News & Insights – AER News
Life on a remote site featuring Amanda Cotton: Working as HR Manager
Have you ever considered what HR Manager’s role consist of and how different it is to work at a mine site, comparing with the corporate position? On this week’s Q&A Amanda Cotton will help you to get some insight about her experience of working as an HR Manager in a remote mine site.
Amanda worked as the HR and Expatriate Affairs Manager at Glencore’s Katanga Mining operation in DRC. Currently she is working as an Independent Consultant for a gold mine in Africa and is on the Exco of Women in Mining (UK).
Amanda and I already had three conversations about life at a remote mine site. She already gave her advice for people considering an expat role. Also, she was speaking about both living and working at a mine site. This week, we will be discussing the role of HR and Expatriate Manager.
AER – Hi Amanda, it’s good to meet you again. I would like to welcome you on behalf of both AER International and our readers!
AC – Hello again..
AER – Amanda, you have been working and living at a mine site previously. What would you say is a typical day when working at a mine site and what is the key element people should consider when working at a mine site?
AC – All roles and functions are different when working at a mine site, it takes many moving parts to keep a site ticking along on a day to day basis. One of the key areas that apply to everyone though, no matter what role you are performing, is safety. Safety should be everyone’s number 1 concern and priority..
AER – I do agree with that.
Safety should be a number 1 priority no matter the job. However, it is clearly vital looking specifically at a mine site, where one mistake or act of carelessness can cause injuries or even death.
Speaking about the role of HR Manager, what would a typical day look like for an HR Manager at a mine site, if there ever was a typical day?
AC – I am not sure there was ever a typical day as working in this industry can mean no two days are ever the same! My workload was very varied, it was a case of rolling up sleeves and getting the work done. In the same day, I could be working on recruitment plans, interviewing candidates, preparing employment contracts, dealing with onboarding issues, running payroll, conducting disciplinaries, responding to emails, managing local HR issues or expatriate employee issues, meeting with Union representatives, having strategy meetings with the CEO, coaching managers on managing their employees and performance issues. The days were long and the workload huge but I loved every minute of it.
AER – How does an HR Manager’s role differ when at a mine site, compared to a corporate position?
AC – At site, the position would be dealing with day to day HR related issues specific to that site and its employees, whereas at a corporate level, this would be more of a strategic position where policy and direction would be shaped across the wider organisation.
AER – You have mentioned that one of many things you were doing while working as an HR Manager was conducting interviews for potential employees. What advice would you give for a person, who is preparing for their interview for a role at a mine site?
AC – Research and preparation are key, so research the company you will be working for. Find out about the company’s culture, historic and current performance, get an understanding of the direction of the organisation and the management team. Learn about the location of where you will be going and if you can, find out what their accommodation provisions are. You may want to find out from anyone you know that maybe currently working there, what do they do for food, down time entertainment, find out if the mine is remotely located. Talk to other current employees if you know any as well as previous employees. The candidate should be clear on their own CV content and be prepared to talk about their experience and successes to date. They should confidently be able to talk about what they will bring to and do for the organisation that sets themselves apart from the other candidates. Preparation is key!
AER – What are the challenges of recruiting and maintaining expat staff in a remote mine site?
AC –Attracting the right candidates and employee retention is always a key challenge. Providing a competitive compensation package, positive and happy company culture, strong and successful succession plan and good facilities all help to retain and attract employees. At times, we sometimes see the family pull or family issues at home can cause an expat assignment to fail. This is often outside companies’ control but giving support to an employee through issues such as these would help.
AER – How challenging was constantly working long hours?
AC – My role was contractually a 6 day a week position when I was based at the mine site, however, the nature of my workload meant that often there was a need to be working a 7 day week. Where I was located, there was not an awful lot to do outside of work anyway, so working hard , meant that the weeks flew by until the end of my rotation! I really enjoy working in the mining industry and that helps with working long hours. If you enjoy what you are doing, it never seems so bad.
AER – Thank you very much Amanda. It was great to learn from your experience.
AC – I have enjoyed sharing my experience.
AER – Next week Amanda and I will be discussing challenges and opportunities women face in the mining industry. Follow AER International on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for more news and insights.