Many myths, fables and stories use the unyielding and abrasive nature of rocks to symbolize the obstacles a character must overcome to complete their quest. Ironically for Sarah, it has been her work as a Geologist with Gold Fields that has offered the flexibility she needed during her life.
As a mother who has suffered the anguish of seeing her children through multiple hospitalizations, her story has been ‘rockier’ than most. But whether it’s been the support through these extenuating situations, or the everyday support and career progression of a 17-year career, Sarah’s story proves that a supportive culture can be all the magic that you need.
“For me, it’s not about how my role is changing the world, it’s how Gold Fields has changed MY world, by being a flexible employer, and understanding that work-life balance is important.”
Career development support
It all started for Sarah way back in 2001, where she started with Gold Fields as a graduate. Since then, Sarah grown her career with Gold Fields, across two stints between 2001 to 2012 and 2016 to now.
“During my time at Gold Fields I’ve had the opportunity to move between different operations, which has greatly helped my professional development.”
She started as a Graduate Exploration Geologist and finished her first stint at Gold Fields as a Project Geologist. After a four-year break to be with her family, she returned to Gold Fields as an Open Pit Project Geologist.
“The fact that I chose to return to Gold Fields, after having previously worked for them shows that I think they are a great company to work for.”
Since returning, Sarah has progressed to the Senior Geologist position she has today. It’s a career of enviable variety that has allowed Sarah to develop new skills each time she’s moved between deposits.
“At one mine site alone, St. Ives, I worked in a total of three underground mines, and over ten different open pits. I have also had the unique experience of being the Senior Geologist working on an open pit for two to three years, before then moving to working on this same deposit as the Senior Underground Geologist.”
As a Senior Geologist, Sarah now spends her professional life happily managing a team of underground geologists, and ensuring that they deliver high quality information, to the production and planning teams.
A supportive employer in a crisis
But life for Sarah hasn’t always been a smooth track to the top. Her journey has seen diversions through the general pauses that come from growing a family, as well as a few of the less expected ones, like emergency hospital trips – more on those soon.
During the four-year break from Gold Fields, Sarah says she worked some short-term contract roles, but mostly spent the time at home with her children. And while returning to the support and amazing culture at Gold Fields was a no-brainer decision for Sarah, she admits it wasn’t always easy.
“During the time I was away I got divorced, and my ex-husband relocated to Perth. This meant that I was a full-time single parent balancing work and family. But, when I returned to Gold Fields full-time I was offered flexible options, and the geology team I was working with was very understanding.
“I was always able to work around commitments to my children, and always felt supported.”
The company’s flexibility and integrity kicked in again 2022, when Sarah’s family suffered two devastating blows.
“During 2022 one of my sons was in a serious car accident, and my other son was diagnosed with a heart tumor and needed open heart surgery in Melbourne.”
Sarah explained that Gold Fields allowed her to take the time she needed to tend to her two boys as they recovered from these two separate tragedies
“Within a 10-month period, our family had had three trips with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and three stays at Ronald McDonald care houses across two different states. I spent three, one-week periods at Perth Children’s Hospital in Perth, and then four weeks at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne.”
She says she is grateful that during all these periods she was given the flexibility to work when she was able.
“This was incredible,” she recalls. “It meant that if my son needed me to be with him through testing during the day, I could, and I could work at 9 pm when he was asleep if that was what worked that day.”
Sarah also found support from the Goldfields Children’s Charity (GCC), run by a group of local volunteers. In 2023, Sarah was invited to address an annual charity ball run by the GCC that was raising funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Ronald McDonald House in Perth. In her address, she shared her experiences:
“The Goldfields Children’s Charity helped us out, by flying Greg [the children’s co-parent] to Melbourne to be with us during the surgery, as well as putting us up in a beautiful apartment for a few days.
“This allowed us some valuable time out to try and forget about the upcoming surgery, and to relax.”
Thankfully, both Sarah’s boys are currently doing well.
Legendary levels of support
Just like Arthur, who pulled the sword from the stone, Sarah and her family have emerged victorious, proving that with the right culture and employer support, even the most challenging obstacles can be transformed into stepping stones towards a brighter future.