Embarking on extreme leadership

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Kyle has previously served as a station leader on Macquarie Island. (Photo: Australian Antarctic Division)
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A passion for leading teams in extreme conditions is taking three Antarctic station leaders to the icy continent for the first time.

In October, Kyle Williams will set sail for Davis research station, where he will lead a team of up to 100 expeditioners over the next 12 months.

This will be the former police officer’s second stint as an Australian Antarctic Division Station Leader, after spending a year on sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island in 2017.

Kyle will oversee a busy science program including the first Antarctic trials of an unmanned ‘yellow’ submarine, research on the Sørsdal Glacier and the installation of an atmospheric measurement instrument or LIDAR.

Casey research station will be led by operations specialist Chris MacMillian over the next 12 months.

Chris has a background in search and rescue with the US Coast Guard and Australian Maritime Search and Rescue Authority.

She is a self-confessed weather tragic and is looking forward to seeing the colourful atmospheric lights of the aurora australis for the first time.

Her team will support scientists drilling ice cores at Law Dome over summer and retrieving equipment from the Totten Glacier which has been measuring ice speed and flow.

In early 2019, Simon Goninon, will pack his bags for Mawson, Australia’s oldest research station.

With a background in policing and operations in the hospitality and tourism sector, Simon has wanted to work in Antarctica for most of his adult life, watching Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis sail up and down the River Derwent in his home state of Tasmania.

Mawson station will host the Antarctic Arts Fellows and seabird scientists based at Béchervaise Island tagging Adèlie penguins for the summer. 

2018-19 Antarctic station leaders

Video transcript

Kyle Williams:
My name is Kyle Williams and I'll be the station leader at Davis station this season and I'll be there for the full 12 months for the summer and winter seasons. This will be my second stint as a station leader with the Antarctic Division. Last season I was very fortunate to go to Macquarie Island and I had a fantastic experience there both personally and professionally and I couldn't wait to come back and be involved in the Program. I think that this is the best leadership and management job on the planet. You get to manage a high-tempo operational program using a range of sea, land and air assets. You get to facilitate and support the completion of some really high value science projects that have some really important outcomes for both the Australian and international scientific communities. You get to a lead a fantastic group of people from a range of diverse backgrounds - and you don't just get to lead them - you get to work with them and build this really unique community that leads to some really fantastic experiences and memories and friendships that last for a lifetime. Probably the best part of all that, is you get to do all those things whilst working in perhaps arguably the most beautiful yet challenging workplace on the planet. So for me, there's nothing else that I'd like to do.

Chris MacMillian:
My name is Chris MacMillan and I'm going down to Casey station for the next 12 months. I'm lucky enough to be the station leader this year and so I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to work in the Antarctic for a whole year with a great bunch of people. I've always liked that operational type focus and purpose and making a difference in those type of jobs. I've never seen the Southern Lights - I've seen the Northern Lights - so I'm looking to enjoy that and also just the changing weather patterns that come through so quickly and Casey I understand is very very dramatic and the changes that occur, particularly in the winds, and experiencing all that and hopefully getting the forecast right to be able to do our operations as well.

Simon Goninon:
I'm Simon and I've been lucky enough to be assigned to Mawson station for the coming winter. Everyone keeps calling it the spectacular station, so I'm pretty excited about that! I'll be the station leader for Mawson, so looking after the team on deck and keeping everyone in support of science programs and making sure the station continues to run well and especially getting ready for the following summer season. The terrain around the station will be fantastic to explore - if I'm fortunate enough to get that opportunity. I like to camp,  I like to get outdoors and enjoy myself and get in amongst nature and scenery - that's my wife's influence there - and hopefully that there'll be some opportunities to do that. So I'll jump on the boat in January 2019 and get back on the boat to come home March 2020. 

[end transcript]