Updating Results


  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees

Aileen Van

The South32 graduate program facilitates well rounded development by exposing us to numerous facets of the business.

Where did you grow up? Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born and raised in Adelaide, where I entered Marryatville High School as part of the Specialist Music Program scholarship. I coached and played tennis competitively. During this time, I also had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Asia. 

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it? 

I prepared myself for this position by completing my engineering degree and two vacation programs. I’ve been with South32 for just under a year. 

How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

After I came to terms with my tennis career coming to an end, I needed a plan B. I decided to pursue my interests, which revolved around mechanics and sustainability. In all honesty, I did not consider alternatives as I recognised that my strengths were closely aligned with my passions.

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

As I was based in a different state, my interview was conducted via a Skype video call. I was interviewed by a panel consisting of technical and hiring managers. The questions they asked varied, with a focus on interpersonal and professional experiences.

What does your employer do?

South32 is a globally diversified mining and metals company. We produce bauxite, alumina, aluminium, energy and metallurgical coal, manganese, nickel, silver, lead and zinc at our operations in Australia, Southern Africa and South America. We are also the owner of a high grade zinc, lead and silver development option in North America and have several partnerships with junior explorers with a focus on base metals. 

What are your areas of responsibility?

In my current rotation, I am responsible for the maintenance and reliability of five facilities within the clarification process of alumina. Previously, I was project lead for capital improvements within the Asset Management team.

Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?

My typical work day commences at 5.00 am with a fresh cup of coffee before my carpool arrives. A 6.15 am our swipe through the turnstiles is often greeted by kangaroos as we make our way to the main office. My routine is highly dynamic and dependent on current priorities. Field inspections, engineering reports and technical queries are fundamental responsibilities of my role.

What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here? 

The South32 graduate program facilitates well rounded development by exposing us to numerous facets of the business. This adequately prepares us for both technical and leadership positions.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

As the position is highly technical, it would be challenging for someone with a different background to pursue this type of position.

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

I would be pursuing videography. I find the intricacies and subtleties involved with telling a story through this art form to be both stimulating and inspiring.

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most?

I love the variability and dynamic nature of my job. Seeing my contributions implemented and the quantifiable impact it has on the business is the most rewarding aspect.

What’s the biggest limitation of your job?

With sufficient motivation, I believe the opportunities are limitless. 

Do you bear a lot of responsibility?

Yes, as the technical point of contact, the reliability of our equipment is ultimately dependent on our decisions. 

Do you have to work on weekends? 

As the refinery is a 24-hour operation, weekend duty is a potential. 

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?

  • Partake in extracurricular activities. Although they may not be degree or career related, the skills and experiences [you gain] will translate across your personal and professional life.
  • Ask questions. You can learn something from everyone if you approach them with an open mind.
  • Know the company. I encourage you to seek out an organisation whose values align with your own.