The 2019 Women in Industry Awards are crowded by females who have made a difference in their field. Roy Hill manager operations planning Jodi Moffitt reveals the life and career obstacles she has overcome on her way to success at the event.
The 2019 Women in Industry Awards are lined with gamechangers from the mining sector, not the least a planning manager that started out with no formal qualifications.
Jodi Moffitt began in the resources industry as Rio Tinto’s production operator when she was 19. Eleven years later, the 30-year-old woman, now Roy Hill’s manager operations planning, has won the Rockwell Automation Excellence in Mining Award under Gina Rinehart’s leadership.
The awards category recognises individuals who have made a positive contribution to one of the many facets of the mining industry, and for Moffitt that facet would be mine digitalisation.
There are five remote control centres operating in Australia, including Roy Hill’s, and Moffitt has played a part in the industry’s move to embrace these new technologies. The concept of a remote operations centre was as new to the industry as Moffitt was when she started her mining career in 2007.
“I came into the industry without any formal qualifications but with a lot of self-drive and ambition,” Moffitt tells Australian Mining.
Her drive and persistence to succeed has taken her from a place of having no management responsibilities to leading a team of 44 as a superintendent at Roy Hill.
Moffitt helped set up the remote operations centre (ROC) with a team of four supervisors, who oversaw 40 controllers under her chain of command, providing 24/7 control of Roy Hill’s mining fleet, crushing circuit, wet process plant, train load out and port operations.
“I was given quite a bit of autonomy in this role, which enabled me to create a cohesive team and influence how the centre would run,” Moffitt says.
“Embracing technology, adapting to change and thinking outside of the box certainly helped me thrive in this role. To have played a pivotal role in setting up the ROC at Roy Hill, which has set new standards for the resources industry, has been a really satisfying feat.”
Beating gender barriers
It is no secret that juggling family life with the demands of a job in mining can be challenging, but Moffitt chose to turn it into a learning opportunity and optimise her time to maximise results.
Moffitt and her husband started a family when she was 23. Moffitt actively worked in the pit as a short-term planning engineer up until a month before her baby was due.
Within four months of having her first child, Moffitt was back into part-time work, ensuring that she maintained a quality work/life balance.
Two years later, Moffitt returned to working full-time while pursuing her Master of Mining Engineering by correspondence after the birth of her second child.
Moffitt accepted a full-time fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) role as a scheduling engineer and became a FIFO mother, alongside a FIFO husband, after 18 months of maternity leave.
Her professional role required her to deliver mine plans weekly, chair meetings, building trusting relationships with the operational crews and be a voice for the operation.
Unsurprisingly, Moffitt counts raising two young children with a FIFO partner, while being a FIFO mother herself as she worked her way up the corporate mining ladder, as one of her biggest accomplishments.
“Juggling the commitment of a leadership role with two young children and my husband working FIFO has, of course, had its challenges,” Moffitt says.
“The (FIFO) role required me to travel from Brisbane to a central Queensland mine. I would leave my kids at home and was only able to make the experience work with the help of my family, who would travel interstate monthly to help take care of my kids.”
Her success emphasises that people can succeed in the mining industry while having a family, “given the right mindset.”
Further, Moffitt has triumphed over a bullying experience twice in her career as a young female in the male-dominated resources industry. She persisted to follow the company’s processes and escalated her concerns.
Moffitt also focused on maintaining “a positive attitude and staying true to my convictions, standards and morals.”
“Being a woman in a male-dominated industry has had its challenges, though rather than thinking about these as barriers, I’ve always preferred to focus on doing my job effectively. It’s important not to get caught up thinking things should be different or harder because of gender,” Moffitt says.
“It’s very important to me to be a good role model for my kids and the young people around me, (and) it’s equally as important knowing that I have pushed myself to be the best that I can be.”
As a long-term mine planner, Moffitt would drive a truck and pull out her university books while being parked under the excavator being loaded.
Moffitt also volunteered to take the early car into work with her supervisors in the initial stages of her career as a production operator to ensure she got the opportunity to learn the physically demanding fuel lube truck role. At the time, she was the only female lube and fuel cart operator across all of Rio Tinto’s Pilbara operations.
“I have experienced some challenging times, but it has taught me to optimise my time to maximise results,” Moffitt says.
Her current focus is to lead her team by example and continue building her own technical expertise – Moffitt believes this is how to earn the most respect.
Moffitt also made a decision to commit to a leadership path as her new goal when reaching a crossroad in her career in 2016.
Her measure of success as a manager lies in getting the best out of people and helping them realise their full potential.
While at Roy Hill, Moffitt has taken the opportunity to mentor and inspire young women to further themselves within the resources industry.
“I think it’s important to guide and inspire young people to set goals and work hard towards these, so they can succeed in their chosen career pathway,” Moffitt says.
The planning manager also volunteers as a mentor for the Career Mentor Link and Women in Engineering program at the University of Western Australia, where she has the opportunity to coach and inspire young women to become leaders within the resources industry.
Moffitt recounts the achievements and leadership of her chairman Gina Rinehart, which demonstrates what is possible “if you put your mind to it.”
“Mrs Rinehart’s work ethic and commitment is echoed among the Roy Hill leadership team. Their support and ‘can do attitude’ that’s embraced by all who work at Roy Hill has been instrumental to my success,” the award winner concludes.
This article also appears in the July edition of Australian Mining.