Rob Interviews The Group Head of Mining at ICL Group Tim Daffern – Dig Deep – The Mining Podcast

In this episode, Rob interviews Tim Daffern. They discuss the…


In this episode, Rob interviews Tim Daffern. They discuss the routes that can be taken at the beginning of a mining career and also the skills and attributes that any aspiring MD should be looking to develop as their career progresses.   

We also gain an insight into how Tim has managed companies through challenging periods and the skills he has employed to successfully turn them around. 



  • Tim’s mining career began in his native Australia where after university he started out as an operative and then had further training as he progressed. 


  • He has always seen engineering and technical skills whilst working with the men and the machinery as the cornerstone to his strengths providing him with the platform to reach senior and executive management. 


  • He always had an interest in the technical and wanted to know why it was being done that way and if it could be done differently to bring improvements. 


  • What advice would you offer a graduate? 

All young graduates should seek roles in operating, there are more opportunities in Australia due to the scale of mining. 

A lot of UK mines, including London based financial businesses like graduates who’ve gone out to Africa or Australia and done 5 or 7 years to gain practical experience, there are potentially very good jobs in the UK in consulting, financial institutions or in operating mines. 


  • What are some of the key skills in executive management? 

Fundamentally it’s about teamwork and about pragmatic leadership. It is about having profoundly strong engineering and technical skills and sharing those in a way that is about teaching other people to solve problems. 


It’s not about giving the solutions it’s about working as a team and helping the team to develop their problem-solving skills. Establishing a peer review process will help build the skills of the team further. 


  • You’ve worked for mining companies, consultancies and a merchant bank 

What the difference between these organisations? 

There are similarities – you need to have a good understanding of technical and engineering matters across all areas. 

You need to be strong communicator, with good written and verbal skills. 

You need to have confidence in your own skill level 

The differences are; 

Mining Operation is focused on cash generation 

Consultancy is about providing detailed advice 

Merchant banking involves both complex commercial skills as well as an understanding of a corporate situation. 


  • Would you need different attributes for each area/ organisation? 

In Merchant banking, you need to be very articulate so this would need to be a very strong skill, a solid commercial corporate understanding is also necessary. 


A Mining company is about balancing and compromising between technical operations and cost. 


In Consultancy, you are hired to produce detailed reports and you need detailed technical skills and the communication skills both to record accurately and present your work to others. 


  • What should someone who has aspirations to be a CEO or MD look to develop? 

Start with teamwork, you must be comfortable both as leader, follower and team member. Developing your own interpersonal skills is a key attribute. 


You should develop strong technical and engineering skills – ‘a need to know, how this works?’ 

You will also need to develop commercial skills building these up through a Master’s programme or professional training. – many individuals further their business administration skills through an MBA. 


Throughout your career working in different areas will develop an understanding of sales, accounting, administration, human resources, and marketing 


You need, not only to have the full range of skills but also breadth and depth across those skills, being an MD is about a commitment to the investors and shareholders – a responsibility – you are trying to return a good profit to the shareholders. 



‘It’s because they have practical experience’ 

‘To have credibility you need to have 5 years in a practical role/ site experience’   

‘Miners are very innovative artisans’   

‘It’s not just a blunt 2-dimensional task it’s a 3-dimensional approach to hueing rock out of the ground’ 

‘Get out there and get practical work’   

‘Working together as a team’ 

It’s demanding but intensely satisfying’  

‘Providing resources for society to continue to develop’   

‘Keep it practical’ 





Rob Tyson 

Rob Tyson is an established recruiter in the mining and quarrying sector and decided to produce the “Dig Deep” The Mining Podcast to provide valuable and informative content around the mining industry. He has a passion and desire to promote the industry and the podcast aims to offer the mining community an insight to people’s experiences and careers covering any mining discipline, giving the listeners helpful advice and guidance on industry topics. 

Rob is the Founder and Director of Mining International Ltd, a leading global recruitment and headhunting consultancy based in the UK specialising in all areas of mining across the globe from the first world to third world countries from Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. We source, headhunt and discover new and top talent through a targeted approach and search methodology and have a proven track record in sourcing and positioning exceptional candidates into our clients’ organisation in any mining discipline or level. Mining International provides a transparent, informative and trusted consultancy service to our candidates and clients to help them develop their careers and business goals and objectives in this ever-changing marketplace. 


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Guest bio – Tim Daffern 

Tim Daffern who has over 30 years in the mining industry share his journey starting off as a miner (down in the pit) back in the day, then rising up through the ranks and has been in many executive management positions where he specialises in turning companies fortunes around. He is currently the Group Head of Mining at ICL Group and interested in Tim’s career having managed companies in CEO & MD capacity and in this podcast he provides valuable content and advice in how he managed these companies successfully and what it takes to work at that level. 




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