Kickass Women

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This month we caught up with Jo Sainsbury, a successful train driver and advocate for women’s empowerment who is breaking down barriers and helping young women navigate the workforce in the resources sector.

Based in Walkerston, Jo is committed to encouraging more women to take on roles in male-dominated industries. Her mission is to inspire and empower women to kick off their heels and become the leaders and changemakers they are born to be.

“Get Your Glo On…become a Glo Getter”, said Jo, whose online career coaching and mentoring helps women of all ages set a success mindset, build a kickass resume and toolkit, and get their boots on site.

Jo’s own journey is one of self-discovery and fulfillment as she transitioned from corporate and project management roles to becoming a train driver.

“I needed to find something new, something to push me to step out of my comfort zone and to challenge me,” shared Jo.

“A trainee train driver job advert came up. I filled out the online application and I sat there for about half an hour before I got the nerve to hit the submit button. We as women, we tend to second guess ourselves and our abilities. I’ve been train driving now for ten years and absolutely love the job.”

Jo believes that train driving is a job that anyone can do, regardless of gender, and the same goes for all jobs that are stereotypically male. She advocates for women to believe in themselves, improve their self-confidence, and for employers to take advantage of the untapped female talent pool.

Jo also spoke about the challenges that women face in the workforce, especially in male-dominated industries such as mining. She noticed that many women did not have the confidence to take up challenging roles and there was a lack of information available for females.

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Kickass Women emerged which is all about supporting a future for women working in non-traditional roles in the rail, mining, resources, STEM and construction industries.

“It’s about finding that kickass attitude within yourself, knowing your worth and getting out there. It’s about empowering women to be the best version of themselves, learning about their strengths, embracing everyone’s differences, and supporting others to shoot for the stars!

“Kickass Women offer basic entry level resources and training opportunities and a variety of interesting career prospects for women to find their version of success and Kickass attitude.”

In her role as a train driver, Jo had plenty of downtime, which she used to research and gather information. She wrote a book called High Heels to High Viz, which became an Amazon #1 bestseller. The book shares Jo’s journey through career changes and gives practical tips on how to develop self-confidence, update resumes and upskill oneself. Jo is a big advocate of lifelong learning and professional development, which she instils in herself and encourages others to follow.

“It became a little guide book showing women how to kick off their heels and tap into their steel caps and become a go getter. There’s lots of rewards and opportunity out there for all women,” said Jo.

When asked about her motivation for starting her advocacy work, Jo replied, “I got approached by lots of women asking what I did for a living? And I’d say, oh, I’m a coal train driver. Plenty of them would say, oh, I wouldn’t be able to do that, I wouldn’t know where to start and how do you work with all those blokes!

“I’m transitioning into a new role myself. I’m going to be permanently based out on site, so I’m stepping out of my comfort zone again and going into a whole new sector. I am terrified, but very much looking forward to it. I know I have a multitude of skills and qualities that I believe make me the ideal candidate for the role.

“Other women have got to believe in themselves as well. I get a lot of questions from women in the industry asking, do you think I could do this role? How do you think I should go about transitioning? Who should I talk to? It’s really morphed into career advisement and encouraging women to find their sponsors and mentors on site. If they’re already working out on site, get a support network, build up and build on those relationships. It’s about creating connections rather than exchanges, because then they help you move up the ladder and within your professional development.”

Apart from the book, Jo also hosts a podcast called Kickass Women, where she interviews inspiring women who have overcome challenges and achieved success. The podcast provides a platform for women to share their stories and inspire others to follow their dreams. Jo believes that women need to support each other and work together to break down barriers in the workforce.

Another one of the ways that Jo helps young women in the workforce is by hosting events and workshops. These events are designed to empower and inspire women to take charge of their careers and achieve their goals. Jo brings together a variety of experts and industry leaders to share their knowledge and experiences with the attendees. Company of Women have a bi monthly luncheon with over 100 women attending to network with other like-minded women in a casual social setting.

“Company of Women is not just for business or career women, it’s for mums, it’s for grandmas. Whether you’re working out of the garage or working in a boardroom, everyone and anyone is welcome to come along.”

In May, Kickass women are hosting their SHADES OF WOMEN fundraiser supported by Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal that is a female only glitz and glamor event and a fundraising endeavour like no other in a quest to provide support for women and their children affected by Domestic Violence. Money raised will be donated to Mackay Women’s Centre to support local women and children affected by domestic violence.

Jo also mentors’ young women in the workforce. She believes that mentoring is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth and that having a mentor can make all the difference in someone’s career. Jo is always willing to lend an ear and offer advice.

“My satisfaction is seeing women get results and rediscovering themselves. I have helped women get into the mines and into traineeships. They are just different women now. They’re financially independent. They have a quality of life that they didn’t have before. And that’s the reward, paying it forward pays back and I feel paid back by seeing their success.”

If you’re a young woman just starting out in your career, or if you’re looking for ways to take your career to the next level, Jo’s website is an incredible resource. Head to to find out more.

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