Mariel joined ATC Williams in January 2022 as leader of People and Culture. We discuss Mariel’s team approach to establishing the new role and how pathways for career growth need to be front and centre for all staff at ATC Williams.
Welcome Mariel, what’s it like to be defining a new role?
It’s to the company’s credit that the leadership team has identified the need for a people and culture role at this stage in its growth. ATC Williams already had sound practices in place. The groundwork is there already. My role is to foster and formalise what is there and promote emerging priorities. I’m working closely with our new CEO, Darren Watt, and existing CEO, Allan Watson to identify what’s needed to build the People and Culture team. We want to develop internal talent as much as possible first.
Where do you start?
My approach is to start with laying a strong foundation before building the house. We do that by asking a lot of questions to start. Are policies reflective and competitive within the industry? What’s there but needs expanding and formalising? What do people need? This last one is especially important post-covid.
How does people and culture deal with the ongoing impact of COVID-19?
Covid has highlighted the need for companies to advocate for good mental health and wellbeing. Our staff are often working on projects that require long hours and demanding time frames. We want to provide the support they need to do that work. I’m beginning with a lot of one-on-one check ins and follow up sessions initially. Later in the year, we’ll use engagement surveys to do a companywide health check to look at areas such as workload, support and resources.
What are the emerging priorities?
We’re formalising a one-on-one framework for career pathways and progression, beginning with a revamp of our onboarding and induction process. We want our staff to clearly identify an individual growth plan and trajectory, so the fundamentals need to be in place.
Part of this is implementing a formal parental leave policy. We’ve began that process with online focus groups with lots of discussion about what’s needed and ensure it is fit for purpose within the current ATC Williams landscape.
ATC Williams have defined a set of CARE values that hinge on the four values of commitment, agility, respect and excellence. These will be incorporated into the onboarding framework and code of conduct policies. I would like to see the CARE values integrated more throughout the employee experience.
Recruitment and talent acquisition is a priority too. ATC Williams delivers work that requires specialised skillsets. We’re looking at the employee experience from attraction all the way through to exit. Good policies and processes are key, along with initiatives that are linked and integrated. If and when people decide to leave, we want them to have had a positive, memorable and satisfying experience with us as part of their career journey.
What are your thoughts on encouraging more women leaders in the mining sector?
I am personally passionate about this subject, not just specifically in the mining sector, but across all industries and fields. Being a woman of colour myself, I have lived experiences of what it’s like to have to fight a little harder, advocate a little stronger for myself. From a people and culture perspective, women need to have opportunities and an environment in which they can speak up and be heard on what’s important in their work and for the wider business and the wider world. As an example, we need to ensure all our practices and terminology are inclusive. Our new parental leave policy is one of our first steps to ensure we are providing a supportive and inclusive working environment at ATC Williams.
In a sector where there are still too few women represented, I’m proud to have a seat at the leadership table as part of the executive team. More than that, I know that my voice as a woman and as a professional is welcome, encouraged and valued here at ATC Williams.
You can follow Mariel on Linkedin here