Resources veteran pays it forward by sharing her success
She won an award for her work in creating more flexible and inclusive workplaces in the resources sector, so it was almost a reflex action that Jo Best decided to ‘pay it forward’ and donate the major prize to a colleague.
With a Master of Business Administration already under her belt, the Hastings Deering engineering and customer support executive manager won a prestigious Queensland Resources Council award last year.
The Exceptional Woman in Queensland Resources title came with a $32,000 professional development scholarship awarded by the Australian Institute of Management.
In the spirit of promoting diversity and the objective of the annual Women in Mining International Women’s Day award, the 25-year resources veteran decided to ‘re-gift’ the scholarship to all female colleagues across the Hastings Deering network.
“Education is a gift and provides foundational capability for life, career and ongoing learning,” Ms Best said.
“We had participation from all corners of our territory – Weipa, Darwin, Mackay, Toowoomba, Mt Isa and Brisbane. Women at multiple levels of their careers, across many different functions. All demonstrated a passion for learning and growth, a desire to advance themselves and Hastings Deering.
“The calibre of the applicants was so great we were also able to announce a joint scholarship between Hastings Deering and AIM for a 12-month Graduate Certificate in Business Administration.”
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In the spirit of everyone being a winner, the remaining applicants have been offered study assistance along with increased mentoring with ‘leader career dating’ where they spend 10 minutes in a one-on-one session with up to 10 leaders within the organisation and from then choose one to spend further time with.
Continuous Improvement project manager Melissa Jorgensen, who divides her time between Rockhampton and Mackay’s Hastings Deering’s workshops, will use the MBA to add to her Bachelor of Learning Management and says the opportunity will change the trajectory of her career.
“I’m a huge believer and advocate that you never stop learning,” she said.
“So, I fully appreciate I’m about to embark on one of the greatest periods of personal and professional growth.
“My career aspiration is to become a master black belt in Lean Six Sigma so studying an MBA will exponentially accelerate that journey.”
In her own career journey, Ms Best was the first person to negotiate a job-share arrangement in a senior role at one organisation, which led the way for others to better manage career and family commitments.
While at Hastings Deering she has also developed a program to drive flexibility, diversity and inclusion.
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For both Ms Jorgensen and recruitment advisor Carly Jeffries, the winner of the graduate certificate, the scholarship donation showed Ms Best’s commitment was not just company rhetoric.
“I thought that it truly was an incredible gesture from Jo and shows how passionate she is about the flexibility and inclusion program,” Ms Jorgensen said.
“At a time when her personal achievement was being recognised, she was thinking about others, which gives you a small indication about the leader she is.
“During my interview, I spoke about how I am conscious of being a strong role model for my daughter and son.
“I know you can tell your children they can do whatever they put their minds to, but to actually live it and be that example is another thing.
“I’m mindful that what they see me do and achieve as a female and mother will influence their expectations of careers and family.
“This also crosses over into my work life at Hastings Deering.
“Being located in the Mackay business centre and not head office, we have many females new to the industry who are embarking on their working life journey.
“I came into the business at an administrative level, progressing over the past seven years to project management level.
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“I would like to think my career journey could show them they can pursue a career without having to be located in a major city.
“By no means do I think I’m a role model but I’m aware that how I conduct myself and my journey may inspire the next generation of females in our industry.”
Ms Jeffries, who project manages the company’s annual apprentice and graduate recruitment campaigns, credits her late brother Daniel, with mentoring her on career development and the courage to make changes.
“Losing my brother taught me resilience,” she said.
“Life does not stop, you move forward, or you get left behind. You make your own way and with the right support there really is no limit to what you can achieve.”