Guidance for young mine surveyors

August 29th, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


Responding to a suggestion from final year BTech Mine Surveying students at the University of Johannesburg, head of department of minerals surveying, Hennie Grobler, arranged a panel discussion to address the students’ concerns, and provide them with advice and guidance as they prepare to enter the workforce. The panel of professionals included Institute of Mine Surveyors of South Africa (IMSSA) president Nape Mojapelo, surveying consultant Alex Bals, and AngloAmerican head of mining surveying and technical development, Mike Livingstone-Blevins.

IMSSA president Nape Mojapelo, Alex Bals, IMSSA secretary Verushka Bates, Mike Livingstone-Blevins, and Hennie Grobler.

IMSSA president Nape Mojapelo, Alex Bals, IMSSA administration manager Veruska Bates, Mike Livingstone-Blevins, and Hennie Grobler.

One of the students opened the discussion by raising concerns on behalf of his classmates. These concerns included the lack of industry mentorships; feeling at a technological disadvantage; lacking managerial skills; being uncertain of industry’s expectations of them; and feeling  uncomfortable at having to compete with surveyors who have received more practical training.

Mojapelo  spoke about the importance of continual learning and venturing beyond a specialised field, and said that IMSSA is in the process of setting up a program to offer continual learning to its members.  Livingstone-Blevins assured the students that they should not feel intimidated as industry doesn’t expect them to know everything. He stressed that understanding surveying principles is crucial, and that learning how to use technological tools is something that can come later. Being self-motivated and driven, he said, is more important than mentorships, as this helps individuals to stand out from the crowd and can lead to further opportunities.

Bals added that students should not be scared to explore opportunities in other parts of Africa, as these opportunities  can provide great experience. He also warned against rushing into management positions, saying that experience is developed over time, and there is no replacement for experience once in a managerial position.

During the discussion, it was pointed out that the role of the surveyor is changing, and the new generation of surveyors will determine the direction that the profession takes. The value of networking was also highlighted, particularly the advantages of getting involved with professional bodies. In line with this, the students were provided with the opportunity to sign up for  one year’s free membership of IMSSA, sponsored by the University of Johannesburg.


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