Home' HR Monthly : April 2018 Contents “Our value
proposition has always
been around melding the east
and the west together.”
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CULTURE AND CHANGE MANAGEMENT
ichelle Greenhalgh has some simple
advice for finding one’s footing on the
edge of an open-pit copper mine 4000
metres above sea level in the Peruvian A ndes.
“You just have to learn how to breathe,” she
says. “A nd not talk too much when walking
For a self-described exercise junkie, this
sounds manageable. But to help, Greenhalgh
kicks off the acclimatisation process at 3000m
with a 24-hour stopover in Cuzco, an hour’s
flight from Lima. Then it’s an eight-hour bus
ride to the Las Bambas copper mine. “Or
if you’re lucky, it’s 30 minutes on the most
beautiful chopper ride in the world,” she says.
It’s a trek Greenhalgh regularly takes as
mining company MMG’s general manager,
people and benefits, overseeing a global HR
function of 94 and a direct line of 20. As well
as Peru, MMG has mining operations in Laos
and the Democratic Republic of Congo. M MG’s
headquarters are in Melbourne, but it is 70 per
cent Chinese owned.
“Our value proposition has always been
around melding the east and the west together
and getting the synergy from that.”
MMG bought Las Bambas from Glencore Plc
for around $US7 billion in 2014. Greenhalgh
used the acquisition’s HR and integration
strategy as the case study for her Senior L eaders
Pathway to AHRI certification.
The mine was half built at the time of
acquisition, so the strategy was to go in with a
light touch rather than sweeping changes. The
priority was to listen, understand the existing
set-up and avoid delays to construction.
Las Bambas was completed in
early 2016. It has about
and 6500 contractors, mostly from the mine’s
Apurímac region and some from Lima. There’s a
further 100 people at MMG’s Lima office.
Managing Peru’s hierarchical culture is an
ongoing challenge. “It plays out in many ways
– bureaucracy, people not feeling empowered to
speak up, communication getting caught in too
many layers... down to silly things like people
delegating their printing,” says Greenhalgh.
Her team has been removing management
layers and encouraging employees to feel
comfortable speaking to leaders so they can do
their job well. Greenhalgh says senior managers
know they must tailor the way they listen to
employees to fit the culture of the country.
For example, Melbourne staff give candid
feedback to CEO Jerry Jiao during listening
sessions. Greenhalgh says this wouldn’t work in
Laos, where it’s preferable to discuss an issue as
a group, then nominate a spokesperson to give
On a recent visit to Las Bambas, a
conversation between Greenhalgh and the
operations manager showed how employees
were becoming more emboldened. “He proudly
told me one of his supervisors asked the
executive general manager if he could have a
‘career conversation’, which was unheard
Greenhalgh recalls the launch of MMG’s
video about company values at Las Bambas. The
values were displayed on a screen amid images
of big hearts, while A ndean music played and
employees cheered. “The miners were doing this
amazing funky dance on stage complete with a
light show,” she says.
Many might consider Greenhalgh’s
role daunting, but she says,
“where there’s a will,
Enabling cross-cultural understanding is a rewarding seam to mine for one HR professional.
there’s a way”. She had this in mind in 1988
when she landed in Australia from Manchester
as a backpacking graduate. “I had no intention of
going back,” she says.
Fast-forwarding 30 years, Greenhalgh reflected
on her career when considering certification.
She was initially sceptical about how it would
benefit her, given her proven experience and
various academic and professional qualifications
– including being a registered psychologist.
“My initial response was ‘Why on earth would
I undertake certification?’”
She was persuaded by the realisation that it
would benefit the profession and therefore give
her more credibility. “You look at HR, and
everyone thinks they can hang up their shingle
and be an expert in people,” she says.
Being a good role model for her company and
those coming through the ranks was a big factor.
“I’ve spent my career head down and bum up,
working hard,” she says. “You get to a point
where you think, ‘I’m still working hard, but I
can take a step back and help other people to
learn from what I’ve been through.’” •••
MICHELLE GREENHALGH FCPHR GENERAL MANAGER, PEOPLE AND BENEFITS, MMG
BY LAURA MCGEOCH
22/3/18 5:51 pm
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