We hear you. It can be so hard to feel connected to your loved ones when you’re hours apart and missing out on events, catch-ups and quality time with them. 

Luckily, keeping in contact while you are on a roster, has never been easier than in this day and age! 

Here are six platforms to use to stay up to date and in contact with your loved ones. 

1. Skype/Facetime/Facebook Video 

This is the closest thing to face-to-face contact. Perfect for live family chats to communicate all at the same times. It’s free and simple to keep in touch – all you need is a Wi-Fi connection. 

2. WhatsApp 

The perfect app for group chats. Send messages, images, gifs, voice recordings, etc;  all at your leisure. 

3. Videos and Voice Recordings 

No need for special apps to nail this one – but you can sing happy birthday into the phone and send it to your loved one on their birthday, just as an example. 

4. Family Organiser Apps 

Get “Cozi” to keep you in the loop with what’s happening in people’s day-to-day life at home. This way you’ll never be out of the loop when it comes to appointments, playdates, and everything in-between. 

5. Podcasts/Movies 

Organise to both watch or listen to a podcast/movie at the same time as each other – then talk about it over the phone later. 

6. Online/App games 

There are so many live games to play with others. Grab a mate and load up your console. 

5 ways to stand out from the job-seeking crowd

Thanks to the internet and social media, job searching is now more competitive than ever before. As skilled candidates jostle for attention in a fast-paced market, how do you make sure that employers see you and see your potential? 

We’ve put together these tips for increasing your visibility and maximising that exposure to land the roles you want. 

Lift your LinkedIn game 

Recruiters scour LinkedIn for excellent candidates, and it’s become an essential platform for professionals to promote themselves. If you’re not using LinkedIn well, you’re doing yourself a big disservice, so if you know your profile needs work then get stuck in now! 

Do these things and you’re off to a great start: 

  • Put your best foot forward with a clear, compelling headline. 
  • Use a professional headshot. 
  • Write a brief summary that tells your story and highlights your most relevant experience. 
  • Give examples and quantify your achievements with specific facts and figures where possible. Show how you made a difference in the organisations you’ve worked for. 
  • Get endorsements. An easy way to do this is to endorse others; they’ll often return the favour. 
  • Get recommendations. Be specific when asking a connection to write you a recommendation; give them an idea of what you’d like covered so that it’s relevant to your job search. 

Do research 

Find out all you can about companies you want to work for. Follow them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to keep up with their news and gauge their key concerns. Then use this information to make yourself an appealing candidate. 

Cultivate relationships 

The importance of networking can’t be overstated. Hiring decisions are often the result of referrals, so if you have contacts who can suggest jobs for you and introduce you to employers you should capitalise on those relationships. Signing up with a recruitment company (like ours!) that specialises in your field is also a great way to find opportunities that are right for you. 

Also, stay in touch with people after interviews – even if you didn’t get the job. Think strategically about building relationships that could be lucrative for you in the long term. 

Be a positive presence 

People want to hire positive people – let this guide the way you present yourself online. Whether on social media or your own website or blog, avoid airing grievances about jobs and be cautious about negative comments generally. 

You can cultivate your professional brand by: 

  • developing a clean, error-free website of your own that includes an online resume 
  • using consistent branding across your website, social media and business cards 
  • liking, sharing and commenting on industry articles on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Make friends with Google 

Make your website or blog rich in keywords in order to rank well in Google search results. Look for common terms in job descriptions for your industry and then incorporate them into your online resume. Also make sure to write acronyms out in full the first time you use them on a web page. Improving your searchability means you’re increasing the number of people seeing your credentials, so it pays to pay attention to keywords. 

VUCA Planning: what does a resilient mine plan look like?

Many of us have entered 2020 with a great deal of trepidation. It seems the only thing we can rely on this year is taxes and death (too soon?). The world is becoming increasingly volatile and uncertainty reigns supreme, as such it is probably time we started to accept this as the new normal. If it isn’t the Coronavirus it will be a long drought, a flood, a supply chain disruption or a tech disruption that will cause us to have to suddenly change tack. But how do you plan for disruption when you have no idea what will cause it in the future.

We hear a lot about VUCA, a situation that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and or Ambiguous, what we don’t hear a lot about is what it takes to carve a path through that.

  • Where you have Volatility you need to apply Vision,
  • Where you have Uncertainty you need to increase your Understanding,
  • Where you have Complexity you must create Clarity and Simplicity
  • Where you have Ambiguity you need to find a way to be Adaptable

Managing External VUCA Risks:

Variability is not a new phenomenon in nature and we have many mathematical solutions to help us understand the impacts of these in terms we can intrinsically understand as a business risk. The factors impacting a business can be numerous and overwhelming but each financial model we build has estimations for what we expect from a market such as predicted volume, supply, demand, exchange rates etc. One of the most respected methods for understanding risk is the Monte Carlo simulation. This is used to understand the probability of different outcomes of intervention of random variables. It provides a great platform for financial impact scenario modelling.

In addition to this and perhaps in compliment; in operations, there is a well-known model called “the News Vendor Model” for estimating what volume of product a company can expect to move in a market that has uncertainty in demand and particularly where there is a perishable element to the product (think coal). In short, it provides guidance on the question of what demand might look like in a risk-balanced approached. It is a simple formula that factors in the cost of what will be sold at “clearance” if there is oversupply against what the loss is in opportunity if you failed to supply enough based on long spans of historical data. It is not common in mining but has been used sporadically in volatile spot markets ad to assess investments, as such we think it might be a tool worth adding to the mix.

Managing Internal VUCA Risks

Internal supply to market issues in mining nearly always stem from failure to manage operational risk, be it safety, an understanding of geological risk or the ability to safeguard and manage your assets. When share prices fall for mining companies the majority of times it’s because operations were managed poorly rather than external market conditions. A mining company must know how to manage the known unknowns and unknown unknowns. Robust procedures for maintenance of assets and supply chains will assist in reducing this risk, and common threats to production such as unplanned geotechnical movement, wet weather including seasonal floods and cyclones, drought, fire and safety can be prevented or managed from the top down with a robust risk management system and risk registers that are linked to everyday actions. We highly recommend a regular audit process as a means of establishing best practice in risk management for each of these areas.  

Beyond this building resilience into your mine plan extends to how you well you are set up to manage the pivots in the market. In this case how you define ore is critical to being able to pivot and take advantage of the swings and roundabouts. If you have activity-based accounting methods and cost models for defining ore that are well modelled you can quickly flex to change your definition of ore when you need it most and take advantage of the market conditions.

Being Digital is offering a significant advantage to companies who have invested in the tech. If it’s done right it will enable you to work out where you are losing volume, time and money along the value chain and quickly correct course. If your data is live you can enable Short Interval Control to step in before a problem evolves.

The world may well be a VUCA place but if you want to stay in business you need to install Vision, Clarity, Understanding and Agility into your operational environments. 

Graduate Program Embraces Working From Home

Rain, hail, shine or coronavirus – the MEC Mining Graduate Program still thrives!

The MEC Mining Graduate Program has continued despite the current restrictions of the COVID-19 virus. Principal of Learning & Development, Loren Ager and Brisbane based MEC Mining Graduates Zhongwei Wang, Ivy Pan and Leandro Nunes have continued to contribute to the business by working from home.

Leandro Nunes describes the way in which MEC has enabled graduates to work from home. “MEC has supported me by providing a computer with all the software I need to keep working from home. It is different from working in the office as I must explain myself better so others can help me properly. But we adapted to the situation, and I still feel like I am developing as an engineer. I expected to learn basic engineering skills in the Graduate Program, like mining software, and I have kept learning these skills from home. So, the output of the program has not changed, only the way we are doing it.”

Zhongwei Wang has reflected on a working from home environment. “At the beginning, I thought WFH might be a challenge to me as a graduate mining engineer, and that lack of face to face supervision from senior colleagues might be a problem. This would be especially the case when I got stuck and found it hard to describe the issue precisely. The fact is, I have successfully overcome this challenge and completed my haul road design work under the supervision of Lukman – a great mentor.  I appreciate MEC’s quick response to the pandemic.  They have taken care of the wellbeing and health of their employees, especially for me as a graduate mining engineer working from home”.

Ivy Pan has reflected on how the team works together. “With support from the MEC family, especially our team leader, we are doing well or even better on our tasks. They are providing us with VPN to connect our shared drives, the access of remote control from home, dongles of Vulcan, etc. Moreover, our team leader – Loren holds graduate catch-up meetings every Thursday to make sure that everyone on the graduate team is well and helps solve problems that we’re facing.”

Career pivots: how to make it happen

“Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor, but success comes where preparation and opportunity meet”

This excerpt is by MEC Mining’s Technical Services Manager, Erin Sweeney: A results-focused and experienced mining professional who has worked across a broad range of commodities including gold, base metals, iron ore and coal operations. Her background lies in geotechnical engineering, designing, modelling and implementing cost-effective, innovative mine solutions in both site-based and in consultative roles. Erin has leveraged these skills into project management and then leadership roles with a focus on adding value, ensuring safe sustainable cash flow and growth through technical influence.

“Growing up in Wagga Wagga NSW, I was never pre-exposed to the idea of a career in mining. When I found myself on my first mine site in Queensland’s coal basin as a graduate exploration geologist sitting on a drill rig logging core while being entertained by drillers antics, I surprised almost everyone who knows me – including myself. 

When I graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science,  which I originally intended to use to pursue a government department role, I found myself graduating into a mining boom, where I was quickly given an exciting offer to head to an Anglo American site near Middlemount to be a Graduate Exploration Geologist with a consulting company. From an Exploration Geologist to Geotechnical Engineer, to Mine Planning and Technical Services management and now managing the growth of MEC Mining WA, I have had my fair share of career pivots. Some were easy due to the demand in the market but there were a few where I really had to work hard to make it happen.

Here are a few things I have learnt along the way that stack the cards in your favour:

  • Is the position you want inside your organisation already?

It is far easier to pivot inside your organisation than to leave it and find that new role. Being a known quantity is everything and organisations are more willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the devil they know. However, you still may need to undertake additional study to seal the deal.

  • Get your elevator pitch ready

It is important to share your ambition. Tell everyone that you know where you are going consistently and frequently. The more people you tell the more the opportunities for pivot enabling work will come your way. But be patient, it takes time for this seed planting to show green shoots.

  • Find a great mentor

Find a sponsor higher up in the organisation – higher than your immediate manager. Decisions about who fills roles and what opportunities are available get made behind closed doors every day. If you have an advocate in the room who isn’t biased by their own need for you to be in your current role then you have a good chance of winning the opportunity.

  • Be open to taking baby steps

Look for a sidestep role if a promotion is too much of a leap, you don’t necessarily have to move backwards to establish a new career in a different area. There are many transferable skills that you can apply to a new role; you can learn a lot by taking a sidestep if you are willing to throw yourself into a steep learning curve.

  • Be open to pushing yourself.

When you pivot you aren’t going to be on the same page as your peers, so you need to make more time to listen and learn. Fail fast, maintain resilience and be open to feedback. All feedback you receive is filtered through a modicum of bias affecting the giver, but you must still develop a good filter to find the grain of truth and a potential lesson.

Career pivots are becoming a new normal and the Australian mining industry is now more flexible than ever before on this issue. Diversity of thought is the number one asset you bring to a new tack. Take some time to map out your new journey so you can fully understand what gaps and overlaps you have and stay determined.”

Being a resilient leader in the wake of COVID-19

Written by MEC Mining’s Technical Services Manager, Erin Sweeney

The human brain is an amazing thing, it is the central control of our bodies keeping us alive. It stores our memories and uses them helps us navigate and assign meaning to the complex world of interacting with other humans, things and events by linking emotions to the myriad of data coming in from our sensors all in an effort to keep us safe and alive. If we leave this process on auto-control our lives can quickly get overwhelming when we face times that are Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

As leaders there is an expectation that you map out the way forward for your team, never is this more important than when the road gets rough. In order to be able to do this, you must first find a way to hack your brain’s natural responses and get it working for you so you can get on with leading your team out of the rough.

When an event happens, we are all triggered with an initial emotional hijack. Your internal programming recognises a threat and you subconsciously go into flight, fight or flail mode. From here your programming moves to appraisal mode as you work out why this happened, what it means and what you must do.  The first step in resilient leadership is making sure when this happens you take control of the process as soon as possible.

Why did this happen?

When we immediately attribute blame, be it internal or external, we are not helping ourselves find the opportunity. Instead during this time, it is most useful to understand the humanness of ourselves. Failure is rarely fatal, and it helps us to understand that the locus of control we have over our lives sits only within ourselves and rarely with external events. The ability to review the event with a compassionate lens will de-escalate the emotional triggers and move you quickly to the next phase. If you get really stuck here, you can pattern break the spiralling thought process controlled by the amygdala with something that requires immediate mental focus like counting backwards from 1000 in 7’s.

What does it mean?

When we attribute meaning to something we are trying to work out if what we are dealing with is a threat or a challenge. In its simplest form, a threat is something we evaluate as not having the resources to meet the demand required to overcome the event. A challenge is where we believe we have what it takes to get through this. Resilience is choosing to see the event as a challenge. It requires you to view the event response as finding a way to balance the resources with demands.

What do I have to do?

This is where the rubber meets the road and resilient leadership really shows up. It will likely require you to break the demands down into smaller and smaller tasks until they meet the size of your resources. This might look like a grocery list of things that need to be done over time. Or it could be working out what is in your immediate field of influence. What information do you have that you can use to make at least one decision? When things are changing all the time focusing on what you do know, and what you can do, will inform what the next right thing is. Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can.

The take-home message in all this is we have a choice in how we view the world and the lens we apply to the events in our lives. It is important to be aware of your natural programming so you can over-ride the emotional hijack and step up to the plate with confidence. We are imperfect human beings so cut yourself some slack if you don’t get it right. This programming control is easier if it practised every day. So, don’t write off that meditation or mindfulness session, it is grooming you for big things.