Creating career pathways for technical experts
In many organisations, career progression means taking on responsibility for leading teams. But through our RioExcel programme, we offer our technical specialists an alternative career path – one where they can focus on building and sharing their expertise.
RioExcel is open to all technical experts in our business, and guides career development planning, recognition, and a challenging and rewarding path to progress within our company. Experts can apply to join the programme, and applications are assessed against five criteria: technical expertise, commercial and strategic outcomes, contribution to community knowledge, professional recognition as a thought leader, and living our values.
Brendan, our Head of Technical Excellence and leader of the RioExcel programme, explains how the programme supports career growth:
“With RioExcel, we’re looking for technical leadership and influencing skills. It’s not just about doing the work, but about bringing the organisation along on the journey and being able to pass on your knowledge to the next generation. There’s a structured process to how to assess the RioExperts, and it’s a rigorous process. Similar to the way science advances through a peer review process, the applications go to a senior assessment panel that reviews the information, benchmarks it to others in the organisation and then recognises them, if they’re successful, as a RioExpert.
“I remember having a conversation with someone, she was a young engineer, a world expert in her niche field. She was getting to the point where she couldn’t see much room for advancement. She’d done all she could do. When she was recognised as a RioExpert – almost the next day the phone started ringing because people knew what she had to offer. Suddenly she realised her horizons were much more vast. Getting to be part of that, and creating that opportunity, it’s been such a rewarding experience for me.
“It’s also been so fantastic to see when people come to the realisation of what collectively they can achieve as a community – because they’re multidisciplinary, they join forces and can solve really massive problems that had previously felt unsolvable – when I see the lights go on for people and they see what they can achieve together? It’s incredible.”
Our values – care, courage and curiosity – guide how we work and how we treat each other.
Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees and contractors.
Our goal is zero fatalities: we want everyone to return home safely at the end of the day, every day. That means not only our employees, but also our suppliers and local communities. We work to keep them safe and healthy by managing risks, promoting a safety-first culture, focusing more and more on health and using automation to remove people from high-risk work. We also believe safety does not begin and end at work and have taken steps to stop violence against women, with industry-leading programmes in Australia and North America to end family and domestic violence.
$50 million to attract, retain and support the development of Indigenous employees across Australia
- Changing our hiring practices by focusing on an Indigenous candidate’s potential, not their mining experience.
- Introducing a cultural onboarding programme to ensure leaders have the skills they need to support Indigenous employees.
- Pairing Indigenous employees with senior leaders and providing career coaching for employees while also developing leaders’ cultural competence.
- Supporting employees’ growth and development by identifying skill gaps and working with each employee to create a career plan, including further education.
- Growing cultural competency through cultural awareness training, and where possible, cultural immersion opportunities on Country or through working directly with Indigenous businesses and organisations.
Working at Rio Tinto
We produced the world's first certified responsible aluminium. We were the first mining company to embrace Indigenous peoples' land rights in Australia. And we created one of the world's biggest robots – and maybe one of the smallest. But we always want to do more.
Working at Rio Tinto means touching people’s lives: from exploring new materials to finding ways to tackle climate change. We value curiosity, creativity, innovation and hard work. We work in some of the most remote, beautiful places in the world – like the Northwest Territories in Canada and Weipa in Far North Queensland, Australia – as well as in major metropolitan hubs like Montreal, Perth, Brisbane and Singapore.
We know that work is changing and we must change too. We partner with governments and institutions to ensure that our people and communities have the skills they need throughout their careers.
In 2021, we announced a A$2.8 million, three-year partnership with Australian-owned “EdTech” business, The Careers Department, to extend their digital careers programme to more students throughout Australia. The Careers Department’s online programme provides a range of tools to help students make informed careers choices – from profiling to help students match their values and preferences with career options, to virtual tours that give a behind-the-scenes look at different jobs. The programme also helps students access training and development and virtual or in-person work experience opportunities too.
In 2019 we announced the Future Minds Accelerator programme, a A$10 million, four-year partnership focusing on skills for the digital future with leaders in Australia’s education and innovation sectors, including leading start-up accelerator BlueChilli and Amazon Web Services. In 2020, the programme engaged 100,000 Australian children, focusing on skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and automation. In addition, it provided training and professional development opportunities for 2,700 teachers and engaged more than 1,000 schools, helping drive interest in digital skills among students. The programme also helped the participating start-ups grow their businesses, creating 32 new jobs.
And in Western Australia, high school students are participating in the Certificate II in Autonomous Workplace Operations programme, the first nationally recognised automation qualification in Australia, which we launched in partnership with South Metropolitan TAFE (a technical and further education institution). The course, which launched in 2019, is designed to provide participants with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the resources industry of the future.