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Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Innovation Leadership Panel
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Austmine Newcastle Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Innovation Leadership Panel

The Austmine Mining Innovation Roadshow took place on 16th March 2018 in Newcastle. The event featured some great speakers from companies such as Vale Indonesia, Glencore, Bengalla Mining Company and First Quantum Minerals.

To wrap up the event we hosted a panel session. This featured Febriany Eddy, Director and CFO, Vale Indonesia; Cam Halfpenny, CEO, Bengalla Mining Company; Alan Broadfoot, Director, NIER and Belinda Grealy, Area Business Manager Australia and New Zealand, Orica; who shared their thoughts on Leadership in Mining Innovation.

The session began with insight from our panelists on how we foster innovation in people. Cam Halfpenny welcomed the question and shared his belief that high standards need to be set within the company and the industry. He posed two questions to the audience “what are the world's leaders doing? What does the world’s best look like?” He stated that this is the standard that needs to be set for the right outcome to be achieved.

Febriany Eddy pressed the idea that organisations must have a common goal and understanding. She knows too well the difficulties faced when talking about innovation, giving examples from Vale about balance when it requires cutting costs. She has found that when a common goal is created the outcome becomes more effective.

Belinda Grealy utilises setting aspirational targets for her team on how to best deliver value to customers. Belinda outlined that it is important to be very clear around what the business wants to achieve and how that can be underpinned with the company’s values. A key takeaway from her response was that she believes in accepting failure and finding the best way to overcome this in the future. The most efficient way to achieve this is to look outside the company for ways in which we can direct less and coach more, so we can impact the team environment daily.

The discussion then shifted towards how to translate and invest your knowledge to become a leader. Alan Broadfoot raised the point that knowledge is your biggest competitive advantage and that you need the ability to have tolerance for your team and be aware that sometimes you need to fail to be successful.

Following on from these insightful responses, a question was posed on how to put innovation at the core of any management strategy.

The perception on this question from both Cam and Alan was that people need to be aware that innovation is not a pastime – it is key to the organisation. Innovation needs to be used to keep the company from becoming isolated and connections need to be made with the supply chain and partners for the business to grow. Leadership was stated to be a key pillar in this as people must understand where they and the organisation are heading.

Febriany noted that a lot of time is spent on planning, but problems arise when translating the plan into action isn’t done effectively. The focus needs to be on creating framework for execution, getting input and collaboration from within and then creating a team of excellence.

Belinda challenged the audience with another question – what is the strategy for differentiating ourselves? We need to be upskilling people to listen to customers and unlocking those pain points. With this in mind, we can reduce the cost to serve and create productivity and safety benefits for the customer.

Motivation is often easier to drive when organisations are performing well, but the panel then focused on creating motivation during difficult times. The key message they communicated was that people need to be aware of their environment; the best way to get motivated is to know what’s going on around you.  Cam brought in the idea that we may not be aware of what we can achieve until we achieve it. He gave an example of when he was challenged to find cost saving measures greater than $60m when working for Rio Tinto. This target was difficult but it provided an opportunity to change the culture and open up ideas and dialogue. This target was achieved, increased and then achieved again through motivation and determination.

Continuing, Belinda shared her insight on the pace of change in the workplace – how do we effectively manage and motivate people when this is happening? Her response to this was that ruthless prioritising needs to take place, and to find the early adopters in your organisation, foster them and then use them to bring the rest of the organisation through.

It was stated that knowledge acquisition is paramount to gaining an advantage, so where do we go to connect into the latest chat about technology? Febriany shared her experiences with Vale, asserting that we must always challenge the status quo. Vale initiates supply chain collaboration forums with the local METS sector which helps to set a benchmark to other industries. These forums provide a way to learn from other people and hence create further benchmarking studies.

An interesting insight regarding this is whether the same type of conversations around technology and innovation leadership are happening in Indonesia. According to Febriany this is not the case as the conversation is consumed with difficulties around regulations, permitting and political issues. 

This response from Febriany called for insight from our other international speaker, Ritesh Mishra, Optimisation Manager at First Quantum Minerals in Zambia. He detailed that there are similar constraints in Zambia around regulations.  He also noted that some issues are difficult to discuss such as automation due to the fear of workers being replaced. However, when commodity prices fall and cost pressures arise, new ideas and technologies such as automation are forced into action.

The panel then explored looking at the broader business world to understand the pace of change. Similar thoughts were shared by both Cam and Febriany. Through their experience they have found that benchmarking is critical in any organisation. Bengalla Mining benchmarks from a range of mining sources and other industries around the globe. In relation to this Febriany believes that that the business becomes more powerful if all elements within the organisation are moving in the same direction. 

The issue of measuring the success of innovation was then raised by the audience. Views shared by our panelists were that annual reviews, KPI’s, business models and carefully measuring internally and externally are all key pillars in driving success. The key take-away from the discussion was that mining is not going to stay strong forever and businesses need to look at the multi-sector application of their product. This needs to be done now while cash flow is improving.

We finished off the event with the panelists sharing with us their own personal insight on their key to success as a leader:

  • Support your people, if you lead they will follow.
  • Don’t be afraid to succeed – it takes a lot of time and effort to make things work and you must be willing to work for it.
  • Drive change through making a team, you need to act as you want others to.
  • Be conscious around your own capacity to drive change – there is a life outside of work.

We would like to thank our panelists for giving up their time to share their insights. The next Austmine Mining Innovation Roadshow takes place in Perth on 13th September 2018, we look forward to seeing you there!

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