Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Insights from AusIMM 2019 Summit: Day 1
Austmine Limited
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Insights from AusIMM 2019 Summit: Day 1

By Megan Edwards, Head of Membership Services, Austmine

This week I joined over 100 other leaders from the mining and METS sectors at AusIMM’s Mining Leadership Summit 2019. Launching in 2018, this new addition to the AusIMM events calendar is a critical one, given the pace and the magnitude of change that our industry, and therefore its leaders, are currently facing.

Amidst a fantastic speaker line up on day one, stand out speakers for me included Tony Cotton, Senior Manager People Advisory at EY, who delivered a high energy presentation on the changing nature of work with Industry 4.0 and how that will impact on the mining workforce. Most importantly Tony argued that we need to stop considering this as the workforce of the future and accept it is already the workforce of now. He emphasised the importance of “human skills” (typically labelled soft skills) in a workforce that will need to be more technologically savvy, but also able to think creatively, strategically and in a connected approach.

Rag Udd, VP Technology – Global Transformation at BHP spoke passionately about his drive to ensure their workforce are being proactively upskilled and reskilled to match the business’ needs as it continues along its technology adoption journey. Rag spoke about the need for dynamic and strong leadership to champion a positive environment in the face of this change, and shared insights into BHP’s My Futures program, as well as their current training for superintendents at Goonyella ahead of a potential move to an autonomous fleet there (the study to decide this is still underway).

Tom Craig, Manager Talent & Capability at Rio Tinto gave an engaging presentation around Rio Tinto’s determination to evolve their culture in order to set them up for the future. He noted where they have work to do, around agility, collaboration and diversity and inclusion, but also pointed to positive examples of how they are working these, including the use of Yammer to drive internal collaboration, problem solving and ideation. Tom laid out their framework for setting up the right culture, focusing on Behaviour, Continuous Learning and Leadership.

The day wrapped up with excellent, thought-provoking presentations from Jamie Greer, General Manager – Assessment & Development at Chandler Macleod Group on Emotional Intelligence and Dave Yeates on Digital Disruption in the Mining Industry. Dave admitted that we cannot know exactly what the future of technology and mining looks like, but also pointed out that we can make educated guesses around what there will be more of and what there will be less of.

Key overarching themes I noted across the day included:

  • Admitting failures – this is something I discussed quite a bit with attendees at Austmine’s Mining Innovation conference earlier this year. How will we all learn quicker, and increase our rate of innovation adoption, if we don’t learn to admit to failures or weaknesses? Nearly all the speakers on this day gave examples of where they and/or their company had missed the mark, and how they’ve learned from those mistakes and improved upon operations as a result.
  • People, people, people – probably a given at a leadership summit, but hearing from speaker after speaker how technology is nothing without the people to leverage it was positive and demonstrated where our industry’s leaders’ focus is.
  • The “next generation” of workers is already here, in our workplaces and therefore positive change, ongoing learning opportunities and the process of reskilling all need to start now.
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