Leidy Alvarado is a world champion in-line speed skater who always gives her all to her sport and her life. For work, she is currently a Senior Project Engineer – West Musgrave for OZ Minerals, and although she says her career path has presented her with multiple choices, it is her growth mindset, passion, willingness to challenge herself and commitment to excellence that led her to a career she truly loves.
A diverse career in mining
Leidy started with OZ Minerals as a Project Engineer. Her development plan was to enable her to get more on-site experience in the mine – not only planning but also driving trucks, drilling, and blasting, commercial and contracts.
In her first year at OZ Minerals, Leidy worked at one of their South Australian mines and won the annual Most Improved Employee award.
“It was my first job in Australia in mining, so I was scared and had some fears, thinking, ‘How can I do this?’. But I took up the challenge to conquer those fears.”
The award felt to Leidy like a nice recognition of all her work. She really set her mind to achieving excellence but is quick to point out it was not always easy – there were setbacks along the way that offered her some lessons to grow.
After she had a child (supported through a year of parental leave by OZ Minerals), she no longer wanted to work FIFO with a one-year-old baby. OZ Minerals identified that Leidy had skills that could apply more broadly, so they offered her an Organizational Effectiveness role in the Corporate Office in 2016.
“I knew who I would be working with; she was an inspirational leader for me. I was mindful of the career choice and its potential opportunities and threats and again thought, ‘why not explore it? Why not to learn more about mining from a different perspective?’ So I made the choice to move to Adelaide and experiment with a different career path within Mining.”
That move worked out incredibly well for Leidy, and in 2018 she was awarded the Executive Advantage Program Scholarship by Women Leadership Australia.
“It was a very valuable program. Leidy found the executive coaching incredibly helpful in her transition to adapting her career to life with her son.
Some tips that she has learned from her diverse career pathway are:
- Be flexible & adapt quickly. “It is important to have a plan, define what success means to you and what the path to get there could be. But always keep an open mind, be curious and flexible if the path you planned for yourself changes. It could be something better and brighter than you even considered.”
- Be brave & create your own opportunity. “Be brave enough to experiment, to fail and learn fast. My major milestones of growth – professionally and personally – have come from setbacks and failures. Be courageous, and do not let fear stop you from taking action. Own your development and say “yes” to that role you’ve never done before.”
- Be confident. “Sometimes as women, we think we must know it all and tick all the boxes on a job application, or we will not take the risk and apply. Believe in the value you bring, your potential and your ability to learn quickly.”
- Be curious and ask more questions? “Often between our deep attachment to an answer — any answer — and our anxiety about not knowing, we stop our capacity for deep creativity and fresh perspectives. Be curious and ask more questions. Asking questions is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value in organizations – it spurs learning and the exchange of ideas, it fuels innovation, and it builds rapport and trust among team members.”
An Exceptional Leadership Program
Leidy designed and delivered OZ Minerals’ 12-month Exceptional Leadership Program partnered with an external provider. The program aimed to help senior managers be better leaders in the business and in the community. The program is designed to help them thrive not just survive in an ever-changing, complex world.
COVID hit just as OZ Minerals was launching the program in early 2020, and it was rapidly transitioned to an online format, so over 50 people across Australia and Brazil could be connected.
“It’s so important for the business to invest in our leaders. Given that we’re in a world which is more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Leaders need the skills and tool to manage this better. The great thing is that these learnings can be applied in their professional and personal lives, as it’s about being equipped with the right mindset and perspective as things evolve, change and get more complex.”
Leidy is justifiably proud of the response – 70% of participants said they feel like they’ve become better leaders because of the program.
Getting unstuck from mind-traps
Leidy talked about mind-traps – when people get stuck in a pattern of thinking and react automatically to scenarios. Technical professionals often look to achieve the “right answer”. However, innovation and collaboration come with uncertainty and require openness to new ideas and a spirit of non-judgment. Leidy has seen the training enable senior leaders to create more value for OZ Minerals’ five stakeholder pillars, accept different perspectives and know that it’s ok to not always have the answer.
People reporting to the leaders in the program have shared that they can see changes in leadership styles.
“They are stopping, going to the balcony [high level view of a situation] and reflecting. Instead of just reacting, they’re observing, interpreting the information and then acting.”
Leidy loves that the impact of her work also extends to people’s personal lives and relationships for some.
Women in mining at OZ Minerals
OZ Minerals has a lot of focus on Inclusion and Diversity, and is always looking for opportunities to attract, retain and advance women. Their strong leadership team really walks the talk, are inclusive, and places value in trust and psychological safety. People are encouraged to speak up, challenge leadership, and have frank conversations. Leidy also loves the flexibility she has at OZ Minerals.
“If I got the same monetary offer somewhere else, I wouldn’t go. At OZ Minerals, I can work wherever, whenever, and I have autonomy and flexibility. The company is very supportive of flexible working for everyone. Especially post-COVID, we see that work and life are not separate, we need to integrate both. Now, I go into the office when it’s needed for collaboration, but other than that, I’m free to work anywhere that suits me.”
Leidy can work around her son’s school schedule and is focused on delivery and connection above face-time. Even pre-COVID, OZ Minerals fully supported flexible work options. In 2018, Leidy spent two months in her home country of Colombia working remotely and spending time with her family.
Now, she’s excited about the development and growth she will get at OZ Minerals in West Musgrave Project, and her persistence will make sure every chance is greeted as an opportunity.