Wits to host two short courses to empower mining leaders

An image of Wits Mining Institute's Julie Courtnage

Wits Mining Institute course presenter Julie Courtnage

26th July 2021

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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The Wits Mining Institute (WMI) will be hosting two of its Empowering Leaders short courses, in a face-to-face format, from August 23 to 28.

The first course will focus on long-term systems thinking and planning in the minerals sector, equipping leaders with skills and insights to understand, anticipate and respond to the challenges of twenty-first-century mining, including the development of scenarios and strategies.

WMI course presenter Julie Courtnage highlights that South African mining culture is rooted in its historical context, with top-down management styles, linear thinking and insufficient flexibility or adaptability.

In presenting these courses, Courtnage shares her 30 years of experience as an environmental scientist and sustainable development practitioner in the mining sector. Her past roles have included safety, health and environment policy manager and sustainable development operations manager for diversified miner Anglo American.

She says the lack of flexibility limits the sector’s capacity to successfully meet the demands of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (Vuca) with sound strategic and operational decision-making.

“In volatile social and economic conditions like those experienced in the South African mining sector, it is vital to understand root causes when developing management strategies,” says Courtnage.

She adds that uncertainty arising from the national regulatory landscape and international commodity fluctuations also impact on management approaches.

WMI visiting professor Fred Cawood says that introducing technology into this environment poses challenges at all levels of leadership, complicating the sector’s advance into the twenty-first century.

He emphasises the need for minerals sector leaders to understand this global Vuca context and to develop skills to address longer-term issues and consequences.

“This short course will allow participants to engage with key topics such as the implications of Industry 4.0 for the minerals market, as well as mining in the circular economy and the growing social expectations of the sector,” says Cawood, adding that it will also highlight the importance of systems thinking in the mining industry.

The focus of the WMI’s second course, from October 4 to 8, will be on transformed leadership, concentrating on integrity, accountability and participatory engagement. The course will help delegates to understand leadership as an individual, within the context of their organisations and broader society.

“We will explore how self-awareness contributes to leadership, and the role of self-leadership in ethical decision-making and organisational performance. Leadership is about influence and change; so it is the leader who must change first,” says Courtnage.

Cawood emphasises that personal mastery is fundamental to a successful career, and that this course is about people getting the basics right, including ethics and personal value systems.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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