Jeannette McGill, Vice President & GM, Metals & Mining , Aspen Technology

Jeannette McGill: An Embodiment of Integrity and Professionalism

As an inspiration to many people in the mining industry, Jeannette McGill is that leader who possesses a great deal of knowledge about the mining industry with an open-minded view on the world as a whole. Jeannette is a highly skilled geologist and mineral economist who competently handles a wide range of assessments, being the Vice President & GM, Metals & Mining for Aspen Technology with precision, detail, and judgement. Her achievements have revolutionized mining and women in mining around the world. She is a deep thinker always willing to share her knowledge with others, and pragmatically contributes to every discussion.

A Highly-Skilled Professional

Jeannette recently joined Aspen Technology to advance the company’s business strategy in the metals and mining sector and help companies access Aspen-Tech’s best-inclass asset optimization software. As a respected industry innovator, she began her career as a geologist working in various field roles, and contributing to the first 3D geological models, for both Anglovaal and AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa. Most recently, Jeannette was at Telstra where she spearheaded the last-mile of telecom capabilities, providing robust mission critical communications within production mines, which is critical for the digital transformation initiatives for those customers. Prior to Telstra, Jeannette was Head of Technology and Innovation for the Platinum division of Anglo American, where she was responsible for creating IP and innovative solutions for the division, including a combination of hardware, software, and services.

Glorious Accomplishments of the Career

While at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa Jeannette was sponsored to pursue her second master’s degree and Ph.D. in Colorado. When she graduated, and returned to South Africa she was promoted to lead the Centre for Mining Innovation – a public/private organization to promote innovation in the mining industry within South Africa.

Among Jeannette’s numerous achievements are becoming the second woman to be issued an underground blasting certificate in Orange Free State, South Africa and only the 4th female President of the 125 year old Geological Society of South Africa. Committed to life-long learning, Jeannette holds a Ph.D. in Economic Geology and an M.S. in Mineral Economics from the Colorado School of Mines, USA; an M.Sc. in Earth Science Practice and Management from the University of Pretoria, South Africa; a B.Sc. Honors from Rhodes University, South Africa, and a B.Sc. from the University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

A Goal-driven and Committed Team player

Talking about positive work culture, Jeannette says that positive work cultures underpin all high performing teams and organizations and can be developed and conversely, eroded, in so many ways. She opines that in a drive to support greater work-life balance, the need to value each employee’s individual needs is critical. At the same time, a positive culture needs to support rigorous conversation and debate that ensures the forward progression of the company.

At AspenTech, the driving force behind the company’s success has always been its people, all of whom share the qualities of passion, pride and aspiration. They all carry a passion to make a difference, pride in the value they bring to AspenTech customers and the resulting impact those customers have on the world, and aspiration to keep pushing the envelope, overcoming all hurdles, and challenging the status quo to continually find a better way.

Aspects of Digital Mining

Digital transformation can mean many things to everyone. In the mining sector, moving handwritten forms to an online capture system are almost more than some operators can handle; while at the opposite end of the spectrum remote operating center’s that support fleet functioning hundreds of km away remain integral to modern operations. Jeannette believes that every organization has an opportunity to assess their processes and workflows and understand what resource suitability and improvement is possible by incorporating digital adoption strategies. Being able to leverage digitalization and big data to solve problems, and maintain safety, is fundamental to success. For profitable mines, production availability is paramount. As we all know a downtime incident can result in missing production targets, lost tonnage, potential safety risks, and more.

In the opinion of Jeannette, when it comes to unplanned equipment downtime, there is value in being able to apply digitalization technologies to predict potential equipment failures in advance and receive insights to help guide the investigation of what has gone wrong.

Conquering Pandemic Challenges

Upon the impact of pandemic Jeannette mentions that the global pandemic has created a structural break and an increased reliance on technology. Prior to the pandemic, organizations and individuals knew what was possible but lacked the driving force for adoption. She says, “Consider how many people adjusted to online shopping during the pandemic, becoming more comfortable with that channel out of necessity. The impact on the mining market is similar where a mobile global and regional workforce can no longer service remote operations. Remote monitoring, sensors and AI have come into their own due to the impact on technology the pandemic has provided.”

An Excellent Understanding of the Synergies

According to Jeannette, the organization fabric that supports metals and mining globally is highly integrated. There is a need for synergies to be leveraged for greater impact as opposed to individual competitive silos. She provides that the future will be more open and collaborative around shared objectives. At the same time is ensuring shareholder growth and financial sustainability. She believes that developing the strategy for a new industry vertical requires thorough landscape mapping, and thus, it requires not only undertaking the current and future prognosis for all role players, but also balancing the need to simply create focus and impact.

Hands-on Experience

The mining sector has been exceptionally generous to her career. This is an acknowledgement that hard work is required and the resilience to spend some time on the working face. It is her production time and the respect earned from completing the necessary shifts to be issued a blasting certificate that has created the springboard for the rest of her career. Therefore, she believes that women aspiring to enter the sector should find an opportunity to gain technical experience and understanding, says Jeannette.