Robbie your career has spanned more than three decades. Any special highlights?
Like a lot of kids, I left school at an early age, without any qualifications. Back then I wanted to be a forklift driver or a mobile plant operator of some sort but I didn’t know how to go about it. I was lucky because my uncle was a supervisor in the biggest cold storage facility in the Southern Hemisphere. He invited me along to meet the boss and see if I liked it. I came out of that freezer twelve-and- a-half years later, as a highly experienced operator with team leader, supervisory and management experience!
Warehousing, distribution and logistics is a fast-paced industry and you learn to become a very goodoperator very quickly. While I was there I did mainly high reach forklift operations. There’s a huge demand for high reach drivers, the pay isn’t bad for starting out, and the experience I gained was the perfect stepping stone to my eight years in Western Australia working in the mining/construction industry. I did FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) work for Chevron, with a 26 days on, 9 days off roster on Barrow Island, one of the biggest LNG (liquefied natural gas) plants of its kind in the world.
I was operating some of the biggest machines in the world on Barrow. My first job there was as a dump truck driver. I’m just under six ft. tall and I was only half the height of the tyre of my dump truck! I also operated front end loaders, diggers, excavators, bulldozers, forklifts up to 16 tonnes, telehandlers and container reach-stackers. There’s some awesome money to be made over there and they look after you well, but last year when my contract finished I decided it was time to come home.
How did you end up tutoring at Aspire2 Trades?
Earlier in my career I spent two years as a corrections officer. That had a big impact on me and is part of the reason why I’ve become a tutor – I want to help people make a difference in their lives. I’ve amassed a lot of knowledge and expertise throughout my career, operating machinery, teaching, supervising and managing people. For me, it’s time to give back.
What do you teach your students?
I specialise in machinery operation as well as forklifts. Learning how to operate forklifts – in terms of knowing about the safety triangle, safety aspects of machines, the mechanics of motorization and the principles of hydraulics – builds a solid foundation to operating some of the biggest machines in the world. Whether you’re driving a dozer, forklift, digger, loader or crane, the principles are the same.
I teach my students more than just the industry requirements. I teach them how to problem solve, plan, organise, project manage and innovate. There are skills and tricks that you need out there in the workplace, and I’m here to pass those on. I’m big on golden rules! If you stick to the golden rules you’ll be fine. If you don’t, things can turn to custard very quickly.
What’s your advice to anyone considering doing this course?
This course can open up so many opportunities. You might start on forklifts but you could end up
operating a crane, a dump truck, or a digger – basically some of the biggest machines in the world. You
could work in any country on any project on the planet, and make some awesome money. Learn how to
drive a forklift and the world is your oyster.