Australian Mining Prospect Awards Winner: Manager of the Year

The 2014 Prospect Award for Manager of the Year has gone to Joanne Corliss, a mine monitoring supervisor (MMS) at the Bengalla Coal mine, near Muswellbrook.

Rio Tinto Coal has been especially proud of Corliss, with the company nominating her for a Prospect Award on the merits of her achievements as one of only two female frontline supervisors at Bengalla.

With only 20 per cent female representation in the Bengalla workforce, Corliss has been a role model to other females who want to pursue a career in frontline leadership.

Since Corliss' appointment to the role, she has mentored another female technician who was recently appointed into the MMS role.

Corliss' patient and calm nature makes her a good coach and mentor to other employees and contractors.

Corliss was identified as a talent within the mining department as a mining technician due to her initiative and drive.

Although Corliss enjoyed operating heavy equipment, her true passion lay in a leadership role where she was able to work in a fast paced, high stress environment, coordinating labour and resources.

She would often spend periods of wet weather or downtime in the MMS office learning the ropes and assisting the supervisors.

Since that time, Corliss has undertaken modular training and supervisor training and was appointed as a full time MMS in 2012.

Corliss has developed strong interpersonal skills since being appointed in the Mine Monitoring Supervisor role.

A mining technician described Jo as "firm but fair and treats everyone consistently", a manner that has earned her a lot of respect from the crew and management team.

Corliss has also taken on a mentoring role with new starters on site, in particular mining technicians on the crib relief roster, the majority of whom are female, and she gets enjoyment out of providing technicians with industry insights, and other tips and tricks to help them on their way.

Corliss has been able to provide support for them when they are having a bad day, or finding their role a bit overwhelming.

Bengalla general manager operations Dan Janney said he was very pleased with the way Corliss worked her way up from being a technician in the mine to a key leader in the business.

"Through periods of acting up in the Dispatch Supervisor role, Jo demonstrated a clear ability to understand the Mine Monitoring and Control system and to provide direction to her team in the field," he said.

"It was not long before Jo was offered a full time role in this leadership position a year and a half ago.

"During this time, Jo has led her team through a challenging transition to a much more focused, efficient and productive operation.

"With her leadership, and in association with her peers, Bengalla has realised a 10 per cent improvement in Utilisation of Availability of the truck fleet over prior years."

Mining supervisor Richard Darby said Corliss is well-respected around the site and by her crew.

"She doesn't shy away from managing difficult situations or holding others accountable even when these situations are confronting," he said. 

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