Embarking on extreme leadership

2018–19 Antarctic station leaders

Video transcript

Davis Station Leader, Simon Goninon

It’s been a life goal for me for many years. So I've been quite conscious of just in the background, filling in what I thought might have been gaps to prep myself, to make myself a good candidate for the role.

Just the appeal of the isolation and the remoteness and, and the beauty and just how well respected and cared for the environment is, is really something special. It gives me that rare opportunity to dive into that and be a part of it and contribute to that conservation.

I’m really looking forward to getting everyone on station working together. That whole community sense is really appealing for me. I like to be a part of that kind of space and I think everyone that goes down there just genuinely wants to work well and do their jobs well and get the right outcomes for the science projects that we are there to support.

Casey Station Leader, Chris MacMillian

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, so I've seen the Northern Lights, 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 in the changes that occur, particularly in the winds and, yeah experiencing all that and hopefully getting the forecast right to be able to do our operations as well.

Mawson Station Leader, Kyle Williams

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 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.

And 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.

Macquarie Island Station Leader, Kat Panjari

I’m really excited to be heading to Macquarie Island for the wildlife. I think working in partnership with Tas Parks and the Rangers, we'll have such wonderful access to penguin colonies and elephant seals. And to be living so closely with that wildlife, is going to be really exciting for the team.

The thing I like the most about being a Station Leader is bringing a diverse team of people together from all sorts of different technical backgrounds and having a shared vision contributing to the science program.

So I’m really excited to be working with the Division’s Modernisation Program, to start the planning for the construction phase of the new state-of-the-art research station on Macquarie Island. And it’s going to give us increased capacity to do all sorts of interesting research and have less of an environmental impact on the island as well.

[end transcript]

Portrait of man
Mawson station leader Simon Goninon (Photo: Glenn Jacobson)
Portrait of a womenMawson Station Leader, Kyle WilliamsMacquarie Island Station Leader, Kat Panjari

A passion for leading teams in extreme conditions is driving our new Antarctic Station Leaders this season.

Simon Goninon will be in the leadership role at Davis research station, where he will lead a team of up to 100 expeditioners over the next 12 months.

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.

Simon will oversee a busy science program including 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.

Kyle Williams will be Station Leader at Mawson research station.

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.

He thinks the role with the Australian Antarctic Program is the best leadership and management job on the planet. This season at Mawson his team will be supporting some key seabird research on penguins and petrels.

On sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, Kat Panjari, will be leading the team.

Kat has had an extensive career in local and state government in Victoria and Western Australia. She also been Station Leader at Mawson station over winter.

This season on Macquarie Island, Kat will be supporting a range of science projects and the beginning of the construction phase of the new station.