News & Insights – AER News
Life on a remote site featuring Amanda Cotton: Considering an expat role?
If you are considering taking on your first ex-pat mining role and would like to better understand the realities of such an exciting – but challenging opportunity – then these Q & A sessions with Amanda Cotton might be useful.
Amanda used to work as the HR and Expatriate Affairs Manager at Glencore’s Katanga Mining operation in DRC. At the moment Amanda is working as an Independent Consultant and is on the Exco of Women in Mining (UK).
In this particular discourse Amanda will speak about things which are important to understand before taking on such a role.
AER – First of all, on behalf of the team at AER International and our readers I would like to thank you for conducting this interview for us. We are delighted to be able to tap into your experience.
AC – The pleasure is all mine! Thank you for having me.
AER – Amanda, you have been working previously as an International Expat in DRC. It is understandable that each mine site has specific challenges. However, what do you think are the key challenges for an individual undertaking their first expat assignment at a mine site?
AC – For someone that has not worked as an expat before, there are many challenges to consider before they actually even get to the detail of what their new job role will be like. Things like:-
- If the travel is considerable to their new location, how will they deal with that on a fairly regular basis?
- What may they expect from the location of the site, is it very remote or close to a town?
- If remote, what will there be to do outside of work, how will they feel being away from the modern conveniences of today for weeks on end?
- What type of housing they will stay in, will it be shared accommodation and how will that suit them?
- What will extended time away from family be like, they may have concerns about how any family at home may adjust.
- Do they have any medical needs or dietary requirements that may not easily be able to be managed if working at a remote location?
- Working and living close by with colleagues is not suited to everyone so that may be something to consider.
- Working a long 6 day week is fairly common place in expatriate mine site positions, it can be tough for those not used to that.
- The purpose of an expat is usually to teach/train and coach local staff, so at some point, they can hand their role across to them. Do they have the right skills to do this and have they thought through how best to deliver that skill.
AER – Would you do it again?
AC – Yes, I would. However, now having school age children, I would need to consider the role and location far more carefully than I did before.
AER – Would you recommend an expat role to a friend?
AC – Yes absolutely. For me, it was a very enjoyable experience. It gives a very different experience to working out of a corporate environment.
AER – How did you cope with missing your family?
I spent time working as an expat before I was married or had children, therefore, the family pull at the time was not something I needed to consider like I would today. However, I did miss the creature comforts of home and all that goes with it, so I was happy to keep in touch with my home base family and friends by emails, text messages, skype/facetime and I always loved to receive news and see photos of ‘my outside world’ whilst I was working on rotation overseas.
AER – What sort of personal qualities should individual’s possess to be successful in an expat role?
AC – Resilient, tolerant of others when living in close quarters, a flexible attitude, open minded, open to change. Most importantly, a person should be open to an adventure.
AER – What advice would you give for a professional considering an expat role?
AC – Research the company you will be working for. Research the company’s culture, location of where you will be going and find out what their accommodation provisions are, including what do they do for food there and down time entertainment, talk to other current employees as well as previous employees. Ensure they understand the role and purpose of an expatriate position that at some point, they will be required to step back and hand their role on to a capable national employee.
AER – Thank you very much Amanda – it was very informative and hopefully useful for a person considering an expat role!
AC – It has been my pleasure!
AER – Next week Amanda and I will be speaking about working at a remote mine site. Follow AER International on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for more news and insights.