4 families share the flexible work options they need (and where they get them)

December 6, 2022
Flexible working

When it comes to work-life balance, flexibility is a key factor. 

When it comes to feeling supported mentally, and physically, flexibility is a key factor.

And when it comes to being able to bring your best (and whole) self to work yup, you guessed it flexibility is a key factor here too. 

But when it comes to flexible working, everyone’s needs are different. That’s why it’s been important to AngloGold Ashanti Australia (AGAA) to encourage conversations about what their people need for them to thrive and say they are open to flexible work requests from anyone across the business. 

“We are on a journey with regards to flexible work. Taking learnings from the pandemic, we are focused on innovative thinking in terms of role design, with our business commitment being to make more roles, more accessible, to more people. Providing flexibility makes good business sense, as helps us attract and retain a diverse pool of talent and bright minds.”

– Nicola Thomson (she/her), Vice President People and Capability

At AGAA, their flexible work arrangements are tailored to suit the individual. Everyone has a set of unique circumstances that change over the course of their lifetime, so they know they need to engage in regular conversations about what flexibility looks like for them at any point in time. 

We spoke to four employees about how these tailored flexible work options are helping them thrive both personally and professionally.

The special needs of two employees and their two kids 

  • Shane Scobie, Planner: Maintenance, Tropicana Gold Mine
  • Vicky Scobie, Specialist: Commercial Energy Management

Flexible working

For Vicky and Shane Scobie, the flexible working arrangement with AGAA is imperative when it comes to taking care of their two young daughters, especially their eldest, Zara who has special needs and is autistic.

Vicky’s working week consists of two days in the office and two days working from home based on school hours. On Monday and Friday, you will find Vicky in the Perth office, while on Tuesday and Thursday her workday is scheduled around school hours to accommodate Zara (5) and Imogen (2).

This arrangement has been in place for Vicky since 2020 when she returned to work on a part-time basis before gradually increasing her hours in 2021 and 2022.

“It is not easy, but it means we can keep working and get the balance right,” she said.

Shane works a FIFO (four days on / three days off) roster at the Tropicana Gold Mine and works from home on Monday to accommodate school pick-up and drop-off while Vicky works from the office.

“We’ve received incredible support from AngloGold Ashanti since embarking on the journey of having a family,” Shane said.

“Flexible working arrangements enable both Vicky and I to keep working, which would otherwise be impossible as we’re a FIFO family with a very limited family support network in Perth. Working for the same company has given us the flexibility to be able to share the daily load of work and family life. This has only been made possible due to the cooperation, understanding, and trust from both the AGAA site and Perth management teams. 

“Vicky is very passionate and driven at work and home, and her role has become increasingly complex in both areas over the last few years. Trying to find a sustainable balance has not been easy. Having a special needs child only adds to the pressure which, at times, can become stressful and overwhelming for both of us. I don’t believe we would be able to cope as well as we do without the assistance from the site. It shows we’re really moving with the times and finding ways to support women returning to work while raising a young family.”

Flexibility that spans two continents

  • Adele Gardiner, Senior Specialist Mining: BI and Commercial
  • Ryan Ecclestone, Senior Manager of Strategic Mine Planning Ghana and Tanzania

Adele has been with AGAA for 12 years, starting out as a vacation student and then a graduate before working FIFO at Sunrise Dam for seven years, Geita in Tanzania for two years, and Tropicana Gold Mine for the past three years. Adele was also a participant in the company’s Chairman Young Leaders Program in 2015. 

Ryan has also worked for AGAA for 12 years, beginning at Sunrise Dam before making the move to Geita Gold Mine as Technical Services Manager, and now with the Ghana and Tanzania Business Unit.

Both Adele and her partner Ryan work from their home base in Bunbury. Adele currently works on a part-time basis two days one week and three days the alternate week with the occasional trip to site. Ryan’s role is based on work in Tanzania and Ghana and his working arrangement has enabled him to work from home taking into consideration the time zone difference with Africa and undertake four one-month-long trips a year to Ghana and Tanzania. 

Their current flexible working arrangements allow them to spend more time at home so they can look after their two young daughters – Zara (2) and Abby (15 months). In November, Adele will once again be on parental leave as she is expecting the couple’s third child (this time a boy).

“The flexibility allows us to live where we would like to in Australia with family support, care for our young family without the need for daycare, all the while still enjoying the challenging work the gold mining industry offers us both.”

AGAA offers different flexible working arrangements from part time to job sharing. 

Find out more.

Finding flexibility with a newborn

  • Kayla Gosche, Geotechnical Data Engineer

Kayla started working with AGAA as a graduate in 2013 working at both Sunrise Dam and Tropicana and internationally in South Africa and Tanzania as a participant in the company’s Chairman’s Young Leaders Program in 2016.

Her current role is with the corporate head office’s Geotechnical Unit as a Geotechnical Data Engineer. Kayla has two daughters, Katrin (4) and Thea (9 months).

After having Katrin, work flexibility enabled Kayla to work two days a week in Perth before slowly building up to four days and then full-time. Now recently returning to work after having Thea, the flexibility to work from home has enabled Kayla to return to work full-time.

“If I didn’t have the flexibility, it would have been very difficult,” she said.

Her husband is also currently on parental leave as the primary carer which has also been a big help to Kayla.

“I was able to return to work a bit earlier to line up with my husband’s parental leave. I don’t think I would have been willing to do that if AGAA wasn’t as flexible as it was. I have a lot of meetings in the evenings, so I can schedule those around when the children are asleep, and I have the flexibility to be with the girls in the afternoon.”

The original trailblazer

  • Nicola Thomson – Vice President People and Capability

Nicola AGAA

Nicola has been somewhat of a trailblazer at AGAA when it comes to flexible working hours, being one of the first in the company to do so.

With the full support of her former manager, Andrea Maxey, to work part-time with Wednesdays working from home back when she was Manager: Organizational Capability, she has been able to carry this through to her current full-time executive role with Wednesdays and Fridays her scheduled working from home days.

“It is important to me to be able to be there for my two daughters (Alyssa and Ellyse) for some of the school pick-ups and drop offs. I like being part of, and feeling connected to, the school community.

“Having that flexibility to support my girls at their dance concerts, sports carnivals, and to attend school assemblies when they are presenting or winning awards is very important to me. Andrea, and now my current manager Mike Erickson, have always been supportive of that.”

“When Mike and I discussed me to taking on the VP role I was very aware that being a mother meant I was different to anyone he has had in that executive role previously. Feeling safe and supported by AngloGold Ashanti to work flexibly was a key decision-making factor in making the change to the new role.”

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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