Addressing the challenges faced by women on their career path and facilitating career progression

We interviewed Michelle Lawson, Financial Controller of Glencore ahead of her appearance at IMARC Online. Michelle has been championing diversity through the WIMNet NSW’s Mentoring Program; which is what she will cover during IMARC Online this November.

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“Sustainable mining practices, distributed leadership and decision making, technology integration, automation & robotics, artificial intelligence, diversity & inclusion – these are some key things young people can look forward to when joining the mining and resources industry,” said Michelle Lawson, Financial Controller of Glencore, in her address to audiences at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) in 2019.

Coming from a non-mining background to the boardroom, Michelle shared with us her experiences since 1998. Not only is Michelle now Director of multiple companies within the Glencore group, she is also Chair of Women in Mining NSW.

In this important role, Michelle has been championing diversity through the WIMNet NSW’s Mentoring Program; which is what she will cover during IMARC Online this November.

“The WIMnet NSW Mentoring Program aims to develop a structured, sustainable mentoring process that supports female mentees through career guidance and direction in a traditionally male-dominated industry,” Michelle said.

“I will be interviewing both a mentor and mentee of the program during this interview at IMARC Online. Some questions include, why they applied for the program, what impact it has had on their career or life, and what valuable insights and learnings have enhanced their role as a leader in their organisation.”

We asked Michelle what she thinks makes the WIMnet NSW Mentoring Program successful, and how she sees it most benefiting industry? Her response was, “In-house mentoring exists in some companies but at the time of introduction of the Program, it was rare in mid to junior companies.”

“We believe it can also be difficult to confide in someone from the same organisation, particularly on interpersonal challenges. Hence, our Committee determined an external mentoring program, where the mentor has no connection to the mentee’s employer or place of work, would achieve the best outcomes.”

“In reviewing leadership programs then on offer, the Committee found most options were pitched for women aiming to move to C-suite or board positions, with few addressing the challenges faced at other career path phases and facilitating career progression,” she said. “We agreed that the program should target all women working in the resources sector, regardless of length of service, location or sector, to improve female representation at all levels.”

“In addition, what sets us apart is that a Registered Organisational Psychologist expertly matches our mentees with a mentor (volunteer female or male leader from the resources industry) and that person provides separate training to both mentees and mentors before they embark on the five-month formal structured program.”

As Chair of a women in mining group, we asked Michelle what she has seen as the most significant change in industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

“Diversity and inclusion has definitely improved over the last two decades, but we still have a way to go. It has been great to see recent change over the last few years within AusIMM and IMARC in this space,” Michelle said. “Marvellous opportunities like our Mentoring Program provide women with the strength to further encourage progression and development within the mining and minerals sector.”

“I believe diversity is not only important for individuals but also for our businesses. I’m fortunate to work for an organisation like Glencore, where diversity is encouraged. I hope that events like IMARC and programs such as the WIMnet NSW Mentoring Program continue to grow and thrive so that women gain confidence to put themselves out there, grab prospects as they arise and turn challenges into opportunities.”

In joining the IMARC Online program this year, Michelle cited that “IMARC 2019 was a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals within the industry and to share ideas and experiences.”

“ I enjoyed presenting to the next generation, in the hope that I give motivation to others, by showing that with a bit of effort and determination and the willingness to help, you can reach any target you put your mind to, no matter what background or gender you are,” she said.

Michelle will be interviewing BHP, General Manager of Mt Arthur Coal, Adam Lancey and Sedgman’s CHPP Manager of Mount Pleasant Operations, Megan Kropp about mentorship on Tuesday 24 November, measuring the benefits of WIMNet NSW’s mentoring program in championing diversity. This presentation is just one of the presentations within the Collaboration, Engagement & Sustainability sessions at IMARC Online.

IMARC Online runs from 24-27 November and this year, for the first time ever, attendees can access the conference presentations for free. Claim your free expo and content pass here.

 For further information please visit

Mining Beacon

Community Manager, Mining Beacon