Perth Mining Innovation Roadshow Review: Linda O’Farrell, Group Manager – Fortescue People, Fortescue Metals Group
Implementing Innovation and Fostering New Solution Thinking
At Austmine’s recent Mining Innovation Roadshow in Perth a key theme was the importance of people in creating an innovative organisation. This was the central focus of Linda O’Farrell’s presentation on “Implementing Innovation and Fostering New Solution Thinking,” which explored embracing technology, empowering people and leading diversity.
FMG is celebrating 15 years in 2018 and their success during this period is largely due to the development of smart ideas and constantly striving to find a better way of doing things. Technology only works if people embrace it and FMG have fostered a culture open to innovation driven by their vision of “The safest, lowest cost, most profitable mining company.”
Linda pointed to achieving zero harm as FMG’s main goal of innovation and central to their safety culture is engaging with their people and listening to new ideas. A strong culture is also fostered through FMG’s belief of “looking out for your mates,” of which their employees carry with them during day-to-day operations.
FMG’s embrace of technology is demonstrated by a number of world class initiatives the business has established in recent years, including autonomous haulage and drills, relocatable conveyors, data analytics systems and processes, the remote integrated operations centres and purpose-built ore carriers.
Linda emphasised that the above successes would not have come to fruition without recognising the value of empowering employees to work differently, develop new skills and train up. A key aspect to their current training programs is enabling their workforce to understand and utilise autonomous technologies being rolled out on site. They are looking at the people who are most affected by autonomy and changing their apprentice approach to bring them on board. Transparency is also key and FMG aim to be upfront and provide opportunities for employees to be re-deployed.
Finally, Linda pointed to diversity as a key enabler of success and have implemented a number of practical initiatives to support diversity in the workplace. Linda stated that: “Diversity is not separate from the business and how you do things. You cannot switch diversity on or off on a whim,” demonstrating its important to FMG’s human resource strategy.
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