Chris Grif­fiths on why it could be time for a smart­watch

The Australian - The Deal - - Contents - PAUL GAR­VEY

Run­ning a busi­ness takes de­ter­mi­na­tion – and strat­egy. As man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Sir­ius Re­sources, Mark Ben­nett helped drive the dis­cov­ery of the Nova-Bollinger nickel dis­cov­ery in Western Aus­tralia’s Fraser Range, and built the com­pany into a $1.8 bil­lion heavy­weight at the time of its takeover. His new ex­plo­ration ven­ture, S2 Re­sources, is due to list on the Aus­tralian Se­cu­ri­ties Ex­change this month. He shared his thoughts on run­ning a re­sources com­pany in a re­cent speech to the WA min­ing Club. Some high­lights:

Don’t fol­low ev­ery­one else

Sir­ius es­chewed the leafy min­ing en­clave of West Perth and set up an of­fice in Bal­catta, an in­dus­trial area north of Perth. There were fewer dis­trac­tions, it was a lot cheaper and we could get to work more easily, but the sym­bol­ism was im­por­tant – we showed we were pur­su­ing our own course rather than fol­low­ing the herd, and peo­ple recog­nised that.

Struc­ture can get in the way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion

Rather than be like a big com­pany with a hi­er­ar­chi­cal or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture, ours was very, very open. We re­lied on good com­mu­ni­ca­tion and if you don’t re­ally know each other you can’t re­ally com­mu­ni­cate. You’ve got to have the strength of per­son­al­ity to say what you think and ar­gue with your boss about what you think is right. In many big com­pa­nies, peo­ple have good ideas but don’t have the cir­cum­stances or strength of per­son­al­ity to put it on the block and ar­gue the toss.

Wear what you want

We’re pretty re­laxed. We don’t have rules and reg­u­la­tions im­posed on us by oth­ers so we’re about sub­stance rather than style. Suits don’t make you more clever and high-vis­i­bil­ity gear doesn’t make you more safe; it’s what’s in­side that counts. In ex­plo­ration you need cre­ativ­ity, and if you take a lot of un­usual and cre­ative peo­ple and try to ham­mer them into a square hole, it’s not go­ing to work.

Ev­ery­one needs to be in­cen­tivised

Sir­ius em­ploy­ees all held shares in the com­pany. If you own some­thing you go about it dif­fer­ently to how you do it as an em­ployee.

Small is good

No-one wor­ries about what they’re called or how big their desk is or who is go­ing to get the next pro­mo­tion. Our of­fice is some­times quite an­ar­chic and a stranger walk­ing in wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily think there’s a lot of work go­ing on but there cer­tainly is. It’s not about quan­tity, it’s about qual­ity.

Re­mem­ber you’re spend­ing other peo­ple’s money

Be­cause we’re an ex­plo­ration com­pany we need to be aware that we’re spend­ing other peo­ple’s money, and that we spend it wisely. In all the time at Nova, from be­fore dis­cov­ery right through to the takeover, my tent was still there even when the min­ing camp was built. I slept in it when­ever I was out there, and as much as any­thing it was to re­mind peo­ple we weren’t al­ways what we were then.

Plan B is over­rated

Some­times, not hav­ing a plan B is a pretty good thing. If you don’t have a plan B, you have to make plan a work.

Mark Ben­nett

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