If someone told you they worked in the mining industry, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s strong pay or onsite work. Or perhaps that it’s a male-dominated industry and there’s reduced work variety.
Let’s see if some of these stereotypes match up to reality.
Clair Brennan has worked in the mining industry for nearly two decades. She’s Manager, Services Contracts, and has been with AngloGold Ashanti Australia (AGAA) for an incredible 17 years!
In her role, she’s responsible for developing and delivering the company’s contract and procurement strategy for the Australian region, to achieve its broader business strategy.
“My role and that of my team,” said Clair, “Requires collaboration with cross-functional teams and a wide range of stakeholders. With two mine sites in Australia and exploration programs, you need to have the ability to work constructively within a team and to facilitate dynamic decision making. We’re always working with the teams to identify opportunities in a busy working environment with competing priorities.”
Clair shares some facts about her role that might surprise you about what a job in the mining industry can look like.
1. There are plenty of career progression opportunities
Okay, this first one may not come as such a surprise to some. But it’s worth sharing.
Clair first joined AGAA in 2005 for two weeks of work experience, working as a technician to complete her mining certification. This involved working in the core shed and pit. She was then offered a full-time position in the geology technician team.
“I liked the role, found it interesting, and got to work with some great people. I learned so much about the mining process and what it takes to get gold out of the ground. I progressed to a senior role.”
After a few years in this role, Clair left for a short period and returned to AGAA as an entry-level Assistant Contracts Officer.
“I was intrigued by the work and keen to learn. The rest is history, I’ve been here ever since! A year later, I moved into a Contracts Officer role, which saw me transition from being a site-based worker to joining the regional contracts team in our Perth office.
As Clair shares, it was a fortuitous move, as this new team granted her exposure to construction and operations.
“We were a small team, so it meant there was a lot of diversity in the role, and I learned a lot. My career development was complimented by my external studies too. I’ve felt so supported in my progression by receiving exposure to so many development opportunities and mentoring.”
Interestingly, a key component of Clair’s development is thanks to working with some very talented lawyers.
“Being in contact with women who are so brilliant and competent has challenged me to do better, and I’ve learned a lot. Additionally, I’ve been supported through a promotion since the birth of my kids.” (More on this soon!)
This management promotion has been one of the most exciting work moments for her to date. She believes working onsite gave her a holistic view of mine life and laid a solid foundation for her to succeed in her current role.
“Had you told 24-year-old me when I started as a pit technician that I’d one day work in this commercial role, I wouldn’t have believed it. In addition to learning on the job, I’ve been fortunate to have extraordinary mentors and managers. Their feedback and development has, and continues to be, pivotal to my ongoing development.”
2. There’s flexibility for working parents
It might be fair to say mining may not be the first industry that comes to mind when thinking about flexibility for working parents. But AGAA is leading the way.
Clair had her first child in 2015 and took nine months of parental leave, returning to complete a rapid sourcing project.
“Following the success of the project, I was promoted to a category specialist role with a focus on geology contracts. With my background from the site, this was a natural fit and something I really enjoyed. It was a new area of work for AGAA, so I was excited to lead in this area.”
Two years later, Clair fell pregnant again and applied for the Manager, Services Contracts role.
“Being pregnant, I wasn’t sure whether I should apply, as I wanted to have twelve months of parental leave. I’m so glad I did though – my pregnancy and the need to temporarily fill the role during my leave was never an issue.”
The good thing was, that she felt supported throughout the process by her manager and the senior leadership team.
“While I was on parental leave, I also completed a post-graduate certification in procurement to further my development. I was also updated regularly by my manager, which allowed me to still feel connected.”
“Receiving this promotion felt amazing and overwhelming. It was the best decision I could have made, I’m so glad I decided to put myself forward for it.”
Clair returned to work full time after her second child and was able to receive flexibility to work from home. This was crucial to helping her navigate having her children at daycare and manage her work.
“Being able to work from home allows me to focus on delivering the outcomes for the business, but also making sure my kids have what they need. Having children or being pregnant hasn’t impacted my development. Flexible work and planning for parental leave were considered a normal business. This support means you’re able to do your best work and care for your family. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.”
AngloGold Ashanti Australia is open to many types of flexible working arrangements, and welcome discussing what will work for you as early as the interview stage.
Find out more about this and other benefits.
3. Mining isn’t just site-based work!
As Clair has shared, working in mining doesn’t involve purely site-based work. She works from AGAA‘s Perth office, and from home.
“I occasionally travel to site, which provides a bit of a circuit breaker. I miss the red dirt and always get excited to visit! I feel invigorated seeing the team onsite and meeting with vendors in our local community. But working flexibly has provided me the ability to manage my time to suit where my life is at a given point in time, which has been crucial to staying sane with two little kids. I love doing the work and helping people achieve great outcomes.”
4. You can find workplaces with inclusive cultures
As Clair shares, AGAA is focused on providing an inclusive culture.
“Through the work of our diversity and inclusion committee, we’ve seen increased visibility of what it means to be inclusive, with education available to all employees. Everyone’s experience is so personal, and these conversations are critical to opening people’s minds and to increase awareness.”
5. People in mining value people and communities
One of the most damaging myths about working in mining is that it’s all about profits, with little care for the impacts on people or communities. This couldn’t be more wrong.
AGAA‘s genuine ethos is to make changes that have a positive impact on local communities.
“Our Communities team supports programs that make a real difference in people’s lives. We focus on purchasing from local services and suppliers. One of our values: dignity and respect, also resonates with me, as it aligns with my own. Seeing our team members live it on a regular basis is the cornerstone of a safe and happy working environment.”
In closing, Clair says: “Deciding where you’ll work and whether your new employer is aligned with your own values is crucial to a life well lived. We spend a significant portion of our life at work. I know I want to enjoy and find value in that time. In sharing my experience, I hope it can help others find what they are searching for. If you’re looking for an employer who will value you, look no further than AGAA!”