Paving the Way

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Renata Roberts has moved from strength to strength throughout her career, now adding the Exceptional Woman in NSW Mining award to her long list of achievements.

Renata Roberts grew up in Ballarat, Victoria before her mining ‘gypsy’ life started. It was where she met her now husband Neil, who she has been with since they were just 15 years of age, and started on the wide-ranging journey that has made her the inspiring and passionate leader she is today.

Since 2012 Renata has held the position of Chief Corporate Services Officer of The Bloomfield Group, where she is responsible for safety and health, human resources and industrial relations, IT, contractor and audit management, training and competency and systems across the group. It’s a huge role, but Renata says she has an amazing team who make it an absolute joy to come to work each day.

But it’s been quite the adventure getting to where she is today. Not really knowing what she wanted to do for a profession, Renata did a double degree in Psychology and Education, and majored in Mathematics. This led her to a teaching role at a school in the suburbs of Victoria. “I was 21 years of age, teaching Year 11 and Year 12 students who were all taller than me,” Renata chuckled. “After quickly realising I wasn’t that thrilled with Year 10 boys Math classes after lunch on a Friday, I got a role in recruitment.”

Not too long into that role, Renata was then given the opportunity for an entry level HR position for a mining and smelting company called Pasminco. There started, in 2002, her career in mining.

“From that moment, I never anticipated the steep learning curve I would have within the HR profession as I had exposure to a huge number of different projects and responsibilities,” said Renata.

With the drive, passion and commitment to self-development that Renata has shown from the moment she began in the industry, it’s clear to see why she has been named this year’s Exceptional Woman in NSW Mining. “After 18 years in the industry, that recognition is just sensational,” said Renata.

Renata set her sights on obtaining her first leadership role before she turned 30, and she technically achieved that the day before her 30th birthday. “I remember getting the phone call from my new future General Manager the day before I was 30 when I was out celebrating in the Melbourne city nightlife…so I got it BEFORE I was 30,” Renata said.

The internal transfer from the Corporate Office in Melbourne saw her move into a HR Manager’s role at the underground zinc mine in a small community in Tasmania. “My husband and I packed up the dog and cat and we moved to Tasmania to live in the same street as all the other members of the management team just near the mine site,” Renata shared.

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Renata Roberts and her husband Neil throughout the years.

“I remember driving into the small town with my husband who was seeing his new “home” for the first time that rainy Sunday afternoon before I started on Monday.”

The opportunity then arose for Renata to take an expatriate role in Tennessee, USA. So, she packed up the cat and dog again and with her supportive husband by her side started as the HR and Community Manager for a business that had just purchased 6 underground zinc mines.

Unsurprisingly, Renata thrived in this role, establishing and integrating new systems and procedures and building a consistent culture across two locations with one management team. Doing it all while living in a whole new country and adapting to their ways of doing things, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, but this only saw Renata work harder. “I remember having to write a policy against deer hunting during crib time…not one I had in the toolkit of policies that I could refer to for guidance, and not one I could just check in with my networks on what they had,” she laughed.

When it was time for Renata to come back home to Australia, this time the family relocated to Newcastle, NSW. Now after 8 years in the Hunter with the Bloomfield Group, Renata is proud to call it home, with her husband and her little 4-year-old miracle man, Jackson.

“He is our miracle because after having had first stages of ovarian cancer at 24 years of age they said it would be unlikely that I would be able to have children, but through perseverance with IVF here in Newcastle…we had success on what we said was our last attempt,” said Renata.

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Renata’s son and little miracle Jackson Roberts.

“For Neil and I, having a child was something we talked about often and if we were able, we wanted to grow our family. But I struggled with the thought that if I slowed down to have a family, I would fall off the challenging path I was taking in my ambition to advance my career; I thought that one little person or more would interfere with those plans.

“This mindset created new challenges that we were lucky to overcome when little Jackson grew our family and our hearts.”

For this reason, Renata wishes there were more role models to look to when she was younger. She now speaks openly about her experience of balancing family and career so that professionals know that you can have a family while advancing in your career – you don’t have to choose.

Whilst Renata has had many influences and lots of support during her career journey, she says her husband Neil has been her biggest support from the very beginning. The pride Neil shows for his wife and her career is beyond admirable. “Renata is proof and inspiration that you can maintain and continue to grow a career, continue learning, developing and contributing to industry, all while overcoming life’s challenges and sustaining a young family,” said Neil.

With the support of the Bloomfield Chairman and CEO, Renata has recently started actively looking for an external Board position, so that she can contribute more broadly to the areas she loves and is passionate about including mining, education or something associated with mental health. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this exceptional leader.

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