Category Archives: AusIMM

Developing Your Mining Career: an Interview with Adam Hearne

The New Professionals Committee of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) and Floreat Consulting Australia are giving new professional members of AusIMM ways to develop their careers through a new program Developing Your Mining Career.

Through a series of interactive online modules, career success stories (like Adam Hearne’s below!) and other events and activities, Developing Your Mining Career supports young mining professionals make the most of their potential.

This week, AusIMM member Spiro Pippos talks to Adam Hearne about his career and his advice to other aspiring mining professionals.

Adam

 Please give a short overview of your career and describe where you are looking to head post MBA

The mining and commodities sector has an abundance of career opportunities. I started out at Rio Tinto on their graduate program in 2007. I had 3 rotations on the grad program before I found my career preference and started getting promoted through the ranks. My first major role was to assist in process improvements around the organisation. That role lead to many other opportunities and I had a chance to see the different parts of a mining company.

Post my London Business School MBA I would like to move in to a senior project management role. I would like to work on projects that can deliver step change improvements to profit and production. The future of mining rests heavily on evolving operations to the next level. Mining has achieved a lot so far by scaling everything up. Bigger mines, bigger trucks, bigger ships, more processing capacity. The future now depends on utilising technology and developing assets in some of the most challenging geographies. Mining can be smarter, more automated and more sustainable. We need talented individuals to be part of an industry that can offer so much to the future as it grows to meet the world’s growing demand for resources.

What has had the largest positive impact on your career progression to support you reach your position?

The largest positive impact on my career progression has come from a handful of mentors that have always been available for guidance and direction. You need people that you can trust for an opinion when it counts. A great mentor once told me to always think two jobs ahead and develop yourself accordingly.

What has been the largest challenge to your career progression?

The largest challenge to my career progression was ​when the global financial crisis hit and many projects were paused or put on hold. Priorities shifted from rapid expansion, to cost cutting. Morale can drop quickly when uncertainty hits. Like any boom and bust cycle, there is a lot to be gained by riding out the tough times and making the most of the recovery period. There is always work for great people. Take it upon yourself to be flexible and optimistic when these challenges arise.

What surprised you about the work when you first moved into a role managing people?

It surprised me how satisfying it was to see my team members succeed and get praise. I recall the first occasion where I got a phone call from another supervisor about the great work done by one of my junior team members. That moment is hard to forget and it doesn’t get any better than that as a leader!

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

Starting out I would say build one or two skills that help you stand out in a team and deliver value. Make it your highest priority to add value to your immediate setting whatever it may be. Once you are a solid contributor in your team, extend your potential by understanding the culture of the environment you operate in. You will have many doors open for you once people notice that you can work in a variety of settings and still achieve outstanding results.

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

Networking with a purpose is underrated in the mining industry. I owe most of my key successes to opportunities that started in my network. People have helped me keep a good sense of career direction as I’ve moved from one challenge to the next. Sometimes you just need to have a coffee with someone who can give you a fresh perspective on what you are working on. I’ve also found that a network can help you navigate a large organisation. For example, the graduate program was a great chance to meet a cross-section of the organisation and build a network for long-term success. Years after the graduate program, I was able to reach out to people at headquarters, or at a site, and get support or guidance.

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

Three interesting careers/roles I’ve seen are:​

  1. Diamond marketing and sales: The people that I’ve seen work in this area have such a valuable product and subsequently such a lot of pressure to get their sales and marketing strategy right. I would highly recommend working in this area if you wanted to learn more about pricing and channel strategy.
  2. Chief of technology projects: There is a lot of innovation happening in mining due to technology that has really matured in the last decade. A colleague in this role has been involved with a world leading implementation of driverless trucks. The fleet managed to achieve a supervising ratio of 1 supervisor to 18 trucks. Now that department is looking externally for greater innovation opportunities.
  3. Internal strategy consultant: There are endless opportunities for an aspiring consultant in a large diversified mining company. There is an abundance of operational problems to tackle, as well as forward-looking strategy to define.

Developing Your Mining Career – Program Outline

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Developing Your Mining Career

A career development program for early career mining professionals

A new collaboration between AusIMM’s New Professionals Committee and Floreat Consulting Australia brings you Developing Your Mining Career: a career development program consisting of 4 webinars, exclusive online content and individual support for early career mining professionals that will support you to gain:

  • A clear idea of your career purpose, options and tactics – your own Career Development Plan
  • New insights into your own background, skills and experience that will help to better plan for their future
  • Advice on a best-quality resume that better reflects your career aspirations
  • An online toolkit of models and materials to help progress their career – exclusive to participants

Prior to the first module in September 2015, participants will receive an introductory letter explaining the program in further detail.

Please follow this link to REGISTER.

Overview of the Program

The program will take place over 8 weeks and consists of 4x 1 hour webinars, supported by online modules and individual support.

Module 1 Understand your options by exploring what you can learn from your own and others’ career

Module 2 Develop a career purpose that really excites and energises you

Module 3 Get clear on the challenges and opportunities that are relevant to your purpose

Module 4 Understand your options and tactics for achieving your goals and career purpose

Support for Participants

Each participant will receive individual support during the program including:

  • Help develop an energising career development plan
  • Review and de-brief the results of the career preferences analysis
  • Develop an outstanding new resume

Sam and Scott from Floreat Consulting Australia will facilitate the online webinars and provide individual support participants. Please  find their profiles here.

Program Flyer: Developing Your Mining Career.

Developing Your Mining Career: an Interview with Spencer Davey

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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 Spencer Davey. Thank you to Spiro Pippos for conducting these interviews on behalf of the New Professionals Committee. 

Spencer Davey

1. Please give a short overview of your career and describe where you are looking to head post MBA

In my career, I’ve had the opportunity to experience vastly different perspectives in mining & metals. I consider myself a mining professional, having acquired a broad set of experiences as an engineer, a management consultant, and most recently in corporate finance and business development. I’ve mostly been Perth based, but have worked extensively through both remote and metro areas of Australia, and also through-out the Asia Pacific region.

I studied a double degree in Mechatronics Engineering and Finance – and while I did work as an engineer for a couple of years, the plan was always to move into a more commercial role as that is where my passion laid. I saw management consulting as a great opportunity to “fast track” that career move, and it did. I had no intention of becoming a partner in a management consultancy, but I used the role to build skills in strategy and commercial acumen, financial analysis, communication skills, and general management skills.

I moved “in-house” to Fortescue Metals Group when a role became available for a Senior Financial Analyst. I jumped at the chance, because at the time Fortescue was the Cinderella story of Western Australia, and was going through a US$10bn expansion of its operations. It was also run by colourful and high profile mining captains of industry, whom I thought I could learn from if I ever decided to be part of a new mining development one day.

The role at Fortescue did not disappoint. I was exposed to the corporate world of mining, and I had the opportunity to work on multi-billion debt restructuring, billion dollar equity transactions, and my travel took me from the remote operations of Fortescue to the head offices of bulge bracket investment banks and legal firms in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China.

Post MBA, I’m looking to move into Private Equity with a mining focus. Due to its speculative nature, mining was traditionally an industry that was avoided by private equity. However, in recent years, a number of high profile global mining leaders have left their executive positions and have raised an aggregate of US$50bn to invest in the industry, to take advantage of depressed commodity prices and valuations. For me, I find this an exciting time and would love to part of the next wave of investment into the industry.

2. What has had the largest positive impact on your career progression to support you reach your position?

The largest positive impact on my career progression was being involved in a US$1.15bn cross-border transaction between Fortescue Metals Group, and Taiwan based Formosa Plastics Group. This transaction provided the initial funds to develop a 5.2bt magnetite asset in remote Western Australia, and first ore on ship is expected in 2015! The experience on this transaction exposed to international business and negotiation, and the root-source of capital financing for large scale mining projects.

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

The largest challenge for me was the transition from a technical based, engineering role, to the commercial based, management consulting role. The transition required a huge investment in time on my part, to “get up to speed”. Further, making a career change meant that I took a substantial pay cut, by essentially starting again from the bottom.

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

The thing that surprised me when I moved into a position of actually managing people was the difficulty in letting go of doing the work. I found it very difficult to delegate, and this was an issue on my part in wanting to control the outcome.

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

My advice would be to take an active interest in all the aspects of your mining company. Mining is a great industry, as it brings together a tremendous diversity of professionals – everything from trades, geologists, engineers, accountants, lawyers, blue-collar, white-collar… if you think of a mining company, almost every type of career of job imaginable is represented in some way! So, as a younger person starting out, leverage this opportunity to learn from this diversity. Everyone has a different perspective, and your career development will benefit from learning from all these perspectives.

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

Networking is by far one of the most important skills to have for career development. My role at Fortescue came about through a call from an ex-colleague, and my progress through Fortescue (I got promoted to Business Development Manager after 18 months) was a direct result of networking through the business itself.

Networking is what creates the “luck” in your career, and ensures that you’re in the “right place at the right time”.

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

Head of sales and marketing, Fortescue Metals Group
This individual is in charge of the marketing and sale of 155 mtpa of Iron Ore, translating into over US$10bn in sales annually. David has to navigate the intricacies of managing Australia-China relations, and conduct business and negotiations between two very different cultures, in a commodity that is very significant for the economies of both nations

GM Business Development, Fortescue Metals Group
As the Head of Business Development, this individual needs to work across a very wide range of activities and issues, including multi-billion dollar transactions, litigation, internal cost optimisation and corporate strategy. In this role he reports directly to the CEO of Fortescue, and has to deal with all types of stakeholders, including State Members of Parliament, regulatory bodies, heads of global heads of corporations, and advisors.

Head of Mining – KPMG
This individual founded a management consulting practice called Momentum Partners. In ten years it grew to be one of Australia’s largest independent management consultancies, and was most recently acquired by KPMG. This individual is now is the national lead for Mining Consultancy in Australia.

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!

Developing Your Mining Career: an Interview with James Lachlan Miller

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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. Thank you to Spiro Pippos for conducting these interviews on behalf of the New Professionals Committee. 

James Lachlan Miller
  1. Please give a short overview of your career and describe your current role

I worked for Anglo American for 6 years across 3 continents where I worked in operations, project management, corporate planning and business improvement roles. My most recent position was as the Lead Process Engineer for a Greenfield niobium mine development in central Brazil. Currently I am completing an MBA at the London Business School with a view of moving into management consulting or private equity.

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

The advice and support of mentors, both academic and personnel. Mentors can provide a high-resolution external opinion on one’s career path. This advice has been particularly useful when provided by those who have walked in my shoes.

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

When performing at a high-level in your role, it is only natural that the immediate business unit will like you to stay where you are. Sometimes the interests of your company will conflict with your long-term interests. For this reason I found it critical always to be the master of your own progression and not expect the company to do it on your behalf.

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

People management is infinitely more difficult than technical problems. A technical challenge frequently has a clear answer. If it’s not known, there is always a book or theorem you can rely on to assist you. People are unique, however, and there needs, desires and motivations need to be clearly understood before you can expect to leverage their support.

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

The mining sector will always be cyclical, so agility is paramount. Don’t get pigeon holed and always have an alternative sector or role function to pivot to for when the cycle next hits its bottom!

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

Nearly everything I have achieved professionally was through the support of my colleagues (specifically my managers and immediate team members).

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

Work in an investment house, consulting on the acquisition and disposal of mining assets in Switzerland.

Develop a software business providing customised geological mapping tools for resources (who shortly thereafter sold the aforementioned business to retire 20 years earlier than planned)

Work for an NGO as an operational planner in southern Africa, after leaving his career with the same role at a major mining firm.