How IGO has sponsored, supported, and seen to the success of this geology graduate

April 3, 2024
graduate careers

When Kate Woodall first traveled to Australia’s harsh north-west, she couldn’t have known she was about to discover something amazing.

It wasn’t something in the earth so much as something within herself: this was the moment she knew she was a geologist. That she was able to reach this lightbulb moment says a lot about her and also about the company that has supported her all the way.

IGO sponsored Kate’s studies and provided a flexible work environment for her to complete her undergraduate qualifications.

“I had already been at the company for two years, having started there as a vacation student while I was studying for my undergrad degree. Then when I started the next semester, I went part-time at IGO during the study period. When I finished my honours, I transitioned into the graduate program, which I’m halfway through now. “

Course changes lead to the graduate career path

Kate admits it took a minute to find her real passion. 

“I very much stumbled into geology. I Initially started in a humanities major, but I didn’t like it and kept changing my focus. 

“Finally, I tried a first-year geology unit as an elective and it just clicked. Having found my way, I went from ‘struggling’ to ‘motivated’ and was excited to learn more.”

As she shifted into her post-grad studies, Kate developed a keen interest in exploration, particularly for copper. Now, a quick climate change lesson: copper is known as an efficient conductor of energy and is essential in the transition and maintenance of electrification. 

“It’s the best material for transporting electricity. We know of no better alternative,” says Kate.

“It is highly sought after as part of the transition to renewable energy. We are going to need a lot of copper.”

As such, Kate’s hard-won passion and IGO’s strategic aims merged beautifully and became a catalyst – another of copper’s qualities by the way – for a burgeoning success story.   

“I had been working with an IGO exploration team on drillcore from the Paterson Orogen, located east of the Pilbara. The team I was part of was interested in how known mineralization in the area formed and the implications of that formation for future deposits.”

One particular zinc deposit, Dromedary, was interspersed with precious copper. A formation that provided a fascinating challenge for Kate, one she was eager to explore as the basis of her thesis. 

“I wanted to be pushed. Geology is often about the story, and the story of how this complicated deposit could have formed was something I was excited to tackle.” 

Career support and development for graduates

Kate may have had to try out a few directions before finding her way. But once Kate had decided on her thesis, IGO was fully on board. 

IGO covered the cost of my thesis, which included expenses associated with doing experiments and analysis on samples.” 

Working with IGO not only gave her the experience of seeing the practical application of her thesis but also all the technical support she could need and the flexibility to balance her studies with her role in the company.  

And this serendipitous relationship yielded excellent results for both Kate and for IGO. Whilst working at IGO, Kate finished as the top geology student overall in her honors year and won the Dean of Science Award at Curtin University Science and Engineering Student Excellence Awards. 

As one of our leading Australian employers for diversity, is IGO a workplace that could work for you? 

See the rankings for yourself. 

With her studies now completed, Kate is looking to publish her paper and dig deeper into her career. 

“I completed my studies at the end of 2022. Finished!” she says with a smile.

“I have been mulling for a while about publishing my thesis. I took a break from it all for six months after it was presented. Then I decided to add more data. I have that data now, and just adding that in and getting it into shape for journal publication.”

A career set in stone – life after the Graduate program

Now three years into her IGO journey, Kate can reflect on just how on-point her feelings about the company were early on.

“Before I started at IGO, I knew a friend working there, then as a graduate, who always had good things to say. So, I was already interested in the company and what I was reading about their work and culture sounded good to me. 

“Once I got here there were little moments with the way people interacted, or the work they were doing, that just solidified how glad I felt to be here.”

It’s been onwards and upwards for Kate even since.

“One of the really cool things about where I am now is the team and management have a great emphasis on technical growth.”

And Kate sees a future in which she will keep digging literally and metaphorically into a bright career future.  

“Actually, finishing uni is just the beginning. Working at IGO, I’ve benefited from a heap of really cool consultants and university associations and agencies providing in-house mentorship and technical development courses. There’s really a lot to learn. 

“And IGO encourages teams to run workshops and share learnings, which I love.”

The upside of all these learning opportunities is career development and a range of choices that Kate can make from the comfort of a secure job and her employer’s support. 

One choice is easy for Kate.graduate careers

“I definitely want to stay with IGO, as I can see myself growing and learning here. 

“It’s so important to find a company where you can be yourself, and I feel that’s true at IGO. For instance, I was nervous to be ‘out’ at work at first. But I’ve never had a problem or issue, I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable or that I’d need to disguise my gender in work conversations. I’ve had no negative experiences.”

“I feel lucky to be in such a supportive environment.”

Applications for IGO’s Vacation Program are now open, and close on 12 April

Visit their employer profile to view the opportunities. 

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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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