Introducing Nicky da Silva who does our expatriate recruitment for the Mining industry in Africa. She recruits for technical and senior level positions such as Mine Engineer, Mine Manager, HSE Manager, Operations Director and Chief Operating Officer (COO) etc. I have conducted an interview with our expatriate recruitment consultant as a means to provide all of our mining job seekers with insight to the industry.

Tell us a bit about your background and how you landed up working in the field of expatriate recruitment?  I went to school and university in Cape Town and after completing my tertiary education I decided to give London a bash for my gap year and ended up staying for 7 years! Living in another country gave me invaluable work and life  experiences. Teaching as a career didn’t work out so I ended up working in an administrative role at the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) for 3 years. This introduced me to the world of Human Resources (HR) and Personnel. I then obtained a recognised HR certificate which allowed me to move into a hands-on HR support role with at BP UK. Being employed with a large corporation gave me insight into how international companies work . I was employed there for 3 years until my role was made redundant with the implementation of the SAP system. This gave me a great understanding of all aspects of personnel, and I soon realised that recruitment was my strength! I returned to South Africa (SA) with a goal and a dream to be the best HR professional I could.

What inspired you to get into expatriate recruitment? When I moved back to SA in 2009 and came across CA Global’s business, I thought this would be a good fit for me. Having had the exploration and geology exposure at BP coupled with the excellent UK HR knowledge and exposure to best practices, I took on a recruitment consultant role in the mining team. This role attracted me because of it’s Global and African footprint as well as the technical engineering discipline which I learnt to understand from my time in the Oil  & Gas industry.  I have been here for over 4 years now and haven’t looked back 

What qualifications and experience did you have to gain in order to establish yourself and therefore become a professional within the recruitment industry? I did a Bachelor of Arts in English and Geography at UCT, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Education (Teaching). I then completed a CIPD certificate in personnel in the UK (through Richmond College) part time.

As the leading mining recruitment company in Africa, where do you see CA Mining over the next 5 years? CA Mining is growing steadily, we have a strong team who are all discipline specific. As long as we continue developing the client relationships we have currently, we have the potential to bring on some big contracts and Recruitment Process Outsourcing’s (RPO’s) to increase our profit potential. Our brand is becoming very well known in the industry; we are recognised at conferences and our consultants are getting to know regular delegates and key players In the industry. We have always remained ethical and trust worthy which I feel will always put us in good stead amongst our competitors no matter what the markets do, CA Mining has a fantastic reputation which we have worked hard to earn and will continue to uphold. 

What is the most challenging aspect within expatriate recruitment? The vulnerability of our work on the markets coupled with tough competition. The fast paced environment and competition is sometimes rather daunting. Our lack of control over recruitment processes can sometimes be frustrating, the ever changing minds of decision makers and business goals encourages us to keep on our toes all the time.. Working on contingency can sometimes be risky, as our hard work is sometimes not recognised by clients and jobs are cancelled without warnings or compensation, but we continue to deliver no matter what the outcome.  

How do you manage and overcome these challenges? I think it is key to maintain constant communication with our clients and candidates at all times, keeping them up-to-date and checking in  constantly. Being ahead of the game and on the ball is key to this business. As a consultant, you need to be available on your cellphone 24/7 as working in an international market means being available at all times.

What has been the highlight of your expatriate recruitment career? Meeting and networking with exceptionally successful and senior mining professionals all over the world. Being directly involved in staffing a new mine in West Africa with 60 expatriates in one year and traveling to various cities in Australia, Canada and Europe to represent CA Mining, have all been career highlights of mine thus far.

Who is your role model and why?  Nelson Mandela is my role model; I find it incredible how one person made such an impact on the world with such modesty, humour and dignity.

What motivates you to work hard? Financial gain, recognition and job satisfaction.

What is your outlook for the expatriate recruitment mining industry over the next 5 years? I am hoping that the roller coaster will take a turn in the upward direction again. I hope the African continent will boom again and junior exploration companies find financing and resources to operate again, so that we can play an integral part in supplying human capital to these new and exciting projects.