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Case Study: Clyde Leys

Personal details
Degree:BSc Honours Geology Profile picture
School(s): School of Geography and Geosciences
Year of Graduation:Jun-1979
National of: United Kingdom
Employment details
Organisation: Freeport McMoRan Inc
Job title: Mineral Exploration Technical Support Manager
Occupational Sector: Geology
What has been your route to getting your current position?
I got a PhD at Leeds University then started work as a mineral exploration field geologist in Portugal with BP Minerals in 1983. After working with them for 6 years in Portugal and Spain I worked for a junior mining company as senior exploration geologist in North Wales before joining Rio Tinto as an Information Geologist in 1992. I transferred to a UK-based senior exploration geologist position with Rio Tinto Exploration Project Evaluation Division in 1995, which focused on mineral projects in the former Soviet Union. In 1996 I was seconded to Freeport McMoRan Inc in Papua, Indonesia exploration team as part of their joint venture with Rio Tinto. After transferring to Freeport McMoRan in 2000 I have held a number of increasingly senior exploration technical and managerial positions based in Papua, Indonesia.
What does your job involve ?
Management of a team of geologists and support crews who carry out detailed logging and sampling of all of Freeport Indonesia's drill-core. I also supervise applied geologic research programs that provide technical input to exploration projects. Additionally I provide geologic assistance to mining and other company projects and train and mentor young geologists to develop their technical and supervisory skills.
What are the best bits of your job ?
Providing efficient geologic support to company exploration and other projects, helping to solve technical problems within my areas of expertise, close interaction with academic and consultant geologists involved in company projects and training/mentoring company geologists.
Why were you successful?
Work experience is the most important factor in my career, also the desire to learn more and to apply this knowledge to company projects. Networks developed during my career also proved important when I wanted to transfer to other positions within the same company or move to another company. My teamwork skills have been critical in my career, since exploration is all about effective interaction with colleagues. Other attributes that have contributed to my being successful are being flexible, accepting challenges, learning from others and from mistakes and having effective communication skills, the latter involving a lot more listening than talking!
What skills/ knowledge from your degree have you found particularly helpful in this role?
Good grounding in fundamental geologic processes and products, knowledge of minerals and rocks and how they form, understanding of field and lab-related geologic methods and the ability to speak and write clearly and concisely about these to peers, supervisors and laymen.
What advice would you give to students wishing to follow the same path?
Be ready for lots of travel, often to remote places where facilities and comforts are basic. Be ready to live wherever the job takes you, and perhaps never live/work in the UK or Western countries but see this as something positive. Enjoy the outdoor life as mineral exploration geology is predominantly a field-based activity with subsidiary office work, especially in the early career stages. Respect other cultures and beliefs and be prepared to learn from them. Above all have a positive and flexible attitude and always support the team in any way. Don't expect regular work hours especially in the field, don't expect everyone to speak English and don't be stressed by the often unstructured and unpredictable way that exploration projects develop. This career is not for people who like routine and sitting at a desk with their computer!