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Navigating the Future: Fortescue's vision for a technologically advanced and inclusive workplace

Shelley Robertson, Chief Corporate Officer, Fortescue
13 Dec 2023 · 850 words, 3 min read
Within the ever-changing landscape of the global resources workforce, adaptation and innovation are not just desirable, they are essential for survival and success. As industries evolve and technology reshapes work, companies must respond, embracing change while fostering inclusivity and investing in their most valuable asset – their people. We recently caught up with Chief Corporate Officer Shelley Robertson from Fortescue, who believes in empowering their workforce to adapt and thrive in a rapidly transforming world.

Fortescue is a Signature Partner for AusIMM’s 2023 Thought Leadership Series. The theme, 'Sustainable Mining – Shifting the Paradigm' covered a range of topics including the future workforce, diversity and inclusion, and more. You can register here to receive all 4 webinars on demand.

Đăng ký bk8Liên kết đăng nhậpWhat are some of the ways your organisation is embracing opportunities in a world that is rapidly changing?

At the heart of Fortescue’s strategic direction lies a commitment to versatility. We recognise the value of transferrable skills and the diversity this brings to our workforce. I was drawn to Fortescue because it’s a values-driven, future focused business. We embrace people with skills from various fields because this enriches our company and ensures a wide array of experience. We also have a history of embracing change. Our adoption of an Autonomous Haulage Solution for mining a few years ago is a clear example. The transition was carefully managed so that our people were able to re-skill into other roles through a coordinated plan in which every employee retained employment. This proactive approach extends to the decarbonisation of our operations, a crucial step toward a sustainable future. For us, decarbonisation is not just an environmental necessity; it's a moral obligation. We are actively working to reduce our environmental footprint and contribute meaningfully to a greener tomorrow. This includes investing in cutting-edge technologies, and this is evident through Fortescue WAE developing world class zero emission power systems to support the decarbonisation of our mobile mining fleet. For us, our vision extends far beyond operational boundaries; it's about transforming lives and communities. For instance, we're committed to offering a pathway to a sustainable future, helping workers transition seamlessly into a future-focused workplace. We recognise that there will be people in other sectors who have great skills for companies like Fortescue and we welcome playing a positive role in the just transition away from fossil fuels. Harnessing the power of new technology is essential in optimising our operations and through technology, we’re not just reducing our impact, we’re setting new industry standards.

What are some of the ways you are looking to invest in the future workforce?

We understand that investing in the workforce is synonymous with investing in the company's future. Through in-house training, apprenticeship programs, and graduate pathways, we're cultivating the skills needed for tomorrow and our proactive approach ensures a seamless transition for workers, preparing them for a green economy. We’re putting ourselves in front of universities and high schools today, because we know that these bright young people will be the future of our business. We work with the communities in which we operate to offer skills and employment programs to ensure we will all thrive in our future.

When it comes to the future, how do you go about embracing uncertainty?

The future is inherently uncertain, but that doesn't deter us because we are predicting the unknown and making uncertain things certain by proactively preparing for challenges in both tactical and strategic ways. Identifying key roles and ensuring our trades remain relevant is pivotal. We're meticulous in managing new technologies, such as batteries in haul trucks, and staying ahead in the ever-evolving technological landscape. As a first-mover in decarbonising our operations, we hope to show industry that it’s possible to prepare for an uncertain future through upskilling and re-skilling our people so they are involved in the development of new technologies and solutions. Decarbonisation will drive opportunity across the business for our people and allow them to be at the heart of predicting what the future will look like.

What are some of the things you’re doing to make inclusivity and diversity a core focus for your team?

We believe in creating a workplace where everyone feels valued and empowered, designing workplaces with diversity in mind. This includes the creche facility at our Perth office, enabling working parents to balance family and work responsibilities and flexible work practices where it operationally allows. Inclusivity is not just a buzzword for us; it's a guiding principle that shapes our culture and makes us resilient in the face of change. We do this through empowering our leaders to care for their team members and give them the tools to make inclusive decisions in their day to day lives. As a global business, we can provide opportunities for people to work in different jurisdictions and learn from different cultures, while always ensuring strong respect for and understanding of First Nations Peoples. In Australia, we have a number of employment and development pathways for First Nations employees including apprenticeship and traineeship opportunities, as well as our Leadership Empowerment for Aboriginal People (LEAP) program, a 12-month comprehensive training program that includes offsite education, practical onsite development, internal mentoring, Fortescue Board exposure, First Nations leadership education and business leadership training.

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