Tracey Kerr's top 10 tips for a prosperous career in mining

Published: 17/11/2014

Tracey Kerr, Group Head of Exploration at Anglo American plc was the guest speaker at Women in Ming UK’s annual Education seminar last week which is an annual event geared towards students and recent graduates who are planning early career moves. It is always well attended also by more experienced WIM (UK) members are and it is a nice way for us all to give back and share experiences and tips.

Tracey has had a phenomenal career and she shared insights on her journey to date and on life in the industry in an informal and engaging way. Most importantly she shared a number of tips that have helped her in her career and we list them below.

  1. Have a plan B: as mining is cyclical plan ahead to soften periods of redundancy and mining downturns. You can do so by saving, taking a small mortgage rather than a large one, not living beyond your means. Instead of seeing yourself as a victim if you get made redundant see it as an opportunity to embrace change, find a new job, go travelling, study for a degree etc.
  2. Take opportunities offered to you even if it feels like it might be stretch for you; Similarly, stop putting/imagining obstacles where there aren’t any
  3. Nourish your reputation internally and externally, especially as mining is a close-knit family
  4. Juggling family and work is possible and personal solutions can be found and managers approached; do set your limits clearly about what you are prepared to do or not
  5. Engage in personal relationships: don’t always rely on e-mail – pick up your phone
  6. Work hard: in each role be the best you can be
  7. Find out how your work fits in with the department/business unit/ company – try to see the big picture from a 360 degree angle, see where you can add value
  8. Volunteer to help others regularly: by helping others you both grow
  9. Don’t expect your company to offer everything on a silver platter: be ready to pay to go for interviews, pay for transfer, accommodation etc – be prepared to show you want the job
  10. Occasionally taking a step back or sidewise in your career can be good: it allows you to learn/explore something new and will open up the pool of opportunities

Tracey Kerr’s Biography:

Tracey graduated from the University of Sydney in 1986 with a B.Sc Hons degree. In 1987 she commenced work with BHP Minerals Exploration in Australia.
While working for BHP she completed her Masters Degree in Economic Geology in 1995 at the University of Tasmania (CODES). Tracey worked for BHP for approximately 18 years, based in Australia, UK and Canada, exploring for a variety of commodities in many different countries. From 2001 to 2005 she worked in BHPB’s global iron ore exploration team, responsible for iron ore projects in South Africa and Guinea, prior to becoming Global Iron Ore Commodity Specialist for BHPB Mineral Exploration.
In late 2005 Tracey joined Vale in Australia as a Technical Coordinator for the Australasian region, responsible for project generation. In 2007 she was promoted to General Manager of the Technical Services team within Vale Exploration and was transferred to Canada. The team was composed of technical specialists in different commodities and exploration techniques, responsible for best practice in Vale’s global exploration programs and technical geological input into strategic planning and portfolio management for Vale Exploration.
In July 2008 she was promoted to Director, Exploration – Americas for Vale, based initially in Toronto, Canada, and later in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In this role Tracey was responsible for Vale’s greenfield exploration projects in the Americas from early stage through to pre-feasibility for a variety of commodities including copper, nickel, iron ore, coal and fertilizers.
In 2011 Tracey joined Anglo American plc as Group Head of Exploration, based in the UK.
Tracey is married with two children, aged 8 and 12 . She enjoys the outdoors, hiking and camping. Tracey also has a keen interest in travel and learning languages as well as amateur astronomy.