The Henry Lawson High School


I completed my HSC in 2011. After this, I decided the best option for me was to continue studying, so I enrolled at the University of Wollongong and graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Geology) in 2014. From here, my career took off pretty quickly. I was fortunate to have already earnt a scholarship during uni, which enabled me to secure a graduate role with the company for the 2015 intake. I relocated interstate to a small, isolated mining community where I had no friends, no family, no money, a little old VW, a HECS debt and just 21 years of ‘life experience’.

I found myself in an operation 20km long, up to 200m deep, with some machines bigger than small houses and trucks exceeding 300T. I supervised men who had been in the industry since well before I was born, I designed drilling programs worth more than I will earn in my entire career, and I published processing plans to produce more than 40,000T of saleable product per day.

I worked with brilliant technical minds, I continued to learn and improve every day, and I influenced others too. Since my graduate program, I have continued in the mine geology space across different sites, commodities and regions, taking me from the Whitsunday Islands to the Margaret River. I have pushed beyond the traditional scope of geological modelling and exploration into production planning, front-line production, processing and marketing.

I can honestly say I love my job and am genuinely excited about my career. As for what I would have done differently, I should start by admitting I never saw this coming.

The best advice I can give is to seek out positive role models, mentors who believe in your potential and sponsors who can unlock networks.

I am a strong believer in creating your own luck and actively seizing opportunities as they arise. Be open to challenges and grasp any chance with both hands, whether you saw it in your plan or not.

Finally, for any women considering ‘non-traditional’ roles or industries, there has never been a better time to go for it!

Thank you to THLHS for supporting my learning and development into adulthood, and for inviting me to share my story with you all. Cheers to small schools, rural communities and public education.

Emma Knowles.

Emma Knowles.