Renewable energy

In Profile: Asset Integrity Specialist Chris Ross

A career built on opportunities
“It’s been a pretty good adventure so far,” said Chris Ross of his time at CS Energy.

Chris Ross headshot body copy

“If you could put ‘opportunity’ as one big career highlight, there’s been a lot of that.

“There has been no shortage of challenges or learnings, and there’s many more to come - so I just keep rolling with it and take the opportunities as they come.”

Biloela born-and-bred, Chris started at CS Energy in 2007 as a 16-year-old apprentice fitter and turner at Callide Power Station.

“I was a fitter and turner apprentice until I was around 20, rotating through the whole plant, and got signed off as a tradesman,” Chris said.

“I left the Power Station and went to Brisbane for a few years, but came back each year to do an outage as a contractor. I’d do overhauls in the shut down season, and play rugby league in the football season in Brisbane,” he said.

“Then I went over to England, working and living over there - but I always managed to come back and do a shut down here to supplement more travel.”

Returning from England in 2014, Chris continued to work as a contractor before joining the power station permanently as a maintenance fitter in in 2016 and then in various roles including overhaul QI’s, step-up supervisor, overhaul coordinator, and as a member of the Emergency
Response Team. Following a secondment as a mechanical tech officer in 2019, Chris started studying mechanical engineering – and then a new opportunity arose.

Success in succession planning
“There was a job to work with asset integrity specialist Bob Hazard, to learn from him and the requirements of the asset integrity role before his planned retirement,” Chris said.

Chris Ross on site body

“Bob worked in the Asset Engineering team for many years and had a lot of knowledge and experience to share, with roughly 40 years of experience in the electricity generation industry. CS Energy didn’t want to lose all the knowledge he had, so in 2021 I relocated to be Brisbane-based to work with Bob and I travelled between the sites.”

Chris had a two-year handover period with Bob before stepping into the Asset Integrity Specialist role himself in 2023, after Bob retired.

“Two years is an unusually long handover period with any company; there are many times when people get into a position or get handed something and there’s no grace period or handover, and there are so many niches to a position or project that you only learn by doing.

“The role looks after all the pressure equipment and welding compliance across the three sites Callide B and C, and Kogan Creek. It primarily involves inspections and scope, repairs of pressure equipment and welding, and making sure they’re getting done to the correct standards,” Chris said.

“There’s also a whole lot of compliance requirements that we need to make sure we’re adhering to, and lot of work to do with quality assurance and quality control, etc.

“Having Bob there really fast tracked those niche learning areas – there wasn’t too much he couldn’t teach you in our area - and it was really helpful to have someone right beside me each week, where you can ask a question or take a phone call. It really helped me get to where I am today,” he said.

“Bob is a brilliant coach and mentor. And it was good to see Bob was able to hand over the reins and enjoy his retirement without too many phone calls.”

Where next?

Chris Ross Callide overhaul 2023 body

“With everything I’ve been able to do, it makes you wonder where you can go with it, and I know that in CS Energy and the power generation business, there’s a lot of opportunity,” Chris said.

“Being able to step into engineering and further studies has put a spark in me; there’s a lot more to learn and there’s a lot more you realise that you don’t know, so that’s always a good thing, putting you outside your comfort zone.”

Chris said his is a good story for young people coming into the business.

“You don’t have to stay in a lane – you can steer your career where you want it to go, whether it’s for CS Energy or in the power generation industry – there’s so much opportunity. You just have to have your eyes open and your perspective to it.

“My career has taken me into a few interesting places, and I’m in one of them right now – and I intend on keeping on going with that sort of approach, because it hasn’t failed me yet.

“Where these opportunities have led me is really exciting; what I’ve done so far, and where I’m at, it’s very fulfilling.”