Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Coal Executive: Anything May Be

Michael Plain, Will Brown, Tiana Durbridge, Paige Conley and Gavin May at the Stratford mine site. Photo by Anne Keen

Warrane residents were told this week by coal industry executive, Mr Gavin May, that their future career paths would probably be determined by factors beyond their present knowledge or control.

Speaking on Wednesday, September 28, Mr May, who is Managing Director of the Australian-based Newland Resources Limited, said that much of his own career had been shaped by chance meetings and opportunities that he could have never predicted.

“In my whole career there has been no planning. You just do things and things happen. Someone you have met rings you and says that there is an opportunity here…

“I have been a manager, a marketing director, a chief executive – you get a basket of skills and things happen. It is pointless asking where you are going to be in five or ten years time – you just don’t know what is going to happen.”

Mr May has over 30 years experience as an executive in the coal industry both within Australian and overseas. He was formerly CEO of ASX listed Gloucester Coal Limited, a Director of Noble Resources Australia Limited and recently COO of Toronto and Hong Kong dual listed SouthGobi Resources Limited. Now based in Sydney, he heads a team that is developing coal resources on Newland’s extensive Bowen Basin tenement in Queensland.

He encouraged residents to concentrate on developing their skills as much as possible and taking a positive, constructive approach to whatever work they were involved in, adding that whatever they did, they should always strive to be ethical and honest.

Pointing out that many residents would hold leadership roles in the organisations that they entered, he said their attitudes would filter right through the organisation.

“The personality of the person at the top permeates down,” he said. “If you have someone at the top with the wrong attitudes it can be corrosive for the whole business.

“Always remember to treat people the way you want to be treated.”

Mr May, who has four children, also emphasised the importance of family life. He said he had met some of the richest people in the world and that some had “terrible family lives” and were obviously very unhappy. He said residents should do everything they could to be good role models for their children – someone that their children could look up to.

[Warrane College offers more than just accommodation to students at UNSW: Details of other guest speakers are available here]