Regional Senior Vice President Alwyn Pretorius in his own words, in the second of a four-part series.
After many years in the industry, I joined Newmont two years ago and truly admire the culture of collaboration and engagement I’ve found here. I started my career as a miner and worked my way up the ranks. So I have a good appreciation of challenges in mining – what works and what doesn’t – and how to lead teams towards success.
I’ve always had a keen interest in science, particularly electrical engineering. That led to a scholarship offer from one of South Africa’s major gold companies to study mining engineering. I visited one of its underground mines before accepting the offer, and I liked the environment. So I took it and began working in the gold sector.
Since my first day in the industry, I’ve held leadership positions. Initially, as a stoping miner, I led 15 people from very diverse cultural backgrounds. They spoke different languages, had different levels of education. Regardless of race or background, we were all the same. In order to succeed and meet our goals, we needed each other. That initial job showed just how valuable each person is, and how important it is to respect each other, irrespective of personal differences.
Early leadership lessons taught me the value of mutual trust and how to motivate people – lessons that are just as applicable when leading a workforce of more than 5,000. It also taught me humility and the importance of health, safety and inclusion in the workforce.
“Our people want to be developed, to be empowered, to feel valued.”
In many ways, Newmont’s values – Safety, Integrity, Sustainability, Inclusion and Responsibility – are closely aligned with my personal values. They provide a foundation for safe work environments, and opportunities for all Newmont employees to achieve their daily goals. They also reflect how I want to live my life – in the workplace and outside of work, when nobody is watching.
At the end of the day, nothing can replace treating people with dignity and respect – offering help, providing support, having a compelling vision people can embrace. In my experience, most employees want more than money. They want to be developed, to be empowered, to feel valued. We’re doing just that in the Africa region, as our Global Engagement Survey results show.
That survey helped our region develop 12 key projects, organized around the themes of Trust and Speaking Up, Performance Culture and Development of Employees. Along with other initiatives, we are supporting our people, increasing productivity and seeing improved production and costs. Whether it’s our employee mentoring program or new semi-autonomous loaders at the Subika Underground project, we’re implementing a number of exciting innovative technologies.
Newmont has a bright future in Africa. It’s loaded with opportunities, and I’m proud to be helping realize those opportunities in a responsible, sustainable way.