The small business making big waves in the energy sector

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Elena Short is one of the country’s few women who is not only an electrical and instrument (E&I) technician but also an electrical engineer.

On top of that, she is also a successful small business owner, having established an engineering company with her husband, Jamie, in the Queensland town of Chinchilla.

They both worked as E&I technicians in a variety of industries across Australia before settling in Chinchilla. It was here they recognised the potential to service a previously unfulfilled gap in the engineering market within the resource sector.

RiE was formed, and the team of two with offices in their living room has expanded to over 140 employees, largely thanks to their work in the natural gas industry.

The company has developed a service model which reduces the whole of life cycle cost for major clients in the gas, energy and production sectors.

“We ran the business from our house for the first five years, even holding meetings with QGC in our lounge room,” said Elena.

Jamie said their passion for the trade and getting things done properly is what grew their reputation and got them from their first sub-contract at Kogan Creek Power Station, to working with a variety of resource companies today.

“Without the resource sector the business would not have had the opportunities it has had,” Jamie said.

“We have built a strong team, and our staff turnover is one of the lowest in the industry,” said Elena.

“We are committed to ensuring our staff are the best in the industry, and this backed by a commitment to safety, ongoing training and innovation.”

Elena grew up helping her father work in mechanics and with an interest in fixing things, was encouraged by her three older brothers, to apply for an apprenticeship as an E&I technician at the Malanda Milk Factory in Far North Queensland.

“I was the only female in my trade at TAFE, and one of only two women enrolled in the Electrical Engineering Degree at USQ.” Elena said.

“It is great to see more women exploring opportunities in the resource sector,” Elena said. “I believe the resource sector is stable in the region, with growth potential in the next fifteen to twenty years.”

“I’m passionate about showing young kids they don’t need to move away and that there are opportunities to get in and get trained by a lot of companies in the area,” Elena said.

Article brought to you by Brighter (, an initiative of APPEA

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