For mining engineer Jane Brunton, the benefits of becoming Chartered were clear even before she achieved the qualification.
As a young engineer Jane Brunton, working at a small mining operation without a strong framework for on-the-job education, sometimes found that she struggled with professional development.
That’s when a senior colleague suggested she look at becoming a Chartered engineer.
“He brought up Chartered engineer status and used that framework as a learning tool in terms of guiding me on the experience that I [would] need to obtain,” Brunton, who is Manager, Strategy and Optimisation at BHP, told create.
“So I looked into it, and very soon found that to achieve Chartered status, these are the things that I needed to be able to demonstrate.”
From there, she was able to identify what areas she already had experience in, and also where she would need to develop her abilities — in project management for instance.
“I used the framework to guide my professional development conversation with my managers,” Brunton said.
“I approached my manager at the time to say, ‘Hey, I need this to be able to get to Chartered status. Is there a small project that I can manage end-to-end?’”
Today, Brunton manages a number of projects in her strategy and optimisation position at BHP. It is a role that allows her to combine her engineering expertise with her business mind, applying both to the company’s development of mining sites.
“My role in those projects is about framing that business case and guiding the team in the thinking that will ultimately lead to either [moving] to the next study phase or [moving] into execution,” she said.
“I’m not a technical expert in the plant design of a project … and I’m certainly not an expert in open-pit mining or major construction projects per se, but it is about bringing that holistic thinking to ask, ‘Why is this project important for the company at a time? What’s the context?’”
She sees herself as having to balance the engineer’s desire for technical perfection with the limits imposed by a project’s financial considerations.
“You might have, on paper, a really great technical solution, but in-context it might not make as much sense,” she said.
“And this context requires an understanding of the business side of things to have a full picture, because you’re no longer just chasing technical excellence.
“Sometimes you might have to deliberately give way on a bit of technical excellence just so that there is actually a project to keep going.”
Brunton’s tips for success
- Sometimes it’s better to pursue excellence on an existing project than to design something perfect that will never actually exist.
- Take calculated risks.
- If you want to achieve Chartered status, do not procrastinate.
Learn more about Chartered engineer status and eligibility requirements on the Engineers Australia website.