Leadership & Communication | Mining & Resources

How to make the transition from miner to industry consultant: Q&A with Richard Stockwell

22 Apr 2015, by Informa Australia

Richard Stockwell is the Managing Director of Hornet Drilling and Geological Services, a professional consultancy with a specialist drilling capability. He is a Geologist with 18 years of experience in base metals, gold and most significantly in mineral sands. Geology has been a lifelong passion of Richard’s having grown up in a region of very complex basement geology and the location of the first mineral sands mined in Western Australia.

Hornet Drilling Logo

He commenced his geology career as a mature age student with RGC in their Graduate Traineeship, migrated into Goldfields Limited and then resigned to go to Iluka Resources in 2000. At Iluka Resources, he started as a contract geologist and was the WA Exploration and Drilling Division Manager when he left the company in 2013.

“Whilst at Iluka, I was challenged with all aspects of exploration: PFS, DFS, mining and managing up to four drill rigs and drill teams – in essence it was a long but very appropriate apprenticeship for my role as MD at Hornet Drilling and Geological Services Pty Ltd (Hornet).

Richard Stockwell 1
Image credit: Hornet Drilling

“Much of what I now regard as some of the most important lessons for owning and managing Hornet were learned growing up and working for many years in the Agricultural industry. Understanding machines, problem solving, time management and fiscal restraint were all lessons I learned from my parents and other farmers I was contracted by. Importantly, I also learned what constitutes a hard day’s work; I still keep my shearing handpiece in my office as a reminder,” Richard says.

Hornet Drilling and Geological Services has been operating for just over two years now and in this article, Richard shares some insights on his experience getting Hornet Drilling off the ground when he made the career transition to consultancy.

“Importantly, I also learned what constitutes a hard day’s work; I still keep my shearing handpiece in my office as a reminder.”

How did you get your business and expertise known?

Word of mouth is by far the most effective form of advertising although we do use the mining review intermittently. I was also fortunate to have many industry contacts who were happy to take us on, both for drilling and our broader geological services from target generation and field logging to resource estimation.

What are the challenges that have come up and how did you overcome them?

Very few really and I guess this is a result of my understanding of the business from my previous experience. However, as our drilling and geological service capability expands I do face the challenge of maintaining our impeccable safety and quality record. At these times, it is imperative to engage the appropriate industry expert.

My other constant challenge is reconciling my time as a Principal Geologist and MD – fortunately I have association with many geology professionals and skilled drill personnel I can call upon to maintain the integrity and quality of the Hornet product.

How do you get the most from conferences or networking events?

Be present, enthusiastic and involved. Do not try to sell your product too hard, no one likes a hawker.

Image credit: Hornet DrillingCan you give us your top 3 tips for someone considering setting up their own consultancy in the mining sector?

– Be very sure of your market and be prepared to offer something different to, or better than what is already out there. Competition is fierce so you need to distinguish your brand or product.
– There is still no substitute for hard work.
– Be honest with your clients about your capability and with your professional opinion – you’re not being paid just to say yes.

We thank Richard for taking time off his busy schedule to participate in this interview and wish him all the best going forward.

“It has been a wonderful journey turning this passion into a career and having the support of my wife Helen throughout the journey,” Richard concluded.

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