August 2018

Investing in new professionals for success

  • By Nima Sherpa, Superintendent Production, BHP; AusIMM New Professionals Network Committee

Thoughts on how we can prepare our new professionals to be leaders of tomorrow

I have been working in mining since I moved to Australia and have been acquainted with mining even before then through my alma mater, the Colorado School of Mines. I have been privileged in my opportunities since graduating by being involved in a wide variety of industries such as technology, start-ups, medicine, research and mining. Mining has always been perceived as a more traditional or conservative industry but, with a new workforce, globalisation and evolving expectations on social licence to operate, there is pressure for leading companies to modernise and re-strategise.

Building the right culture

The business environment and cultural landscape in an organisation are important to avoid ‘revolving door’ recruitment. Developing young professionals, and giving them opportunities to prove their leadership, are significant factors in retaining them.

Furthermore, there is still much more to be done in mining to improve diversity in culture, gender and perspective. To achieve success, companies must ask themselves some difficult questions. How do we nurture diversity and free thinking? It’s one thing to progress with quotas, but how does that influence culture? Are our leaders reflecting our values? Are we approaching diversity with sustainability in mind? How can we attract and retain the best people? What is the perception of mining to those outside of the industry, and how does this affect our internal workforce and our future workforce? There are still many questions ahead.

Mental health in the mining industry – a new professional perspective

The major reason I chose to run for the AusIMM New Professionals Network (NPN) committee was to focus on normalising the discussion on mental health and developing mindfulness. This year one of the key strategic initiatives of the NPN committee revolves around providing assistance on major issues that new professionals face. This initiative includes determining key issues, delivering quality and relevant educational material, and building and expanding our network to make sure we include a wider audience. The NPN goals align with my interest in improving mental health within mining through perception management, work life balance, mindfulness, social events and health projects. NPN’s aim, like mine, is to bring new professionals across the nation together to collaborate and gain a network of support and development.

Final thoughts

New professionals in the industry are certainly fortunate that we are at this moment in mining. There have been a combination of societal, environmental and technological changes that have been the catalyst we need to uplift and modernise the industry. There is no doubt, like all movements, the generations prior to us had the same feelings and hopes for change, and through their fight, a foundation for modern mining has been developed. Today’s new professionals come at a time of opportunity and cross industrial immersion; a time where diversity, health and safety and innovation are progressing in line with recent social reforms. This foundation has set the stage for us to continuously challenge and improve the industry. To do so, today’s new professionals must be enabled to be leaders, encouraged to be different and to have a positive impression so that we can continue to inspire the next generation to join this great industry.

Feature image: ESB Professional/

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