Rise to Your Potential in Mining: Tips From an Old Hand

Often the best way to see how to get ahead in your career (or life in general) is to see how others have done it before you. Seeing the path that they followed, the successes and the failures, and how they turned things around, can make your journey so much easier and, perhaps, open up paths that you never thought possible.

This is where Dave Tomek comes in. We recently welcomed Dave to the FACE Contracting team as our new labour coordinator and Cobar branch manager.

As a way introducing him to the broader FACE community, Dave joined us on the Full Production podcast, where he shared with us how he overcame some early setbacks and found his place in mining, his progression up the mining ranks, and how he’s now using that skill set here at FACE to help others reach their potential in mining.

This article is too short for us to cover the whole of Dave’s story here. It’s best you have a listen to the podcast yourself. However, there were some really important thoughts and words of wisdom about achieving success in mining and reaching your potential that are worth reiterating.

Don’t Let Your Setbacks Define You

One of the big things I got from Dave is don’t let your setbacks define you. As Dave tells it himself, his first preference for a career was to join the army as a mechanic. However, in the eyes of the army at least, he’s as blind as a bat – thanks to a wonky left eye he’s had since birth.

Dave didn’t let this setback define him. He found work as a supermarket storeman. But as he says, “I had work, I had money coming in, but it wasn’t meaningful work. There was no real purpose to it.” After a bit of journey, he found that purpose in mining, and with the right mindset, he’s gone from strength to strength, from a nipper to diamond drilling and right up to shift boss at a large mine.

Develop Your People Skills

If you meet Dave, you’ll see he’s a natural at relating to people (or at least he is now). You don’t have to develop the skills of a talk show host, but developing the art of a good chat is going to take you a long way. How do you develop it? Well, it starts with that first conversation, listen, be open and see things through the other person’s eyes.

One of Dave’s great skills is his ability to relate to different personalities, and as shift boss, this enabled him to bring out the best in his team. It’s a skill that will take you far in any business.

Find Ways To Develop Your Skills

Taking the initiative and finding ways to develop your own skills is a great way of getting ahead in the mining game. This is something that has been a feature of Dave’s career. As he tells it, when he didn’t have much on, he’d approach his colleagues about getting some extra training. “I’m not an operator of each machine, but I knew enough about each of them to get into trouble,” Dave says, tongue in cheek. It certainly did his career no harm.  

Most of all learn from those who are doing it, and those who have gone before.

Don’t Be Afraid To Get Outside Help

Dave would be the first to tell you his career hasn’t all been roses. He’s gone through a fair bit of growth from a professional and personal point of view. But one particular point in his career, when faced with changing company ownership and redundancy, was particularly tough.

“I was in a bit of a dark spot myself. I really wasn’t enjoying work,” Dave says. It reached a point where he just said, “I need a change out of here. I wasn’t happy about going to work. I was sending off a toxic vibe, and that’s not good for anyone. I picked up on this. I wasn’t in a great headspace. I came home and I had a pretty in-depth conversation with the missus. I came home one day and said, no, I can’t do this anymore. Something has to change, or I’m going to go ‘round the bend.”

Dave identified that he needed a change. Financially things were okay, but he still needed something. “I went to seek some outside help. I’m not ashamed to say that. I went to seek some outside help, and it became evident I needed a change.” It was a change for the better, and one that led him here to work with us at FACE.

What this highlights is that being aware of how you are feeling mentally, as well physically, and perhaps seeking help, whether that’s psychological, medical, financial or whatever can save you a lot of heartache down the track and perhaps lead you to a great new opportunity.

You can hear the entire conversation with Dave Tomek here.