EQ just as important as IQ engineer shares

Damian Connelly

Damian at the 2022 Golden Jubilee celebration

Damian Connelly is an engineer based in Perth, Western Australia. For the past 26 years he has worked as a consulting metallurgist for top mining, banking and engineering companies.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Adelaide in 1972, Damian returned to campus in 2022 to celebrate his Golden Jubilee  50 years since the conferral of his degree.

While back in his hometown of Adelaide, he made the time to reconnect with the University and share his story.

“I started my career with Rio Tinto in Broken Hill in 1973. I was fortunate to receive a Rio Tinto scholarship while studying,” Damian said.

“The scholarship provided funding to assist with living expenses. I also undertook part-time work whilst studying and undertook longer term work during the Christmas break on building sites in Adelaide."

In 1981, almost 10 years after graduating, Damian eagerly joined the Olympic Dam project in Adelaide as metallurgist for Western Mining Corporation.

It was life-changing, Damian shared, to be involved in a world-class project, one of the biggest copper uranium projects in the world, to develop the feasibility study.

“It was a definite career highlight. I had the chance to apply all my learnings on a massive, real-life project. It was fantastic working with people from different backgrounds and cultures,” Damian said.

“There was no trouble getting up in the morning. The culture was one of innovation and continuous improvement.”

Damian Connelly field trip

Awarding certificates to course attendees in Guyana, South America.

After a successful and rewarding career travelling the world and working with some of the biggest mining and engineering companies, Damian bravely left that all behind to take a risk.

“I decided to start up my own consultancy, Mineral Engineering and Technical Services, known in our industry as ‘METS’ in 1988.”

“I had a wife and two kids when I started my own business from our lounge room,” Damian said.

“It was absolutely the best decision I ever made in my life. You have to back yourself.”

METS operates globally and has worked extensively in Brazil, Chile, Argentina and China, Africa and Europe.

Reflecting on his career path and choice to start up his own business, taking risks and growing your EQ are Damian's top tips.

“I found out during psychometric testing that I’m actually a risk taker.”

Lifelong learning is important to Damian and something he encourages everyone to pursue if they want to excel in their careers.

“I got into areas I know nothing about, but I learn and become an expert in those areas by reading technical papers, researching, talking to others, attending conferences and on the job learning.”

Getting a degree, Damian said, is just the start. “It’s not just about IQ. EQ is equally important for career development.”

“You have to be good at marketing. You have to talk to people and relate otherwise they’re not going to give you work.”

For Damian, networking is so important: “engineering is a people business and communication is right up there."

The risk-taker said the “best investment you could ever make is in yourself, not a car, house et cetera.” He recommends investing in education and continuous learning.

“You’ll get big paybacks.”

Damian is offering mentoring and work experience opportunities to the University of Adelaide community. Please contact him on Damian.Connelly@METSEngineering.com or (+61 8) 9421 9000.

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