Developing Your Mining Career: an Interview with Adam Melnik

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As part of the  “Developing Your Mining Career” program, a career development program delivered in partnership with AusIMM’s New Professionals Committee and Floreat Consulting Australia, we are publishing a series of interviews with mining professionals who are having outstanding careers. In this second post in the series we speak to Adam Melnik. Thank you to Spiro Pippos for conducting these interviews on behalf of the New Professionals Committee. 

Adam Melnik 
  1. Please give a short overview of your career and describe your current role

My career success can largely be attributed to working hard to meet the right people and apply myself, regardless of the commodity price backdrop. I completed seven internships during my engineering and business degrees from 2005-2011 and built a strong breadth of experience that helped me not only survive the storm when commodity prices were volatile, but thrive.

  1. What has had the largest positive impact on your career progression to support you reach your current role?

The relationships I have forged in the classroom, in the workplace, at conferences, and online have allowed me to achieve my desired career progression. My colleagues helped me align myself with corporates to pursue internship opportunities. I worked with several head hunters on LinkedIn to secure full time employment by creating an attractive profile and attaining interviews that were never made available publically. I have met talented and well connected people at conferences and events that have allowed me to expand my network and umbrella of influence. Focus on building strong relationships, they pay the best dividends if you invest your time and energy.

  1. What has been the largest challenge to your career progression? 

The largest challenge I have experienced in my full-time career is plateauing within a firm. In equity research, your original thoughts on a company help you create value within a firm and reporting to senior analysts can be tedious and trying at times. Patience is a virtue. Eventually you will be recognized for your hard effort and given the right opportunities to apply your skills. If you aren’t achieving this in the timeframe you have set out it is time to transition to a competitor. Always remember to make your superiors look good and don’t dwell on the fact that you did so – they will recall your efforts when the time is key, such as when you ask for a transfer, raise, or promotion.

  1. What surprised you about the work when you first moved into a role managing people? (if you have managed people)

I don’t currently have a direct report but I do work on a team of mining analysts and we often have to collaborate on large sector or thematic research pieces. What I learnt the most about while working in equity research is how important managing expectations and working with discretion are. When writing about IPOs or being brought over the wall on a deal or roadshowing a company it is incredibly important to be honest about what you plan to accomplish and on what timeline and keeping that information protected. Under-promise and over-deliver – receiving more than you expected sooner than you expected it is always preferable to less, later.

  1. What is your advice to people starting out in their careers in the Mining sector?

Leverage technology and never be afraid to invest in yourself. Mining companies have earned a notorious reputation for under investing in technology, which is somewhat understanding given the nature of developing long life assets and being tasked with ensuring stable production and cash flows. However, the rest of the world operates on a different model. Be sure you are honing your skills in the latest mine design and geologic modelling software, leveraging LinkedIn to its full capacity, and staying in the loop with sector related news from sources like the Mining Journal and investment blogs. Information is king in the age of big data – don’t get left behind.

Investing in yourself through higher education and technical programs is strong advised. I was able to triple my salary by pursuing business school and I am on my way to completing both my PEng and PGeo. Understanding your interests and expanding your capabilities is key to maximizing your value and this is what education is all about. Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make.

  1. Can you tell us about how your network has supported and assisted your career along the way?

As I have eluded to previously, your network and commitment to maintaining and building it is immensely important. Managing your contacts and network has never been easier with LinkedIn and so there is really no excuse not to throw yourself out there and meet other smart and talented people. I have found that especially in banking, there can be a higher rate of turnover relative to other industries. So, with your work environment and colleagues constantly changing over it is even more important to maintain a strong network and leverage the tools at your disposal.

  1. What are three interesting careers that you have seen your colleagues do or are aspiring to do?

My colleagues from the University of Waterloo have pursued several different career paths in the mining industry. A few work with engineering consulting firms, flying all over the world preparing technical reports, resource evaluations, and environmental studies. One of my friends works for a fund management firm focussed on investing in mining companies and financing new mining projects. Many of my contacts work internationally a mine sites where they get to learn about different cultures and operating environments. What I find the most inspiring is not the work alone but the passion that my colleagues express and the excitement they share with me about the future potential of the deposits they are emotionally invest in, and usually financially invested in too!