Lynda Daley challenges change with role switch

Published: 08/03/2013

23 June 2009

By Emily Roberts, HighGrade

GRADUATING as a geologist in 1985 when the mining industry was in the doldrums wasn’t an ideal start point but it is perhaps testament to Lynda Daley’s character that this didn’t upset the pursuit of her chosen career for long.

She eventually landed a job. During a hot February in 1986 it was off to Newmont’s Telfer gold mine in the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia on the other side of the country from her Brisbane home in Queensland.

Many jobs and 23 years later, Daley is now manager exploration business development with the same company, Newmont Asia Pacific, in Perth. Her roles in between included stints as senior geologist with Plutonic Resources and Summit Gold, exploration and mining geologist with Newcrest Mining and Worsley Alumina, and seven years running her own consulting business.

Daley said the Newmont business development role, which she started upon returning to the company in 2005, provided new insights into the way the industry worked.

“The key challenges are keeping up with the diversity and changes in the industry,” she said. “In business development sometimes you feel a bit a like a jack of all trades; you need to know something about a range of topics, from the technical side to keeping up with the latest exploration drilling hot spots, to designing an innovative deal, to putting a presentation to sell an idea to internal management, to valuing projects and putting together cash flow models, to keeping up the valuable network of contacts. I don’t really have time to be a specialist in anything,” she said.

Daley graduated from Queensland University in 1985 with Honours and spent six years working onsite as one of the first female geologists to work in the industry. It was at Telfer that Daley met her first mentor.

“I have two main mentors in the industry, both professional geologists although many others have inspired me,” she said. “The first is my boss Brian Levet at Newmont who I first worked for in 1986 when I graduated and worked as a mine geologist at Telfer. Brian was great at instilling a strong work ethic and expected a lot but didn’t actually hand feed you, something that was really valuable. Co-incidentally, when Newmont merged with Normandy – who I was working for in 2002 – Brian became my boss again.

“My other mentor is Alan Eggers whom I worked for and with in the mid-to-late 90s. He turned up at the hospital the day I had my first child to congratulate me and he was the first to invite us out for dinner the day after we got out of hospital. We were shell shocked at the time and I remember my husband wore his slippers out to dinner. A few months later Alan got me back working again just a little at a time. It was really great to have that support and encouragement through a real life changing time. During my second pregnancy he asked me onto the board of Summit Resources where I worked and I did the company director’s course while and after having my second child, again a real vote of confidence in my ability and inspired me to keep advancing my career.”

Daley said it was invaluable to have “someone believe in my ability” and it is networks such as the Women in Mining group that also help give women confidence to advance their careers.

“It’s great to socialise with other women in the business and to encourage each other as it can be hard to keep your career on track when you have kids, and it really needs other people to believe in you during these times,” she said. “Having said that, I think things are a bit easier now than even 10 years ago. There is a lot more tolerance for salaried part-time work and more emphasis on work-life balance, but we still need to keep pressing for this as it advantages families and not just women.”

Daley had some advice for younger geologists. “One good thing I did was doing site-based mine work early in my career when I was single,” she said. “I lived on site for six years and wouldn’t have liked to have done that 10 years down the track. I believe mine experience is crucial for an exploration geologist as it allows you to understand intimately what sort of deposits and prospects become economic and what information you need to collect and observe when you are looking at other people’s/companies’ projects. I think waiting to have kids until after I had got to a senior level was good as I had some flexibility as to what I did when I came back to work.”

Daley said she was content to continue to learn in her business development role, and had no immediate plans for a change. “I will probably be doing the same thing [in 2-5 years time],” she said. “I feel like I am actually achieving a lot now and have learnt some key skills to do this work. I am constantly learning new things. I think when that stops it will be time to move on.”

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