The Interview: Karyn Parker senior exploration geologist,Poseidon Nickel
Explain to readers what exactly it is you do?
My role as a Senior Exploration Geologist involves leading and managing exploration activities with the aim of finding nickel deposits. The job is a varied one that involves planning and executing exploration programs using geological data.
This allows me to be creative and apply new ideas as well as use the latest scientific theories to locate deposits. This also takes me into the field to manage and supervise drilling programs and teams.
Our current focus is drilling out the Black Swan Disseminated deposit to update our resources with the aim to bring the mine back into production. I am overseeing this drilling in the open pit and the production of the resource estimate. In conjunction with this, I am planning exploration drilling on our project called Lake Johnston.
Here there is little drilling on an ultramafic belt (the rocks that host Nickel) that runs through our ground. This is an exciting program with historic nickel mines in the area. The team has come up with a new geological model and an exciting theory to test.
Life as a geologist…tell us about it?
Life as a geologist is different every day. This ranges from working in the field doing manual tasks and camping in swags to high-level thinking in the Perth office. The lifestyle is unique with time spent living in fly camps in the bush for weeks on end, working in mining camps on FIFO rosters, and also living in towns like Kalgoorlie and Norseman.
One thing for sure is that it takes you places you would not ordinarily go to. Life as a Geologist has taken me throughout the Goldfields and WA, from as far south as Esperance, to the Pilbara in the North.
It has also provided opportunities to work and visit mines overseas. I have spent time mapping in Lapland, Finland, and been on field trips to Sudbury, Canada, and the Kola Peninsula, Russia. The role takes a certain type of person to spend time away from loved ones and friends but provides so many opportunities to see new places.
What are the main challenges in your work?
The biggest challenge to being an Exploration Geologist is the continual cycles the industry goes through and having to be highly adaptive and flexible. Economic cycles affect commodity prices and the level of investment in exploration. This can result in having to switch from one commodity to another, or in a downturn having to look for other employment.
When I started my career there were hundreds of ads for Geologists and I was constantly employed for 15 years. After the birth of my second son, the market took a major downturn. It was a difficult time to find work. I decided to go back to university and completed a Grad Dip in Education.
For the next 7 years, I taught secondary high school which worked well with having a young family. Now my kids are older, I have been able to re-enter the industry and the demand for geologists is stronger than ever.
*What is most satisfying for you to do?
Being an Exploration Geologist can be very rewarding. The most rewarding part of the job would be making a discovery and seeing it develop into a mine.
However, other aspects of the job are satisfying. For me, this is planning a program and implementing it. This starts with identifying a target, working out the best way to test it, organising the logistics to accomplish this, and examining the results. It is seeing a project from start to finish and opening alternative pathways from there. To do this I get to collaborate with a range of professionals and learn from a range of experts.
*Are attitudes between men and women working together changing?
Yes, I believe the attitudes between men and women working together are changing, gradually. There is still work to be done to achieve gender equality in the workplace. However, there has been a significant shift in attitudes toward gender roles and women’s participation in the workforce over the past few decades.
I have seen a general increase in the number of women holding key roles within Mining and Exploration companies. More recently, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and companies have recognised the value that women can bring to the workplace. Overall, while there is still progress to be made, attitudes are changing and there are more opportunities out there.
What has been the most rewarding project you have undertaken?
There have been many rewarding projects undertaken in my career, but my most rewarding is not work-related. My most rewarding project is to watch my two teenage boys flourish, push themselves to try new experiences, and strive ahead. We have recently moved towns, which has been a little unsettling.
I hope the experiences we have given our boys as children have made them stronger and able to take on the challenges of life. I guess, it is every parent’s hope that they raise capable independent humans, who are responsible, and kind young men, capable of making their own decisions.
I have been very lucky to have found myself an amazing partner and together we support each other to chase our own passions. Without him, I would not be able to have both a career and a wonderful family.
Who or what inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my Dad. He is always there for me and listens without judgment, providing level-headed advice. This is what inspires me, as he can assess all angles of a challenge and provide a fair and just solution. He has a knack of doing this by guiding you to find the answer yourself.
He not only does this for me, others gravitate to his calm and rational nature, seeking advice which he is receptive to and all with a sense of humour.
My favourite quote is from Dr Seuss. He has so many, but my favourite would be:
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
We are always learning and on a journey. By keeping an open mind you never know where you might end up.
I have just finished the autobiography, The happiest Refugee by Ahn Do. I enjoy reading about other people’s stories and the challenges they have met in their lives and how they have dealt with and overcome them. It amazes me what some people have had to deal with in their lives, yet have such an optimistic view of life. The book highlights the importance of family, community, and the kindness of strangers in helping individuals and families overcome difficult circumstances.