From Graduate Mining Engineer to Mining Superintendent
We recently caught up with UNSW Mining Engineering graduate Megan Kline, following her award at the WA Women in Resources Gala Breakfast. Here she talks about why she became a Mining Engineer and the highlights of her career to date.
Why did you choose to study Mining Engineering?
I grew up in Perth and having decided that engineering was a far better career option than medicine I spent a week in Kalgoorlie in my final year of school on the WASM “Focus on Mining” field trip, which is where my passion for mining started. The big trucks and explosives were the immediate reasons for pursuing a career in mining, but I also saw the opportunity for an exciting and challenging career. I do not like doing the same thing day in day out and mining certainly throws challenges at you every day!
Why did you choose UNSW over another university?
I wanted to get out of home, explore a new city and UNSW offered me a Co-op scholarship. I was also offered a scholarship to attend WASM but I decided Sydney would be a much more interesting place to live!
I also chose UNSW as it offered a broad teaching curriculum that encompassed both hard rock and coal, with industry expertise across both areas. This was important to me as I wanted to learn as much as possible about all the potential career paths in mining.
What difference did the Scholarship make to you?
My scholarship meant I did not have to rely on my parents to fund my living expenses. It was still not enough to cover rent and living so I worked in different jobs; McDonalds, café’s, tutoring. The Co-op scholarship was also excellent for enabling me to complete vacation work (industrial training) each summer. I worked in various places such as Lake Macquarie, Hunter Valley and Mount Isa, which lead me to an initial career in underground hard rock mining.
Can you name one or two highlights during your time at UNSW?
The first highlight was meeting my now husband Paul, we started dating in my final year. The second highlight was the amazing network of friends (and now colleagues) from UNSW, and other universities we met through the mining games. I keep in constant contact with this group and they are still some of my closest friends.
UNSW gave me the fundamental building blocks on how to be an engineer
Describe your career path since graduating?
I joined BHP Billiton on the graduate program in 2008 working at Cannington Underground Mine in QLD. I spent time working in varied engineering roles such as planning, drill and blast and completed my 12 months underground time. I was then offered a role at Nickel West’s Leinster Mine as a development engineer. In 2012, I took the big step of moving from underground mining to open-cut, taking a Supervisor’s role at the new BHP Billiton Jimblebar Mine.
At this time, I was the only female supervisor at the mine at the age of 25. In 2013, I was awarded my First Class Mine Manager’s Certificate of Competency. After supervising a team of over 40 operators, I was promoted to Superintendent of Mine Analysis and Improvement at the age of 28, leading a team of 18 people, with varied work such as managing the training requirements of 60 personnel onto the traineeship program and managing a budget of over $5m. In my current role, I am passionate about building my teams capabilities in the Analysis and Improvement area and my team currently have over $10m worth of cost savings in the improvement pipeline. I also fulfil the role of Alternate Quarry Manager.
How did your study at UNSW prepare you for your role in the industry?
UNSW gave me the fundamental building blocks on how to be an engineer – how to work through complex problems, apply creative solutions, listen to others and problem solve as a team and lead a team of people to a common goal.
What advice would you give a high school student considering Mining Engineering as a career?
Just go for it! There are so many challenging opportunities for Mining Engineer’s at the moment, the industry is progressing at an incredibly fast rate with new technologies and processes implemented regularly it is an exciting time to be a part of such an amazing industry.