Advice to young professionals: decisions, passions and a healthy work-life balance
Life decisions don’t get much bigger than what to do after graduation. Many finish studies with laser-sharp focus, whilst others try their hand at a range of opportunities before settling on their chosen path.
Due to the size and importance of this topic, it seemed only fitting that it was the cornerstone of the WA Mining Club Young Professionals launch event, featuring Gold Fields’ Dr Heidi Pass and Road Resources’ recently retired CEO Ian Murray.
On a long drive back to Vancouver after her first graduate geology job, Heidi was asked by her boss what she wanted what she wanted to do after graduation.
“It was a reasonable question. But it’s one that struck me with a certain amount of anxiety because I didn’t know. In fact, I was intimidated by the question.
Reflecting back, she said that her boss guided her on how to make well thought out decisions through analysis. At the time, there were few geochemists in the industry, especially ones that had a full degree in chemistry and geology, and that this could set her apart to add value to the industry she loved.
“It was then that I decided to officially start my career as a geochemist,” said Heidi with a chuckle.
Her presentation described the way that she continues to use her analytical brain, not only in her chosen profession, but also to make important decisions across all facets of her day to day life.
She discussed the use of three variables to sum a constant. She weighs up up ‘what she likes doing’ against ‘growth’ and the ‘cost/benefit’ to help her arrive at her final decision.
Heidi’s decision-making process inspired the audience, made up of several young professionals, many of who currently face important decisions that affect their career pathway.
Heidi’s analytical decision-making model was tempered against that of Gold Road Resources’ recently retired CEO Ian Murray – the second speaker of the evening.
“I was once a graduate and through my career people have given me opportunities to take the next step.
“With a South African passport, in the midst of Apartheid and sanctions, I had no future as an average professional sportsman – so I had to look for a real career,” said Ian, reflecting on his previous life as a keen windsurfer.
In 1997, Ian was looking for the next step and had two job offers on the table – one from a major insurance company and the other for a mining house.
“I had zero mining knowledge or experience. But I took the mining one based on the advice of my father-in-law, and never looked back.
“Frank Abbot, CFO of Randgold at the time backed me and gave me a chance,” said Mr Murray.
In similar fashion to Ian, Heidi believes in ‘giving people a fair go’ and is a champion for diversity and inclusion.
She challenged society and suggested that we could improve on the allocation of resources, programs and decision-making so that males and females receive a fair share of resources, facilities and access to programs according to their respective needs.
Heidi went onto say that we should recognise that people differ in their capacities, interests, resources and experiences and some may need greater support to reach their full potential.
The practical advice offered by the evening’s two speakers demonstrated different, but equally valuable insights to the audience, which covered individuals at many stages of their career – from University students to senior leaders in the industry.
The evening was also the first for the YP Steering Committee who made it a reality after the idea was first discussed by the Mining Club board earlier this year.