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Creating unique specialist training and career progression opportunities through international collaboration

During 2018-2019, Darwin-based Alicia Pollock participated in a collaborative programme of tugboat training organised by our Marine Services teams in the UK and Australia, who serve the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy, respectively.

In late 2018, Alicia became one of only a few specialist female tug operators in Australia following a two-week accreditation. Then, in 2019, Alicia spent five weeks training in the UK with our Maritime Services team at Her Majesty's Naval Bases Portsmouth and Devonport, after which she was presented with her training certificate by Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Nick Hine CB.

Since joining Serco in 2010, Alicia has learned how to drive many different boats professionally. “Starting out as a deckhand, I worked my way up to driving. From there I learned how to drive a crane barge, works boat and the conventional tugboat.”

“Alicia did an amazing job,” said Rob Hinton, a Serco Training Master from the UK travelled to Australia to deliver the training. “I was so impressed with her progress from where she started to what she was able to achieve in the final assessment.”

Asked about her experience of being a woman in a role traditionally occupied by men, Alicia said: “I’ve been with Serco since I left school – about nine years. In that time, I’ve worked with all sorts of people. I’ve encountered some with more traditional views of the workplace, but that ‘old school’ management is far less common now. It’s much better today – there are more women in the industry and people are waking up to what we can do. The people I work with today are great – there are no issues whatsoever. I get treated fairly and with respect – same as everyone else. People don’t look at you and make assumptions about your experience and capability just because of your age or gender. I’ve proven myself and I get the opportunities because people can see the potential in me.”

It is the variety of life on the water that Alicia loves about her job. “Every day is different,” she explains. “One day I can be working on a crane barge, then refuelling a Navy ship from a fuel barge, or be working on a tugboat pushing a Navy ship around the harbour.”