Case studies

Case study

Supporting our people to succeed

Six years ago, Ladell Nakachi kissed his partner and new-born son goodbye and left his home in Cairns, North Queensland, in search of an opportunity.

He got on a plane and flew to the other side of the country, arriving in Perth with a tent to live in, $500 to live off and a determination to make a better life for his family.

“I lived at the Midland Caravan Park with a tent and a blanket – living day by day and sending whatever money I had back to my family in Cairns,” Ladell said.

“My partner played a big role in supporting me. We had a goal to buy a house in Cairns, and I wanted an opportunity to change my career from carpentry to rail infrastructure.”

Two months after moving to Perth, that opportunity came up at Downer.

“I interviewed Ladell when he applied for the job and the minute he walked out the door, I knew we would give him an offer,” Downer’s Western Australia Operations Manager, Glenn Donaldson, said. “His attitude was one of, ‘Give me a crack – you can give me the lowest job in the team, I just want to work my way up. I am loyal and I will put in the effort. I am just looking for a chance’.”

A chance was all Ladell needed. After starting as a Track Worker at Kwinana in Downer’s South West maintenance team, he has worked on various projects in both rail and road construction, across various regions in WA, being promoted to Leading Hand, then Foreman and now Site Supervisor of one of Downer’s largest rail maintenance teams in the country at Rio Tinto’s Tom Price mine in the Pilbara region of WA.

A key pillar of Downer’s talent retention and attraction strategy is to ensure our people are provided rich career development opportunities. Ladell’s journey is an example of this strategy in action.

“Looking back at the stages and projects I have been involved in at Downer, it has all made me the person I am today,” Ladell said.

Downer has supported and invested in Ladell, and been rewarded with an engaged team member who has developed into an effective team leader.

“One of the things that stands out to me is, over the years Ladell has stayed loyal to our team and our business, and the business has stayed loyal to him,” Glenn said. “We have had the opportunity to see a career flourish as a result. It’s a great message that when we do work together – employee and the organisation – some incredible things can happen. Ladell’s attitude towards work has always been a willingness to do whatever is required to help the business. We have tried to make sure we keep Ladell moving forward and developing him and giving him opportunities, which he has taken with both hands.”

Ladell’s inspiring journey hit another milestone in June 2020, when he won the Civil Contractors Federation WA’s Indigenous Trainee of the Year award after completing his Cert III – Rail Infrastructure.

This initiative demonstrates Downer’s contribution to achieve the following Sustainable Development Goal: #8 Decent work and economic growth