April 14, 2021

Taking leaps and bounds underground – South32

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Abby Moroney has been with South32 for almost two years. She’s only three years out of university and she’s already a Coordinator with a huge amount of experience under her (hi-vis Fluro) belt. Her rapid career progression is due to the combination of her hard work and ambition, and South32’s support in bringing out the best in their people.

Mining your career opportunities

Abby studied Mining Engineering at the University of Wollongong, joined a graduate program with a different mining company, and was offered a role at South32’s Illawarra Metallurgical Coal (IMC) operations. It was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up, so she moved across. Knowing she wanted to sit her Deputy ticket — a government recognized role that requires specific training and time underground to qualify, IMC sent her underground to the main coal production area – known as a Longwall, at Dendrobium mine.

When they reached the end of that Longwall she was moved into a Logistics Coordinator role for three months, managing all the equipment being sent to workshops for refurbishment. Keen to keep learning and being challenged, when the next Longwall was ready to be mined Abby moved into the Gas Drainage department to help undertake trials. That is a key safety role to ensure gas has been drained to safe mining levels.

Now she is the Installation Coordinator for future mining areas

“I’m working to get us ready for future mining areas. I’m the one that helps plan it and put it into focus underground.”

This is great experience for Abby, working across a number of disciplines and with a lot of experts in their field. She’s already had an extraordinary amount of experience in her young career, and puts a lot of it down to;

“The backing and encouragement from the team at South32 to strive for my goals and the commitment to help me in my career development to achieve these.”

Going for gold

Abby is part of the mine Rescue Brigade. She underwent the rigorous training and was the Vice-Captain of an almost-all-women team who competed in a regional competition in 2019. This is another example of South32 supporting her goals – there aren’t as many women on the rescue brigades, but Abby didn’t let that stop her.

Abby puts some of her success down to the support and encouragement she’s received from managers at IMC.

“Work-wise, I lucked out. I’ve had excellent managers who have seen what I’m capable of before I’ve even sought the opportunities. I didn’t think I was qualified for my current role, but they asked why I hadn’t applied yet and pushed me to apply.”

Her managers know that doing something is the best way to gain experience and expertise, so they have continually pushed Abby to keep striving and gain new knowledge. Her managers have confidence in her, and that, in turn, builds Abby’s self-confidence.


Abby has also just started a mentoring program. South32 identified high performers and matched them with mentors to help develop their skill set.

” Your mentor pushes you to believe that if you work hard, you might be in that position at some point in your career. I’ve got a really good mentor who’s identified some other statutory qualifications I can go for after I get my deputy tickets.”

The qualifications all require a level of experience to sit the tests. Her mentor garnered support from around the business to get Abby the experience she will need to qualify. She’s got a detailed career roadmap, and the internal support to achieve it.

Digging for gold

Abby has a career trajectory that reflects her hard work and ambition, as well as the support South32 gives their people to progress. We asked for her tips for early-career readers, and she said:

  • Keep learning. “Try and get as much experience as you can as early as you can. You’re always learning.” 
  • Build your Reputation. “Network like anything, because everyone knows everyone in the mining industry.” 
  • Work hard. “It’s all about your work ethic and how you carry yourself. It’s not about what you know when you start, but how quickly you learn. Everything is on the job training.” 
  • Take risks. “Go for the chance and take the risk for yourself; you never know until you try.” 
  • Find a good mentor. “The best thing for my career progression is having really good managers who have asked what I wanted and supported that.” 
  • Plan your career. “Have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to go. Do the research, don’t just wait for someone to tell you what to do.”

“I’m quite young and already have a good position. Some people I was at uni with are still in graduate programs. The experiences I’ve had have set me up to show I know what I’m doing, and that’s given me confidence. Now they seem to be thinking, ‘She’s dealt with everything we’ve thrown at her so far so let’s see what else she can take’!”

Underground Culture

Abby says it’s hard, messy work underground, but she loves it.

“There are a lot of opportunities here. You just need to go out there and ask for them. And you have to love getting dirty and wearing Fluro every day!”

The foundations of the culture at South32 are care, trust, togetherness and excellence. They’re deliberately focusing on culture and trying to shift the gender balance in a non-traditional industry.

There is an Integration and Diversity Council who are working on ways of hiring a more diverse workforce, beyond just gender.

“At the end of the day, if you want something you’ve got to ask for it. But South32 is great at recognizing the potential in people, and making sure they have the experience, opportunities and training to assist them progress.”

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About the Author
Samantha Sutherland is the Chief Storyteller at WORK180. She is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist with an analytical background, making her work evidence-based and data driven. Host of WORK180’s Equality Talks podcast and her own Women at Work, Samantha divides her time between interviewing amazing women for WORK180, mentoring and coaching women in, or aspiring to, leadership roles, and providing high-level advice on diversity practices to Australian corporations. You can learn more about the Samantha Sutherland consultancy at samanthasutherland.com.au.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.