Full Name: Naomi Ayres
Position: Senior Rock Engineer
Company / Organisations: Impala Platinum
Date and Place of Birth: February, 1978
Education: MEng Rock Eng, CoMAREC, BSc Geology
First Job: Waitress, while I was still at school and studying.

Live and let live - Obviously without infringing on the rights of others. We are all unique with our own ideals and ways. Things are not always as they appear - to you.

Personal Best Achievement/s: Having a family of my own, which can be hard work and very rewarding.

Completing a MEng Degree. Reaching the career which I always dreamed of, but did not know I wanted.

Philosophy of Life: Live and let live - Obviously without infringing on the rights of others. We are all unique with our own ideals and ways. Things are not always as they appear - to you.

Don’t judge because you’re uninformed or don’t agree with the way that others do things. Interestingly this is juxtaposed to our work environment where, for the standards that we need to uphold on a daily basis, there is only right or wrong.

Favourite Food/Drink: Pizza, Coffee

Favourite Sport: Sky Diving

Live and let live - Obviously without infringing on the rights of others. We are all unique with our own ideals and ways. Things are not always as they appear - to you.

How did your career in the mining industry begin and where are you now?

From a young age I recognised a passion for the earth, tectonics, volcanism and with some romantic idea of spending days and nights in the bush, doing exploration from the back of a Landie, thus completed a Geology Degree. Pertinently, I indicated that I would never work on a mine (Never Say Never). I was fortunate enough to work in Geophysical exploration, spending con-siderable time in the bush, overseas and even on mines. Being invited to join the Geotechnical Department, I found myself working underground in a massive mine environment and was surprised to realise that I loved it. No, it not just a job. I joined Impala Platinum in 2010 , with the opportunity to work on a number of different shafts and projects.

Why did you choose Rock Engineering?

During my BSc., I majored in Engineering Geology, which I enjoyed and assumed I would one day find myself in the Civil indus-try. I was not aware of a career called Rock Engineer in mining, but I am grateful that the opportunity found me. I have been blessed to end up exactly where I am supposed to be.

Please tell us a bit more about your career journey?

I spent several years at Reeves Wireline undertaking down hole geophysical exploration. I joined De Beers, Finsch Mine in 2004 where I was exposed to massive mining methods such as Block Cave and Blast Hole Open Stoping. Here, I completed the Strata Control and Rock Engineering Certificates. I exchanged massive for tabular mining in 2006 when I joined Anglo Platinum at Amandelbult Mine as a Shaft Rock Engineer and I started my GDE studies through Wits. In 2010, I joined Impala Platinum where I have been exposed to various shafts and projects which included the open cast section. I managed to complete my MEng in 2012.

In 2014 I was elected to Chairperson of the SANIRE, Western Bushveld Branch which seemed like a daunting task. Together with a brilliant branch committee we saw improved interest and number of attendance at meetings. This was a fulfilling com-mitment as it challenged me in new ways and improved my ability to talk in front of people.

What are some areas that you believe will become of increasing importance in the near future of the Rock Engineering discipline?

The increasing demand that Rock Engineering become an auditing, compliance or ‘policing’ entity distracts from the tech-nical aspects of the discipline. Rock Engineering must ensure that is remains a technical discipline focused on good design principles. Further Strata Control training is required for production personnel to ensure they can deal with hazards ap-propriately and escalate the major hazards. Rock Engineering must be provided the time to do proper design, planning and continued research. Rock Engineers must be properly trained and mentored with exposure to different mining methods and commodities to gain well rounded experience.

Don’t judge because you’re uninformed or don’t agree with the way that others do things. Interestingly this is juxtaposed to our work environment where, for the standards that we need to uphold on a daily basis, there is only right or wrong.

What advice would you offer people aspiring to be in your position?

Family will be the most precious thing you ever have. Memories are made when time is spent together, memories will be all you have one day. Believe in yourself, you are stronger than you know. The only person who will limit the height you can reach, is you. Knowing full well that you can only get there with enough hard work, nothing worth achieving is easy. It is up to you. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Get involved, push yourself into taking opportunities that you think you may not be ready for, if you remain humble and are prepared to ask for help, you will find along the way there are numerous mentors who are willing to guide you before you fall. You only grow when outside your current boundaries. In mining: Never take things personally. It is always about the job, it’s not personal. Criticism: Good or bad, listen objectively, you can always learn from it.

Who is your role model / mentor?

I perceive all colleagues, seniors and peers as mentors. All interactions should be considered an opportunity to learn and grow both professionally and personally. With an open mind, you can even learn from those you don’t get along with. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all whom I have had the benefit of working with over the years. Since I started at Impala I have been fortunate to work with, Les Gardner, who has been a prudent mentor to me, as to the rest of the Rock Engineer-ing Department. His professional conduct and calm approach makes him a role model to all. It definitely needs mention that without his gentle persua-sions and reminders I possibly would not have completed my Masters De-gree.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My Grade 8 teacher provided the class with life advise: There is nothing in life that you can do or that can happen which is so bad, that it would justify giving up. Advice which I have turned to at different points in my life. A wise colleague told me: If you feel that way, it is time to get out. Don’t get stuck in a situation, there are always other options, decide what you want, move on and don’t look back. Do what is right for you and your family. Life may take you on the detour route, but there are better things to come, en-joy the journey.