The global mining industry is going through transformational changes with shifting priorities, technological advancements, and a stronger focus on sustainable and responsible mining. The perspectives of industry professionals, from their career trajectories to their views on leadership, work-life balance, and diversity, can offer an intriguing insight into the industry’s future. We have interviewed five seasoned professionals from the mining sector, each with a unique journey, challenges, and insights.
The Advocate for Diverse Thinking
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Senior business leader and project management specialist with deep experience leading small to large BUs & project teams in Owner & EPC/M companies, encompassing all stages of greenfield & brownfield CAPEX projects for the mining, refining, up & downstream oil & gas, civil, & manufacturing sectors.
Peter Crane, from SER Solutions, sees his journey as one of perpetual learning. Crane emphasizes the role of vocational education in shaping his career, stressing that it instilled him with essential self-esteem and confidence. Crane notices substantial changes in the industry, not all necessarily positive, and cautions against taking career growth for granted, insisting that those desiring advancement must strive for better roles.
Crane asserts that technical skills, while vital, are irrelevant to leadership. He champions the importance of leadership, organizational, and motivational skills, suggesting that technical experts require their unique career path as subject matter experts rather than specific leaders. Crane encourages individuals to focus on how they can contribute and help others, rather than seeking personal gain. To improve the mining industry, he urges the sector to adopt diverse ways of thinking, break down silos, and recognize the value that different experiences bring.
A strategic manager with extensive experience in taking P&L accountability for multi-million dollar programs of work in Owner & EPC/M companies, including general management of start-up & in-place BU’s with approximately 250 multi-discipline staff. They specialize in full lifecycle project management and strategic leadership of client-side ‘identify & assess’ phases, including pre-feasibility, feasibility & planning. They lead multi-discipline technical teams to deliver high-value contracts safely, on-time & on-budget, whilst promoting positive cultural change & thought leadership, delivering enhanced profitability and performance for BUs with P&Ls of $95M/annum. Their key areas of expertise include structuring, leading, aligning & developing high-performing project teams, market analysis, business planning & full P&L management, leading the strategic delivery of energy & resources infrastructure projects, leading the successful inception of major cultural change, and high-level commercial acumen.
The Beacon of Patience and Honesty
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Abi Iltireh, an industry veteran, values patience, honesty, and a receptive attitude. Though his career’s trajectory was largely self-determined, he believes in the significance of lessons learned from all situations, especially from one’s own mistakes. Iltireh stresses the importance of both managerial and technical skills, and his advice to aspiring professionals centers on patience, openness, and integrity.
Abi Iltireh RSP is a superintendent of health and safety in a mining company. He has a long track record of developing top-class safe work procedures, risk assessments, and safety cultural change impact. He has successfully improved safety performance, reduced work process risks, and raised safety awareness in a difficult poor safety culture environment. His biggest achievement was decreasing the number of accidents by 81% in one year. He is a collaborative, innovative, and driven professional who can effectively control risks and prevent harm to people and damage to company equipment. He also gathers, hires, trains, and builds a trusted and ready-to-take-over member of staff who are capable of providing specialist H&S advice.
The Proponent of Self-awareness
Charles Matthews advises young professionals to understand their passions before committing to a career. Though he identifies his career path as somewhat narrow, he recognizes the role of the mining industry in the present and future economies. Matthews emphasizes the importance of managerial skills and the need for better training and qualifications.
The Green Recruitment Company is a leading specialist provider of global recruitment solutions to the Green Energy Sector. They provide talented individuals across the renewable energy sector in Europe and the United Kingdom in areas such as origination, operations, risk & trading, solar, and wind in South Africa and the UK. Their expertise spans across the green energy journey, specifically in Renewable Energy Generation, Energy Distribution, and Energy Management. They are headquartered in London with international offices located in Europe, Australia, USA, and China.
They operate across the complete renewables lifecycle, in both upstream and downstream disciplines through to consultancies and finance houses. They offer services such as Executive Search and Contingent Recruitment to Global Contractor Mobilization and Managed Service Provision. They have a team of experts that allows them to provide their clients and candidates with expert support no matter the location or specialism.
The Champion of Empathy and Leadership
Spruce Pine, North Carolina, United States
Angela Poston, from Blue Ridge Premier Safety, underscores the importance of empathy and effective leadership. She highlights the value of an open mind and learning from mistakes, instead of indulging in self-blame. Poston believes that today’s managers are excessively focused on self-advancement, neglecting to be true leaders. She champions caring for employees, listening to them, and prioritizing leadership over corporate ladder climbing.
She started her career as an operator in a plant, a challenging environment due to being the only woman. With the support of mentors and leaders, she transitioned into the field of safety and management. Angela gained a wealth of experience from observing incorrect practices and uses these examples in their current role as a trainer. They dislike conventional, monotonous training methods, and instead strive to keep participants engaged in conversation, believing this encourages thinking and learning. Her ultimate goal is to help companies train their employees in a way that generates enthusiasm about safety. They find deep satisfaction and love in what they do.
The Steward of Creativity and Negotiation
Brisbane, Thornton, New South Wales, Australia
Keith Rowley, from Sydney Business Web, holds a unique perspective on work-life balance, which he describes as a “myth propagated by those who resent having to work for a living.” Rowley, a technical expert who later pursued an MBA, encourages a mix of skills, arguing that a good leader needs more than just engineering skills. He advocates for negotiation skills and not taking passing fads as reality. Rowley points out that the industry has become overly defined, not allowing for enough creativity and gut instinct. His solution: focus on professionalism, not fleeting perks..
Keith Rowley is an engineering and management professional with experience in business management and technology roles in Australia and internationally. He integrates companies into cohesive, goal-oriented entities around strong culture and common values. He has a track record of success driving large multi-disciplinary R&D teams and profitable business units. He is also a joint owner of Sydney Business Web, which provides advanced business websites and eCommerce technology to businesses small and large. He finds the pain-points in companies’ strategies for revenue generation and ‘eases the pain’ with solutions.
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Each of these industry professionals’ views is shaped by their unique experiences and career trajectories, shedding light on the opportunities and challenges within the mining industry. They highlight the importance of diverse thinking, patience, empathy, self-awareness, creativity, and negotiation. There’s a collective call for more effective leadership, better training and qualifications, and an emphasis on continuous learning and growth. Their insights illuminate the path forward for the mining industry, echoing the need for transformation, professionalism, and holistic development.
As the mining industry progresses, the perspectives of these professionals provide a glimpse into the potential future of the sector. The collective wisdom culled from their experiences and insights paint a vibrant picture of an industry poised to tackle new challenges and opportunities.
A Cross-Section of Perspectives
Peter Crane underscores the necessity of broadening one’s perspective and embracing diverse ways of thinking and problem-solving. His comments highlight the need for leadership skills beyond technical know-how, focusing on organization and motivation.
Abi Iltireh’s advice centers around the virtues of patience, honesty, and acceptance. His career insights underscore the significance of every situation as a learning opportunity and the importance of humility in acknowledging one’s mistakes.
Charles Matthews, with his emphasis on self-awareness, underscores the significance of aligning personal passions with career commitments. His views mirror the need for industry-specific qualifications and robust training programs to facilitate career growth.
Angela Poston emphasizes the value of empathy and effective leadership, reminding us that individuals, not just profit margins, form the backbone of the industry. She criticizes the overemphasis on self-promotion and calls for managers to be true leaders who genuinely care about their teams.
Keith Rowley’s candid perspective on work-life balance provides a counterpoint to the ongoing discourse. His emphasis on creativity and negotiation skills, along with a mix of technical and managerial prowess, underscores the multifaceted nature of leadership.
The Path Forward
The mining industry, guided by such diverse perspectives and experiences, stands at an interesting crossroads. The sector must address these voices advocating for stronger leadership, more comprehensive training and qualifications, greater self-awareness, and a broader perspective.
These professionals’ insights indicate the necessity of evolving traditional industry norms. Emphasis on the development of softer skills such as empathy, motivation, and diverse problem-solving capabilities should complement technical skill training. This approach will not only encourage a more inclusive and effective leadership style but also promote a healthier, more balanced industry culture.
Moreover, the focus should be on promoting an environment that encourages learning from mistakes, demonstrating patience, and accepting different situations as learning opportunities. The industry must also strive for greater self-awareness among its workforce, encouraging individuals to align their career aspirations with their personal passions.
As the mining industry advances, it is clear that its success will rely heavily on its ability to embrace diverse perspectives, encourage strong leadership, foster an environment conducive to continuous learning, and ensure a balance of technical and managerial skills within its workforce. The insights provided by these professionals offer a valuable blueprint for the industry’s future, echoing the need for continual growth, transformation, and adaptation.
Profiling The Modern Mining Professional
Drawing from these insights, we can form a composite profile of the modern mining professional – a person who understands the significance of their role within the broader context of their industry and the global economy.
This individual appreciates the importance of a well-rounded skill set that combines both managerial and technical expertise. They value continuous learning and growth, appreciating the role of education and experience in shaping their career and developing essential attributes such as self-esteem and confidence.
While they recognize that the mining industry is undergoing substantial changes, they remain adaptable and resilient. They acknowledge that not all of these changes are necessarily positive, and they’re prepared to strive for better roles and opportunities, rather than waiting for promotions to be handed to them.
They have a collaborative mindset and understand that their success depends on their ability to work effectively with others. They strive to contribute and help others, rather than seeking personal gain, and they value the lessons learned from all situations, including their own mistakes.
In terms of leadership, they believe that technical skills, while important, are not the only prerequisite for effective leadership. Instead, they champion the importance of leadership, organizational, and motivational skills. They also understand the value of empathy and effective communication in fostering a healthy and productive work environment.
Despite the challenges and pressures of their industry, they remain positive and optimistic. They view work-life balance not as an elusive ideal, but as a realistic and achievable goal. They’re prepared to negotiate for the best possible conditions and benefits, and they don’t allow passing trends or fads to distract them from their core professional values.
Above all, they remain committed to their industry and their profession, striving to improve the mining industry by adopting diverse ways of thinking, breaking down silos, and recognising the value that different experiences bring.
This composite profile, shaped by the unique experiences and insights of Peter Crane, Abi Iltireh, Charles Matthews, Angela Poston, and Keith Rowley, offers an inspiring and informative guide for anyone aspiring to succeed in the mining industry. It underscores the fact that success in this sector requires not just technical expertise, but also a broad range of personal and professional skills, a collaborative and empathetic approach to work, and a deep commitment to continuous learning and growth.