Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cornwall in the SW of England. For 14 years I worked as a beach lifeguard in the UK, South Africa and Australia. Prior to moving to Australia in 2015 I was the head coach of a successful Surf Life Saving club for over 10 years.
How did you get to your current position? For how long have you had it?
I applied for a vacation placement position with Mount Isa Mines. After completing 3 months with the Mining Engineering team at Mount Isa Mines I was offered a position as a Graduate Geotechnical Engineer with Ernest Henry Mining. I have now been at Ernest Henry for 15 months working on an 8:6 FIFO roster.
What does your employer do?
Glencore is one of the world’s largest globally diversified natural resource companies and a major producer and marketer of more than 90 commodities.
What are your areas of responsibility?
Generally I am responsible for overseeing the correct design and installation of ground support throughout new and existing areas of the mine. Overall as a team we are responsible maintaining stability off all excavations as well as minimizing all risks associated with ground control.
Can you describe a typical work day?
A typical work day for myself involves a mixture of underground inspections and design work. Every day in the life of a Geotech is different, we cover a huge range of areas underground and on surface. Daily tasks can range from development inspections, installing instrumentation to incident investigation.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills it would beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
Studying Geotechnical Engineering, Mining Engineering or Mining Geology will provide a solid pathway into Geotechnical Engineering.
Obtaining a wide range of vacation placements/work experience during or before studies throughout varying operations will provide you with a fantastic base knowledge of different ground conditions and mining methods. These experiences all help develop a well-rounded engineer, and more importantly help you decide if this is the industry for you.
Open personalities and great communication skills are extremely important in the mining industry, the mining industry employs such a diverse range of people that it’s essential to build upon these skills for effective communication to people from all walks of life.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
To succeed in geotechnical engineering you need to be highly motivated and ready for anything. Thinking on your feet and open to change also helps.
What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?
I love how every day is different in my role. I really enjoy the seismic analysis aspect of my job, responding to events and developing rehabilitation plans can be very challenging but also very rewarding.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Is your job physically demanding?
I feel my job has no limitations, working for such a large company offers every chance to succeed and develop.
As a geotechnical engineer we carry a lot of responsibility in regards to safety. It is everybody’s responsibility to look out for each other. As a team, risks to health and safety are constantly managed and improved.
Working on an 8:6 roster I am away from home every other weekend. We work 12 hour days plus additional hours if required. This is made up for by 6 days off with friends and family, which is great. I always come back to work feeling refreshed.
My job can be physically demanding at times. Just working in the underground environment can be demanding on the body, it is important to listen to your body and rest when needed.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
I feel if I hadn’t decided to enter the mining industry I would still be lifeguarding the beaches. Lifeguarding is an extremely rewarding job and I find the mining industry to be just as rewarding.
I am very happy with my career choice.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?