Can you magnify your mining career with a mentor?

A mentoring session over coffee, between two people in mining in Australia.

One of the most effective ways to magnify your mining career in Australia could be to find yourself a mentor.

Having a mentor could be your pathway to “career gold” in mining.

There’s a real trend in mining for encouraging mentoring programs and relationships, as the industry seeks to develop a pipeline of future leaders.

In February this year, the WA Mining Club announced it would work closely with the WA School of Mines to launch a new Young Professionals mentoring program. It’s just the latest in a number of popular mentoring programs helping boost the careers of mining’s future leaders. Austmine has its innovation-focused mentoring program, for example, and the Women in Mining groups in various states have been running very successful programs for several years.

TAKE OUR POLL: Have you had a mining mentor? What was your experience like?

Why mentoring makes sense in mining

Mentoring makes sense for many industries and the power of it should not be underestimated in mining.  

Susan Lawrence, Mining People’s General Manager of Professional and Technical, said mentoring is so common in the Australian mining industry, you’d be hard-pressed to find a senior leader in mining who doesn’t at least occasionally reference a prominent name as having been instrumental to them at some stage in their career.

“Mentors are a trusted source, someone who has supported them in their chosen field and helped them with the benefit of wisdom, to elevate their performance,” she said.

“Mentoring is really common in many businesses, and rightly so. The underlying benefit of mentoring is it enables a person to present their ‘best self’ at work more often, and to develop at a quicker pace. It can also have a knock-on effect, where those around the person being mentored also lift their game, and so on.

“Usually in mentoring someone further along in their career (and life) than you offers you the benefit of their experience to show you better ways forward. Mentors understand the different ways certain scenarios can play out, because they’ve seen it all before, so they can give you greater confidence and courage in tackling challenges you might otherwise shy away from.”

The difference having a mentor makes

A study by the University of Southampton’s Equality Challenge Unit in 2012 found these seven main benefits from having a mentor:

  • Career advancement, including a higher rate of promotion
  • Increased opportunities and a likelihood of staying at an organisation
  • Higher salaries
  • Increased productivity and better time management
  • Personal and professional development, including increased job-related wellbeing, self-esteem and confidence, and better work-life balance
  • Preparation for the future and heightened career aspirations
  • Developed networking skills.

What to do next about mentoring

Susan, who benefited from a mentoring program early in her career, said mentoring relationships can be either formal or informal, but official arrangements are more likely to provide results.

Many organisations, like those mentioned above, have new mentoring programs starting annually. The mentors giving their time to these programs are some of the best and brightest the Australian mining industry has to offer – so the programs are well worth investigating.

TAKE OUR POLL: Which Australian mining figure would you most love to mentor you?

If you can’t find a mentoring program, it’s worth remembering that some of the benefits you get from mentoring can also be gained from engaging a consultant.

Several of our consultants at Mining People give their time to mentoring programs, but their expertise is also available to jobseekers. We offer career guidance as one of our services, for example.

This month’s Mining People Poll looks at why mining mentors matter. Tell us about your experience with mentoring, and who your dream mentor would be, here.


Dan Hatch
Mining People International