Ashley Stephensen worked as a lab technician for more than a decade in the mining industry before securing a laboratory analyst position with INPEX in July 2021 as part of the Solid Pathways Program.
Ashley is born and bred in Darwin and his family are Woolwonga people from the Frances Creek area near Pine Creek.
He started his career as a laboratory technician when he turned 25 and secured a traineeship with the Northern Territory Government, before completing a Diploma in Laboratory Technology.
After establishing a good grounding for his career in the mining industry, he decided he wanted to try something new in the energy industry, which he saw as a sustainable career move.
“I was working as a lab technician in mining for the past 10 years and I have enjoyed the change with working for INPEX as I don’t have to travel for work and can come home to my family every night,” he says.
Ashley at first found it difficult to transition from mining to the energy industry.
“I had applied for jobs, but not got to the interview stage because I didn’t have any experience in the energy industry,” he says. “I think that is why this program is good for our mob to get in, because most of us won’t have experience in the gas industry.
“The program is good because for someone like me, an Aboriginal person, trying to get into the industry, it can be hard to get a foot in the door – you might have the actual job title experience, but not the industry experience.”
Seeing the familiar faces on site of people he grew up with in Darwin and the short drive home are
some of the positives for working at INPEX as a local employee.
“It is good because I see people on site I recognise from around town, so there is familiarity in that sense,” Ashley says.
“When I left school, and started my career, it was a bit of a culture shock because there were not many of us mob around compared to when I was in school, so it is good to have that familiarity around.
“Normally, if you wanted a job like this you had to be in Queensland or Western Australia.
“It is also so close to town, so you don’t have to fly in and fly out – I prefer to just drive home.”