In April this year, I attended the AusIMM Congress in Newcastle as a representative of the AusIMM New Professionals Network (NPN).
The purpose of Congress is to get representatives from each AusIMM branch and society together to discuss the future of the organisation, which feeds into the strategic planning cycle undertaken by the AusIMM Board. This year’s theme was ‘Creating Opportunities in a Changing Environment’, and the two days were broken into sessions that covered topics related to this theme, such as future challenges for the Institute, ethics, and the use of technology to engage and develop AusIMM members.
This year, nine graduates and twelve students attended Congress, making up a combined total of 28 per cent of delegates. This is impressive, given that 19 per cent of AusIMM members are of graduate or student grade. However, greater representation by new professionals and students at this event can provide benefits to both the individual and the organisation, three of which I’ll discuss below.
One of the key benefits of attending Congress is the opportunity to network. You have two days to converse with engaged industry leaders, both past and present. There is time to connect with others during the formal sessions, as well as more informally through meeting breaks, and at the end-of-day social functions. The great part about networking at Congress is that you get to meet people from all over the country – an opportunity you might not regularly get through your local branch meetings. This was the most commonly stated benefit of attending Congress by delegates. As we all know, having a diverse network in the industry is critical for future success and can open up many career opportunities.
The topics discussed at Congress provide an excellent snapshot of current and future issues for the organisation and the wider industry. Being aware of these issues is useful for knowing what to focus on in terms of professional development and how to make the most of industry trends. This can set you apart from your peers, who may not have had exposure to these ideas, and the people best suited to addressing them. Practical solutions proposed at Congress can be taken back to your workplace and applied. For students, awareness of these industry trends can be demonstrated in your CV and cover letter, and during interviews when applying for jobs. One of the top three emerging issues raised by delegates was that of the reduction in tertiary enrolments in mining-related disciplines due to the downturn. A student applying for vacation or graduate work can explicitly state to the company that securing their talent now will be of mutual benefit as market conditions improve.
Your say on the future
The event was introduced by the AusIMM President Colin Moorhead as a ‘listening’ Congress, and the proceedings certainly supported this notion. In each segment, there were opportunities for anyone to speak and have their say. For the more reserved of us, there were group brainstorming sessions where we could develop our ideas for presentation to the wider audience. As the future of the organisation, the views of the students and new professionals were valued as equally as the old guard. The voices of the students and new professionals need to be heard, as the decisions being made now will impact us in the future. For example, there was a great deal of discussion on professional development content delivery methods, particularly a move towards webinars, that could be delivered through a purpose-built app. This would be a great way for all members, including new professionals and students, to access quality technical and non-technical information.
To get to Congress, you need to be part of a student chapter, local branch, or community of interest, so get involved now so you can make it to next year’s event. I hope to see you there!