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Professional practice showcase: Five minutes with Bernice Campbell

ยท 1100 words, 5 min read

The AusIMM Bulletin sat down with Bernice Campbell (pictured), Executive - Clients and Strategy at WSP, to learn more about her role in the resources sector and get her insights on mining consultancy strategy, the energy transition, and being skilled in multiple professional disciplines.


Tell us about your career journey – how did you arrive at your current role?

I’ve had a diverse and non-conventional career. After lacking career clarity at the end of school, I completed a commerce degree. I’ve always had a strong interest in environmental management and the Australian mining industry, so at the end of my degree I completed an Honours thesis on the topic. I worked for state government in environmental strategy, policy and management, then a move to the Hunter Valley gave me a start in environmental consulting in mining.

To suit family dynamics, I ventured into communications and marketing, setting up my own small business for a few years. Then returned to the consulting world with WSP about five years ago when an old colleague called to entice me back. I love my role, it allows me to pull together all the tangents of my career including mining, environment/sustainability and the marketing/business development side.

What does your day-to-day work look like? What projects are you currently focused on?

In my role I look after strategy and clients across our national mining business. That means understanding and ensuring our business is aligned and well-placed to help our clients solve current and upcoming challenges. Current challenges for clients include the energy transition, decarbonisation, planning for the closure of coal mining assets and the ramp up of green metals, minerals and rare earth projects in a sustainable manner.

A lot of these challenges require balancing the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) pillars in decision making. This requires bringing together broad and varied capability to provide holistic support.

Essentially, I’m a connector in our business, so spend a lot of time in meetings building understanding of and strategising how we can best help our clients solve and address industry issues. This is done on a number of levels from an industry perspective, client point of view and down to very specific projects/opportunities so we can bring our best people and best solutions.

You mention energy transition and decarbonisation as current key industry challenges – how are these impacting the industry?

Decarbonisation is driving momentous change within the mining industry and beyond.

At one end of the spectrum, we are seeing pressure on the coal sector, and at the other end there’s an imminent need to vastly expand the mining of green metals, minerals and rare earths required to provide new energy solutions and achieve net zero aspirations.

The mining industry though carries a large emissions footprint. The attainment of a net zero economy will require a shift to net zero mining, coupled with the sustainable and responsible expansion of the mining industry to minimise environmental, economic and social impacts.

This transition is pushing miners to challenge traditional mining paradigms and find more sustainable ways to shape their operations to responsibly support both the growth in the metals sector and the shift of focus away from the coal sector.

Positively, we‘re seeing miners embrace the net zero challenge, setting aspirational net zero targets and implement tangible solutions to reduce their emissions footprint. The Australian mining industry is recognising the opportunities in transition, and is leading the charge in accountability and the race to decarbonisation through embracing solutions that present sound commercial and ESG outcomes. This is particularly the case around renewable energy solutions and increasingly a circular economy approach.

Successful transition will require many sectors and stakeholders working together to achieve the quantum of change required and because of this, we are beginning to see more balanced and sustainable mining operations with improved environmental and social outcomes.

Your CV includes commerce and environmental degrees, as well as marketing/communications roles. How have these different disciplines helped you throughout your career – does it help you see projects from different perspectives?

Diversity in my career and education has helped me to figure out ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. Upon reflection, it feels like I have meandered through a lot of my career, rather than deliberately steering it, which isn’t a bad thing. Being open to new experiences and opportunities has enabled me to gather some diverse skills and experience in a number of contexts. All of which have enabled me to develop a robust basket of skills, knowledge and perspectives to apply to my current role.

Underpinning it all, and driving my career, have been several themes which have always captured my interest – strategic thinking, environment/sustainability, engagement and connection and above all personal and professional growth.

My passion for the Australian mining industry grew out of an in-depth study during an HSC Economics subject and falling for a mining engineering student around the same time (who later became my husband). I’ve lived in the Hunter mining community for decades and have been surrounded by mining-oriented folk for longer. Living, working and raising a family in a mining community is a strong motivator to want to see the best possible economic, environmental and social outcomes from mining operations.

Further to this, my background in environmental consulting, studies in sustainability, and experience in marketing and communications largely influences the strategy and agenda I drive through work and with our clients, whilst strongly aligning with the industry’s desire to improve ESG outcomes.

How might we encourage more young people (particularly women) into careers in the resources sector? Do you have any words of advice for those looking to build a career in mining?

Mining increasingly faces a challenge around recruitment. Because of this the opportunities for rapid, rewarding and interesting career development pathways are ripe. Since my university days, my social circle has consisted of the mining leaders of the future (i.e. mining engineering students). Now 20ish years later these friends (both male and female) are some of the most influential and innovative leaders in the sector, particularly the women.

Over the years I’ve observed a significant increase in women working in the sector. A lot of this is due to the recognition that diversity brings significant business benefits, and companies actively support this.

I think to build a career in the industry, the best advice I can give, is to bring your authentic self. Women and young people bring fresh and valued perspectives, approaches and ideas. Bring these with confidence to challenge the norm. Take on the wise advice and guidance of your trusted leaders and mentors. Be solutions-focused and proactive. Good people will always be valued and supported, despite some of the logistical challenges that mining brings.

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