International Women's Day 2020: Austmine's CEO, Chris Gibbs Stewart
Austmine’s CEO, Chris Gibbs Stewart, has been with the company for nearly a decade and has held the position of CEO for over 5 years. During this time, she has helped develop and shape Austmine to become the leading industry body for the Australian Mining Equipment, Technology and Services (METS) sector.
We sat down with Chris ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD) to gather some of her thoughts on the current challenges and opportunities for women in leadership and the METS sector.
Women Aiming for Leadership
All leaders impact their employees; good leaders create a deep and lasting impact by providing the leaders of tomorrow with the necessary tools and support needed.
“I’ve worked for a lot of good people who championed me through my career. I’m incredibly grateful for their support – for helping me advance and believe in my abilities,” says Chris.
External support can be a vital step for women in their journey to leadership positions.
“You need to have confidence in yourself that you can do it,” says Chris.
“Women sometimes lack confidence in their own ability. If you are one to doubt yourself, then I recommend extending yourself and going for it, as others will believe in your ability for you.”
Supporting others in their leadership journey is interconnected with the 2020 global International Women's Day theme of Generation Equality (UN Women, 2020).
UN Women define Generation Equality as “a call to action to join forces across generations, to create a world where every girl and woman has equal opportunities to fulfil their full potential. Equal access to education and income are central to levelling the playing field for women around the world” (UN Women, 2020).
Women in METS
Levelling the playing field for women can be a difficult task when facing unconscious biases.
Whilst the mining industry has been male dominated, there is a cultural shift with women bringing much needed translatable skills from other industries
On the cusp of the mining industry, the METS sector is uniquely positioned with a plethora of opportunities and the ability to influence this industry.
“Women may not naturally consider this industry. I think that most likely is due to not understanding the different opportunities present,” says Chris.
“I personally stumbled upon the job, but I became interested in this sector due to its international and technology focus. I have previously worked with these as focus areas, but I didn’t set out for a position in Mining or METS – it wasn’t top of mind.”
“There can be a bit of stigma that a career in the METS sector means you’re away from home a lot but that isn’t necessarily true. You can have an exciting career in this industry without needing to be onsite.”
There are so many benefits from a career in the METS sector, so it’s important that the sector works towards informing the public in order to attract the best talent.
One of the ways in which Austmine is getting the word out there to the next generation is with our STEM METS Career Pathway Program.
Building upon the success of our previous programs, Austmine is now offering an expanded program that provides students with on-the-job experience, mentoring and soft skills training for a successful career in the METS sector.
Austmine’s program assists in raising awareness of the METS sector with future leaders and educating them on the amazing technology-driven, entrepreneurial opportunities it holds.
Chris says, “If women knew about the different potential careers and what is possible, we would see an increased desire to work in the sector.”
“We need to be asking how we can continue to make a change.”
Creating more opportunities for growth and increasing awareness of these opportunities is a fundamental step for women assisting women.
Whilst Chris loves celebrating the achievements of women and understands the need for IWD, she hopes we progress to the point where IWD is no longer needed.
“I look forward to when women don’t feel they need a special day for their achievements to be celebrated,” says Chris.
“Every day is really international women’s day because of our collective contribution beyond what the bottom line can measure. Whether you are caring for a loved one, taking your child to school, volunteering in the community or negotiating a multi-million dollar deal, our impact and accomplishments are unquestionable and that should always be recognised."
UN Women 2020, International Women's Day, UNWomen.org.au, [last accessed 10th March 2020: https://unwomen.org.au/international-womens-day/]