Diversity & Inclusion

BHP Technology Return to Work Program: Employee stories

Return to the program Overview page. Hear from employees at BHP The BHP Technology Return to Work program offers experienced individuals a smooth transition back to work after a career break. A range of team members in the BHP Technology business share their stories on flexible work, part time work, being a working parent, restarting...Read More »

Hear from employees at BHP

The BHP Technology Return to Work program offers experienced individuals a smooth transition back to work after a career break.

A range of team members in the BHP Technology business share their stories on flexible work, part time work, being a working parent, restarting their career at BHP and being a carer.

A new start, a young family and an MBA: How Salua does it all with BHP’s support

Salua Mrad – Specialist Dev Program Agile Delivery,

For me, flexibility and career development are extremely important. After having a career break, I thought I was going to have to sacrifice one of those.”

When Salua ended her professional career to start a family, she wasn’t sure an employer would welcome her. So, she enrolled in an MBA, not giving much thought to whether she’d go back to work.

But then an opportunity came up that completely shifted her outlook.

When BHP’s first Technical Entry Program launched, Salua jumped at the opportunity. It was just what she was looking for from an employer, given her circumstances.

BHP had always been Salua’s first choice and for good reason. “BHP strongly invests in its employees and takes social impact seriously”.

She said BHP set her mind at ease from the very first interaction. They made it clear they’d support her with the flex to enjoy time with her young family whilst finishing her MBA.

And that was just the start.

BHP’s support filtered through every stage of Salua’s journey. It was obvious during the onboarding process, which Salua describes as one of the best of her career. It was there through the coaching, mentoring and buddy support she received in her first 6 months. And inherent in BHP’s friendly, supportive culture.

BHP supports flexibility. They support parents, encouraging them to be there for family. They support each other. And they support the wider community looking to return to work. It’s a deeply ingrained level of support that starts at the top.

BHP gives priority to what’s important to me, allowing me to organise my schedule around my life, rather than the other way around.”

For Salua, this looks like working from home if it suits her better. Alternate work hours to take care of her family during the day. And the freedom to take days off for family events and her MBA commitments.

Salua loves the balance she has achieved since returning to work. She’d never have considered it was possible until joining BHP. Which is why she encourages other return-to-workers to follow suit.

Don’t be afraid to apply. There are a wide range of opportunities to suit any background and a support network for you to develop your career at your own pace.”

What’s more, “you don’t have to choose between family or career. You’re free to prioritise what matters to you.”

Juggling being a first time mum and supporting her child’s recovery

Melanie Hoh – Specialist User Experience

Having been with BHP for around 8 years, and taken maternity leave twice Melanie knows exactly what it’s like returning to work after parental leave and juggling having children with work. Having joined BHP as part of their SAP rollout, Melanie worked in the Risk Management area as a Business Analyst before taking her first maternity leave and then returning to work in BHP’s newly formed User Experience team. Now as a User Experience Specialist in Technology, Melanie helps project teams understand the needs and values of users, who will be adopting new technology tools as part of their daily work.

I really enjoy learning about new parts of the business and talking to people about what they do for work. It is fulfilling to know I can contribute to making their job better in the future, by being able to share their struggles and areas for improvement back to project team.

Melanie first took maternity leave, after my first child, having been with BHP for around 2 years. She returned back to work full time and strong support from her manager to work flexibly. For Melanie this meant starting the day earlier and finishing earlier so that she could drop and pick up her child at childcare, as well as working from home 1 day a week. At the time Melanie was also joining and helping to set up a new team so things were always busy. Unfortunately her first child was suffering from a number of health issues which required additional support. However the flexibility Melanie had with her work allowed her to not only juggle being a first time mum, and support my child’s recovery but to continue to work and pick up a new skillset.

Four years later, Melanie took maternity leave for her second child. This time she returned back to work on a part time basis. She says:

Although I returned to work into a new team, my manager and colleagues were all very supportive to my 2.5 day schedule. Having returned to work during Covid and remote working being the norm, I am able to schedule my work day and meetings around picking the kids up from childcare/primary school, and after school activities. My managers at BHP have all been understanding of my work schedule and what I can and can’t commit to, and I have always felt valued as an employee, whether I worked full time or part time.

Working part time remotely, Melanie starts work around 8am, then breaks between 1-2pm for school pickups, and back to work from 2-6pm. Like every job, she finds some weeks are better than others, and some weeks she occasionally works in the evenings or on days she may not be not scheduled to work. However, she says she feels comfortable to push back on the workload if she feels she’s not able to keep up with thing and has regular 1:1’s catch-ups with her manager.

I feel so grateful to be working at BHP. My managers, HR, and colleagues have all been so understanding whenever I have requested for extended maternity leave and a part time work schedule. I always felt safe to speak up to ask for time off, and also to come back to work with a schedule that works for me and my family. Having children has changed my priorities in life, but BHP has been there to support me through this and I continue to feel that the work I do is valued.

As Melanie sees it, people, family and safety come first. She sees this demonstrated across BHP at all levels, where others can step in or teams can be flexible whenever a colleague needs to take time off for urgent family matters. She finds everyone is encouraged to always put people and safety first at work and this carries through to home.

Return to the program Overview page.

Returning after a career break & starting at BHP

Laura Finlayson – Inclusion and Diversity Specialist (Technology)

A year ago Laura was on parental leave for 2 and a half years from her previous role at a major WA University. In that time, she’d had two children, so the idea of returning to work at a new employer with a 7-month-old and a 1.5-year-old was very daunting.

My biggest concern was finding the right life-work balance as I was worried that my intensive drive to succeed in my professional career would very quickly result in burnout as I attempted to juggle my new role as a mother at home also.

Laura says her onboarding experience at BHP was incredibly supportive, with her direct report recognising the importance of allowing her to return to a flexible working arrangement.

I was offered regular check-ins and mentoring, along with a very supportive team environment that allowed me a safe space to ask for help and direction when required. This ‘open-arm’ support has been pivotal in my success at BHP so far. 

In her role, Laura works within Technology at BHP, delivering internal programs as directed largely by the Inclusion and Diversity Committee. She works across several teams to deliver a range of short- and long-term projects relating to employee experience and education with responsibilities including project delivery and coordination, program writing and development and outcome analysis.

Every day in my role is different, however, I’m always focused on the user experience and ensuring that BHP continues to be an amazing place to work.

Delivering programs that educate, upskill, and motivate employees Laura has worked on several important projects including the Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Training for leaders and, Inclusion Habits and Career Accelerator training for high potential employees. More recently, she’s been involved in the development of a Diversity Program at BHP supporting 150+ women to enter the mining industry of which Laura is the Technology Lead and responsible for delivering the program design.

It’s a very exciting project that I am proud to be part of. I enjoy working with people to enhance their day-to-day working experience and this role gives me great flexibility to do so. I’m motivated daily by the great feedback I receive on the work that I deliver, both from my supportive line leader and from my broader team. At BHP there are so many opportunities to advance your career and I’ve been lucky enough to work across a range of teams and be exposed to many aspects of the business. In doing so I’ve built an extensive internal network and I’m using this discover professional interests within the business.

Outside of work Laura is an avid sewing enthusiast, having descended from a line of dressmakers and tailors.

My grandmother once held the position of embroidering the royal crest on official robes for the Queen of England! When I have a rare moment to myself, I enjoy channelling my creative energy in garment design and construction. Living in such a fast-paced world, it’s incredibly satisfying to be slowed by the concentration needed to complete a garment. 

It’s clear that having flexibility in her role helps Laura achieve at work and have time for family and passion projects like sewing, with her team having always supported her flexible working arrangement.

On commencement I was able to negotiate a 3-day working week with flexible start/finish business hours to suit childcare arrangements. Six months into my contract, I was then able to open up a conversation and renegotiate an increase to a 4-day working week. My line leader has always had a focus on performance and project outcomes rather than working hours, so I am given autonomy to manage my time accordingly. This has been of huge benefit to maintaining a work life balance. Currently, all non-essential BHP employees are working from home, so along with flexible ways of working, regular team check-ins and a great collaboration culture has become our current normal.

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Moving from full time to part time to take on a carer role

Carole Harte – Specialist DevOps

As a Business Analyst (BA) in Technology, Carole acts as a liaison between the business and IT to guide the business in ways to improve their processes and systems, engaging with IT to deliver an efficient solution that meets the business needs. In her work Carole engages with people who come from different backgrounds and cultures who have a range of different skills. Hence good communication and interpersonal skills are essential for the job along with facilitation and analytical thinking.

I love the variety of work and the people I get to meet. Being such a large organisation I’ve had the opportunity to work across different domains from engineering to safety to environment and I’m constantly learning about different areas of the business and meeting new people.

Around 3 years ago Carole requested to move from a full-time role to a part-time role because her partner who has MS was becoming more disabled and in need of more support. Her manager and next level manager accepted her request without any question and were very understanding of Carole’s needs to support her mental health.

Working part-time has allowed me to support my partner for 3 days and to be able to focus better on my work during the 4 days at work.

Carole works the same 4 days each week and schedules her work around that. The biggest challenge she finds is not to take on too much work or more than is achievable in a 4 day week. Of course there are some situations at times where she may need to check in at work or attend a meeting on her day off but these are the exception. Carole says she’s happy to do this because she values the opportunity to work part-time so much. Even after moving teams a couple of times since her part time work arrangement began, Carole has found her managers and team members continue to support her.

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“I can be 100% at work when I’m at work and 100% mum when I am not”

Integrated Global Operations – Female Employee 

I am part of the governance team that administers the Change Control process in Technology. My team is responsible for Changes that impact BHP technology globally.
As part of this work I liaise closely with the Change Control Process Owner and provide communications and OCM (organisational change management) support where needed.

I love being able to share my knowledge and skills to enhance the capabilities of others. When I can teach someone something new or suggest another way of working, or turn out a really useful communication piece I feel a great sense of achievement. I too love to learn new things and have a role where I am learning every day.

I started work in the PMO (Project Management Office) managing finances and supporting Project Managers with their budgets and forecasts. From there I moved through a number of different projects at the same time upskilling my Project Management and OCM skills which have led me to my current role in Operations.

I took two career breaks, after the birth of my twins and then my youngest a few years later (although I wasn’t working for BHP at the time). When I started at BHP my manager allowed me to split my contracted hours across a number of days so I was available for the morning school run. My main concerns where that my children weren’t in childcare (or before AND after school care) constantly. I have maintained a 3 day work week as it suits my work-life balance perfectly.

I currently work a 3 day week in my team and have responsibilities that I can manage and complete during that time. I am included in all team chats and meeting invites and any meetings I can’t attend are recorded so I can choose to listen in as required. Typically I don’t tune in on my ‘off’ days and have a team who are not shy in telling me to ‘go away’ if they see me logged on when I shouldn’t be! I have previously worked in a job-share situation too.

This organisation really to practice what they preach when it comes to flex working. To have the ability and trust to work from home and/or work outside ‘mainstream’ business hours makes that work life balance so much easier to achieve. I feel I can be 100% at work when I’m at work and 100% mum when I am not.

Although I have often found it necessary to set clear boundaries about how working part time actually works when joining new teams, once those boundaries are set I have found each and every one of my teams and managers have been supportive and respectful of those boundaries. I feel supported when I say ‘this isn’t working well’ as well as when I report back ‘this is great!

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