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Andrew Hauser: Setting a workplace culture

 

The Alec Northover Award has been a bonus for Andrew Hauser after juggling the triple challenges of managing a quarry, undertaking professional education and raising a young family.

The Oxford Dictionary defines culture as “the beliefs and attitudes about something that people in a particular group or organisation share”. Yet this is only the tip of the iceberg for what culture means to the 2019 Alec Northover award winner Andrew Hauser. 

“The culture is the environment that surrounds us at work,” the 38-year-old told Quarry. “It’s a powerful element that shapes the work environment, the work relationships and the work process.

“But the culture is something you can’t actually see. It’s something that physically manifests in the workplace and the organisation’s culture is made up of the life experience each employee brings.”

Hauser is the most recent recipient of the Alec Northover award – an accolade he has brought to Barro Group’s Seymour Quarry where he now works as quarry manager.

“We are a basalt quarry, we are two-bench single flow and we supply aggregates and rock mixers to the industry,” he said. “This operation has been here for 20 years.”

Located about 100km out of Melbourne, Seymour Quarries has been extracting basalt for decades and was first purchased by Barro Group in 1964. The site has had several years of successful operations, and after working at Barro for almost 14 years, Hauser decided it was time for a change of pace. 

“With Barro, I started as a machine operator, so working through from the face to the sales,” he said. “I had a Certificate III in Civil Construction before I started.”

Hauser later worked as a quarry supervisor and decided to expand his knowledge in 2018 by studying a Diploma of Surface Operations Management. The diploma teaches students the necessary skills to manage an open cut quarry and for Hauser this meant an opportunity to expand his seasoned understanding of the industry.

“I wanted to expand my knowledge in all aspects of quarrying,” he said. “All the subjects and workload covered in the diploma set the bar to a level where I think the industry needs to be heading.”

TIME MANAGEMENT

For each month of the course, Hauser drove two hours from Seymour to study at Box Hill Institute, where he would stay for a week. Hauser would then return to Seymour Quarries to apply what he had learned to practical situations at the site. 

“I would travel to Melbourne and do my studies for the week,” he said. “And then you would get piled with all the work that needs to be done over the [next] month,” he said.

Leaving a patient family behind, Hauser said his biggest challenge was finding time to do anything besides study and work at
the quarry.  

“I had a very supportive family – and a very supportive wife,” he said. “On top of work, I was doing at least another 30 hours a week. Movie nights were out – but you see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Thankfully, it was all worth it. On the back of completing his diploma with straight A grades, Hauser went on to become the full-time quarry manager for Barro’s Seymour site in 2019. 

“I was employed as quarry manager in 2019,” he said. “Since then I’ve had the responsibility of implementing all the facets of the business. Things like managing our financial budgets, maintenance scheduling, managing major incidents and emergencies, implementing environmental plans, implementing the pit plans, side operations, stockpile management – yeah, lots.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to apply my knowledge and obtain in my studies a diploma, but also gain how policies and procedures are an important factor to support quarry operation and implementation.”

Hauser believes it has been a big jump from his previous role as a quarry supervisor. 

“Within the supervision role, I was more about following up on the implementation. I was moving from [a place of] supervision and overseeing the implementation to actually implementing the new procedures.”

Hauser’s advice to people undertaking similar diplomas and courses is simple: don’t procrastinate and know when to take a break.

“The first tip would be don’t procrastinate. If you delay the things that are coming, they’ll pile up and you’ll have more work in the end,” he said.

“Time management is very important. With the study and work balance, you’ve got to consider having a day off. For me, it just clears the head. Whether it’s going out to golf on a Sunday afternoon or something like that, it’s important just to clear your head and keep yourself grounded.

“All the family time had to get put on the back burner but my young kids were playing footy so my ‘out’ was on the Sunday morning – it was to get a coffee, go watch the kids play football, and talk to other parents – that’s how I got through it.”

TEAM CULTURE

Since becoming quarry manager, Hauser has taken on the role as a mentor where he encourages a team-orientated culture at Seymour. 

“A key aspect of Seymour’s environment is teamwork,” he said. “I like to mentor people during the day-to-day tasks they are faced with.”

Last year Hauser’s near perfect scores for his diploma granted him another opportunity – a nomination for the Alec Northover award. 

“Andrew has been able to put into practice in the workplace many of the competencies introduced,” said Barro’s quarry operations manager Victoria Craig Banthorpe in a statement for Hauser’s Alec Northover nomination. 

“The module ‘Manage People Performance’ has given Andrew the tools he required to manage the people at and connected to the site.”

In his own nomination statement, Hauser noted his excitement to make a difference in the industry as quarry manager. “My interests have always been in quarrying and to be in such a role where our team can make a difference to the industry has me excited to the possibilities,” he said.

And with that attitude, Hauser received the 2019 Alex Northover Award.

Hauser is planning to use the $2500 in prize money to further his studies.  

“I was happy, over the moon,” he said about receiving the award. “It was good to see that the hard work was acknowledged. I would say it’s a great recognition of your knowledge, the hard work and learning capabilities.”

Regardless of the award, Hauser was just happy to gain a new level of self-fulfilment. “It’s more of an award within myself,” he said. “When I was doing the studies, I wasn’t really aiming for the Alec Northover (Award) – I just wanted to set the bar for me. 

“For it to be at a standard where the Alec Northover award came into it, I was just blown away.”

ALEC NORTHOVER AWARD

The Alec Northover Training award (also referred to as the Alex Northover Award) acknowledges the best prepared portfolio of evidence given to a registered training organisation (RTO) by an applicant seeking recognition for the Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma programs in extractive surface operations or extractive industries management. Sponsored by the Australian Institute of Quarrying Education Foundation (AIQEF), the successful recipient is provided with a prize of $2500.

The AIQEF provides the three award finalists with a $2000 allowance catering for registration, accommodation and
travel expenses to attend the IQA’s national conference (where the award is presented).

During the second quarter of the year, the IQA asks RTOs to select one candidate for each qualification. The selected candidate must be a successful graduate within the 12 months prior to 30 June. All nominations must be submitted by 31 August in the prior year. 

A panel of judges assess the successful applications against specific criteria, including:

• Evidence that supports the competence of the applicant.

• Predominantly self-prepared evidence (some RTO assistance is allowed).

• An individual’s own knowledge and skills applied alongside the RTO assessment guide.

• A useful reference system.

• Mentioning company policies and procedures (except where the applicant has developed, implemented or revised them).

• Evidence that the applicant is committed to other learning and on-going learning.

• Testimonials from management, team members and third parties. 

 

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