You might think being a single mother would hold your career back in a non-traditional industry such as mining. But you’d think wrong!
Kate Bills is the General Manager – Sustainability, Marketing, and Communications for Sandvik. In her 12 years with the company, she’s taken advantage of parental leave, flexible work, and had some fantastic career opportunities. She’s now in a senior leadership position and is showing no signs of stopping.
All mining companies aren’t created equal
Sandvik’s inclusive culture, career progression opportunities, and commitment to flexible working are some of the reasons it’s a such great place to work. They also actively recruit from outside the industry, and value transferrable skills, all to work towards building a diverse team.
Kate joined Sandvik after a number of years working in the United Kingdom, and said the impression the company left after just her first interview made her confident she had made the right decision to join them.
“I still recall how nervous I was turning up to the interview, knowing I knew nothing about the mining and construction industry, let alone the equipment, parts, service, and digital solutions that an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) such as Sandvik create to support these industries. Luckily those that interviewed me made me feel 100% comfortable and excited about a future with Sandvik.”
The organization sets themselves apart through their culture and the opportunities they provide. With approximately 44,000 employees and sales in about 150 countries – there are myriad options to grown and learn, both in Australia and internationally. Kate herself has spent time in Sweden, Japan, Korea, India, The Netherlands, and numerous places across Australia.
“As a self-proclaimed travel addict, I’ve been so grateful for those experiences: they’ve allowed me to not only grow professionally, but personally also.”
There are plenty of opportunities to grow
“Sandvik is committed to developing its people and the opportunities for learning and development are endless. Over the years, I’ve completed all sorts of programs to further my own knowledge and competency and I’ve had some great mentors along the way.”
Kate recently completed the University of Cambridge’s Circular Economy and Sustainability Strategies Certificate, and this year she’s participating in the Sandvik Leadership Program (SLP) with other leaders from around the world.
“It’s not always an easy feat to take on additional studies when you’re a single mother of little ones, coordinating shared care, working full-time etc – but when it’s something you love, it makes it that much more enjoyable.”
Through the leadership course, she is focusing on the five capabilities of a Sandvik leader:
- Driving the Sandvik culture,
- Delivering results,
- Leading change,
- Empowering people and
- Demonstrating self-awareness.
“I recently just returned from the face-to-face module of the program which was held in Netherlands, and I can honestly say I loved every second of it, especially the genuine connections I made with other leaders from across Sandvik.”
Kate’s incredible leaders throughout her time at Sandvik have supported her and pushed her to develop, grow and progress her career.
“At times, these leaders have pushed me outside my comfort zone and for that I’ll be forever grateful. It’s in those moment I’ve grown and my confidence has developed.”
Kids and leaderships roles don’t have to be either or scenarios
In many companies, there’s a dearth of mothers in senior leadership, but Kate bucks the trend! She’s taken parental leave twice in her time there and now, outside work, her favorite thing to do is spend time with her two “adventure buddies”.
“They certainly make me laugh, keep me busy and challenge me daily.”
Sandvik know that people develop new transferrable skills on parental leave, and high performers before children will be high performers post-children, so they have a focus on retention after parental leave. When Kate was on parental leave with her oldest daughter, Lottie (aged 6), she experienced that firsthand.
“My leader at the time reached out to me in relation to our global annual marketing conference, which was being held in Sweden, to see if I would still like to attend despite being on leave. She was clear that there was no pressure to attend but wanted to make sure I felt included and had the opportunity to continue to develop. I jumped at the opportunity and re-connected with marketing colleagues from all over the world – and I was so happy I did, despite missing the little one like crazy! Looking back, it was a very powerful retention strategy.”
That approach to its people goes beyond welcoming parents back after they take leave, and Sandvik have built a strong, capable team. Kate feels that every day working with her team.
“The thing I love most about my role is leading such a talented and diverse team, where I see each one of them add value to our organization every single day. They are such a wonderful group of people, who are all committed to delivering results and developing innovative ideas, with a brilliant amount of energy and laughter along the way. To see them grow, develop and step outside of their comfort zone to challenge themselves is so rewarding!”
Did you know Sandvik offers 12 weeks paid parental leave at full salary for primary carers in addition to government-funded parental leave?
Find out more about this and other benefits.
Sandvik are leaders in the field of sustainability and inclusion
Sandvik’s approach to diversity and inclusion goes beyond gender, and Kate is proud of the work with their Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). She has a true passion for Sandvik’s commitment to reconciliation.
Additionally, Sandvik are leaders in sustainability.
“Sandvik is committed to using engineering and innovation to make the shift to a more sustainable world. Sustainability is now part of everything we do – creating value for all our stakeholders: customers, employees, shareholders as well as society.”
“In Australia & New Zealand, we want to be leaders in the field of sustainability, diversity, and inclusion. We have a range of initiatives taking place locally in the areas of climate change (net zero 2050), circularity, championing people, and fair play.”
“Just a few examples include, our battery electric equipment range, which is game-changing for the mining industry, the work we’re doing with community engagement in regional areas, our commitment to First Nations through our Innovate RAP, and the work we’re doing with Autism Queensland to enhance neurodiversity at Sandvik.”
So, should you join mining and Sandvik?
Kate’s answer here was short and sweet:
“Just take the leap, there’s plenty of opportunities. You certainly won’t regret the move.”