Chad McKay’s desk may be located in Perth’s northern suburbs but you’d be lucky to catch him there. As operations manager for McKay Drilling, overseeing 20 drill rigs spread across Western Australia, “I travel almost on a weekly basis to visit our rigs and catch up with crews and clients,” he says.
Flying for face-to-face interactions is essential to the continued growth of the family business. When McKay’s crews started work with one of Australia’s largest mining companies on a trial basis 18 months ago, “we put a lot of focus into spending time onsite and having visible leadership, and they were really impressed with that”. As a result, the partnership yielded “the biggest drilling contract that company has ever awarded and the largest we’ve ever secured”.
With tens of millions of dollars worth of machinery in the field, McKay also flies to sites to audit safety protocols. Spending time with the company’s 200 employees is just as important. “Staff retention is a major issue for everyone in the industry. We’re on the phone to supervisors and drillers every day but you can’t lead effectively from a desktop in Perth. We need to be out there regularly to build relationships with employees.”
A former mechanic and driller, McKay remembers how vital it is to get the small things right. “If you’ve just done a long stint away, you want to know that you’re going to get home when you’re supposed to,” he says. “It’s why we choose Qantas; they fly to more places we work at times that are convenient and, most importantly, we know they’re reliable. And as a Qantas Business Rewards member, every point we earn makes travel more efficient.”