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Michelle: A curious and loyal employee who is going the distance

Michelle is standing and holding a plastic bag of mineral sands

Michelle has been an employee of Tronox (and its former corporate guises) for the past 19 years, and in a job that was originally brokered by Forrest Personnel. Nineteen years is an incredibly long time! How many people can say they’ve worked with – or have a continuing association with – an employer for that length of time?

The big questions

We were curious about Michelle, her job and what it entails, and how it has enriched her life for all these years.

Trip to Tronox

We met her in the Tronox lobby in July, and together with her team member Sheryl, we were ushered into her workspace.

Dealing in mineral sands

She has several interrelated roles that work in support of the testing of mineral sands that are shipped in for analysis. Some of the mineral sands arrive in cloth bags. Michelle empties the bags. She then has to inspect the bags to ensure they are in good enough condition for the next round of field collections. The cloth bags are then washed in a machine and dried. Interestingly enough, the bags are not hung, as one would imagine, but meticulously organised in small stacks inside a drying cabinet. Stacks can be thicker or thinner depending on the weather and humidity.

A close up of mineral sands

Mineral sands at Tronox. Photo by Rob Cox, oxy images

What’s striking about this aspect of Michelle’s job is that it requires a certain attention to detail – inspecting bags for rips and tears, and organising them in tidy stacks. What kind of personality would lend itself to this kind of work, we wondered?

A curious nature

Michelle, it turns out, has an insatiable curiosity. When the time was right, and we had asked all our questions, she couldn’t stop asking hers. She was curious about small immediate details and had questions about the wider world as well. Maybe this curious nature, and this desire for more knowledge, is something that helps sustain interest in a job over nearly two decades.

Michelle is standing up and holding onto the handles of a wheelbarrow

Michelle at the wheelbarrow at Tronox. Photo by Rob Cox, oxy images

Being part of the team

We wanted to know how work has impacted Michelle’s life. “I like it all,” she exclaimed. “I like feeling like part of the team” she continued. Michelle also told us that she appreciates the income she earns. It has changed her life by giving her purchasing power and connecting her to the wider community by providing access to social activities.

Part of the team she clearly is – an open, friendly and curious person who supports the company’s analysis of mineral sands, and who is gearing up for a major anniversary on the job.

Coming up in 2021

One thing is for sure: We’ll be angling for an invitation back to Tronox in March 2021 to document Michelle’s twentieth.


Feature photo: Michelle at Tronox holding a plastic bag of mineral sands. Photo by Rob Cox | oxy images

Forrest Personnel is a local, for-purpose, charity. We specialise in supporting people with health conditions, injuries or disabilities to find and keep jobs.

We’re here to help | 1800 224 548