Laura Hayman certainly knows her way around a mine site (and an airport or two) having spent the last nine years FIFO on some of Australia’s largest underground and open pit mines.
A career in mining lured the Melbournian engineer to the bright lights of Perth.
The RMIT graduate holds degrees in both Applied Geology and Geological Engineering, and recently completed her Master of Engineering Science in Mining Geomechanics at the WA School of Mines.
Adding to her list of achievements, Hayman was this year voted the winner of Australian Mining’s Peoples’ Choice award.
“It’s fantastic to be recognised for all your hard work,” Hayman said.
“Being in mining for the last ten years has certainly not been easy and one or two times I have thought of giving it all up, but it’s nice to be recognised.”
Hayman said the biggest challenge experienced throughout her mining career has been the status and lack of women on site.
“You have try and break down that barrier,” she said.
Hayman was also a finalist for the Young Professional of the Year Award and the Women in Mining Award.
With over 10 years’ experience as a Geotechnical Engineer, including five years open pit mine site work, four years underground, and one year consulting in both, Hayman has worked extensively through the Goldfields and Pilbara in W.A.
Moving from underground to open pit mining she was the first female geotechnical ever on site, and soon became aware that she was a woman in a man’s world. This has never stopped her from achieving her goals though.
After nine years working on mine sites Hayman decided she wanted to focus on mining geotechnical design work.
Hayman says over the next 12 months she hopes to become a Chartered Professional Engineer (CPEng) for both the Australian Institute of Metallurgy (AusIMM) and the Institute of Engineers Australia (IEAust).
Earlier this year Hayman provided some handy advice for women wanting to succeed in the mining sector.
Hayman explains that building a support network within the mining industry can help support women well into the future.
“Having advice and counsel networks within your current workplace helps you to exercise sound judgement and maintain perspective,” she said.
“It is wise to commit the extra time to attend external networking forums and to seek out similar women in your company to build a support structure for each other.”
She explains that early wins go a long way towards building credibility in the mining sector.
“Entering the workforce in mining as a female and being the minority of the mining workforce, I think women are more visible and are sometimes more easily targeted for criticism,” she wrote.
“First impressions count, always do your best, and secure early wins to build your personal credibility. Organise goals with your manager in order to obtain these early wins.”
Adapting to situations and reading a worksite’s culture can help women succeed in the mining sector, Hayman says.
“Each workplace has a different set of ‘unwritten rules’ and the faster you can adapt the better off you will be,” she said.
“Identify how the organisation really works in ways such as how results are achieved, how the company promotes and give recognition to employees, how conflict is resolved, how meetings are conducted, how to gain support for critical initiatives and who are the key players.”
Hayman said getting to where she is today has taken a lot of perseverance.
“The difficult mine site workplace experiences I’ve had have been worth persevering through to get me where I am today,” she said.
“It also helps to have a clear career objective and use your support network to help plan what you need to do to get there. Doing further study is extremely worthwhile.
“Perseverance, hard work and beginning with the end in mind certainly in my experience do pay off.”
Working in mining, women can find it difficult sometimes to balance work, family and lifestyle, Hayman explains establishing a balance can take great discipline.
“I think sexist attitudes can sometimes still be encountered on mine sites and a ‘boy’s club’ mentality can exist,” she said.
“The widely used workplace code of behaviour didn’t exist when I started out as it does now, but I think the mine site workplace culture is slowly changing for the better.”