has been. From mining, to offshore oil and gas, helicopter tours through to telecommunications, it's been an amazing journey. So, varied has her career been, Jan finds it very hard to provide a succinct version of it.

"It's too long to go through, there have been so many different industries and jobs," she said. 

During her working life, Jan has, amongst many other things. 

  • Controlled and managed fixed wing and helicopters to oil and gas field production facilities (FPF) and rigs in the Timor Sea
  • Organised and managed cyclone evacuations from rigs and FPF's to the West Australian coast
  • Provided 24-hour on-call services for urgent medivac flights
  • Managed the response time for a "ditch" site of a helicopter in water and safe retrieval of passengers. 
  • Co-ordinated freight runs, charters and emergency flights from Alice Springs in the Northern Territory
  • Flew up and down the east coast to market a SAAB friction tester for airport runways
  • Marketed helicopter winery tours to local and international Travel companies.

"There's been so many highlights and so many great memories" she said.

Jannifer (Jan) Steele is a Contractor Compliance Supervisor with Ventia's Telecommunications Essential Services business. A highlight of her careers has been flying, working with Stillwell Aviation.

One of Jan's earliest jobs was working in the mining industry, an industry she spent a lot of time in and still has a great affinity for.

"Working in mining has been a passion of mine, I did that for many years, in gold mines, silver mines and an antimony mine (an element used mainly in fire retardants, pottery and batteries) - we were one of only a few places in the world that mined antimony," she said.

'I worked with a lot of great people and I also enjoyed the pressure that came with the job, I worked both above ground and underground as well as working fly-in and fly-out.

"The camaraderie you build with the guys is great."

A main feature of Jan's career has been flying, which started when her ex-husband obtained his commercial helicopter license, leading to Jan securing a position with Stillwell Aviation where she worked for two Australian business giants in Sir Peter Abels and Kerry Packer (who had his own Learjet VH-CPH).

"I worked on the charter co-ordination of Learjets and the management of the FBO (Fixed Base Operation), looking after the Learjets when they came in, both for servicing and maintenance" she said. 

"We had some terrific clients and worked with a lot of well-known people."

Her time with Stillwell also included travelling up and down the east coast of Australia to market a five-wheeled SAAB 'friction tester' vehicle to airports for use on their runways (so aircraft would not slide off the runways in icy or wet weather). From there her knowledge of aircraft and operations took her right across Australia working for some of Australia's leading companies. 

One of her favourite memories from this time was doing a Helicopter Safety course with Esso/Exxon in Malaysia, with people from right across the world. 

"It was an eye opener and it was hard but at the same time it was wonderful" she said.   

The work also provided some great family memories including helicopter trips from Tasmania all the way to Darwin.   

"We had some fantastic trips including stopping in the middle of Lake Eyre and fishing in Arnhem Land," she said. 

Her passion for flying and memories of those trips has also been passed on to her son who joined the NAVY some years ago as a Seahawk "Birdie" (engineer). He has since left the NAVY and has continued for many years focusing on the management and business aspects of aviation.

Working in male-dominated industries

Jan has always worked in male dominated industries where she has met many wonderful "rough diamonds" along the way. Leading up to International Women's Day she reflected on how great it has been to see more women enter these fields over the years.

"I'm so happy to see so many clever and intelligent women getting opportunities. I'm always there for the women," she said.

She is also able to recall and reflect on a time when these opportunities didn't exist at all. 

"I once worked with a female pilot who applied for a position to fly Learjets. She was overlooked so she actually took the company through a court process and won the right to fly. I was so rapt about that!" she said. 

"All the things I wanted to do when I was young, I couldn't do, so it's great to see these opportunities that are available now. 

She says there is still some work to do though.

"We still need to work on the pay structures," she said. 

Whilst she may be entitled to think about putting her feet up after such a long and interesting career Jan isn't even thinking about it.

"I enjoy it too much," she said.

"I told Vinko (Kovacevic - GM Essential Services) that I want to work until I'm 80!"