Willy Wilshaw: The Godfather of Engineering in Mining_Ep27 WASM Alumni Podcast
Follow the incredible journey of one of the original innovators of mining - Willy Wilshaw. A rare interview where he bares all.
With a $500 scholarship he started off his Mechanical Engineering journey in Kalgoorlie. He describes the courses as mining focused with courses heavily focusing on Mechanical, Electrical, Production, Electrical Engineering and drafting. Everything revolved around design work where you were industry ready.
He started off as a trades assistant on the ground floor. In the late 60's he got his break during the Nickel strikes where management put him in the drawing offices as a draftsman.
In the 70's he left Kalgoorlie on a journey of self discovery which took him across the continents to 80 countries. He recounts his experiences of apartheid in South Africa and the personal conflict he experienced at the way Africans were treated.
He goes on to discuss his return to Kambalda - where mechanisation started to emerge in the region. He describes his drawings for the Portal sets at the Otter Juan mine and the excitement of designing something new and using all his knowledge and how this creativity fuelled the rest of his engineering career. At the peak of his career, with WMC he had 14 mines, a processing plant, spray driers and a power station under his supervision as the Chief Engineer of Kambalda. They boy who started of as a trades assistant proved that anyone can make it to the top - and it those days it was possible.
Willy goes on to describe he atmosphere he created in his company to encourage creativity in his team - "Lets have a go and if it does not work out - we put it to bed". 99% of the time it works - but if it does not - they try and solve the problem. A concern for him being the new generation being too afraid of making mistakes to think creatively and add value for the future. He misses the freedoms that he had back in his younger day but understands why we have so many rules in place now and their importance.
With optimism for the industry of the future, Willy hopes that "old guys like him" are not pushed aside, and that they share their knowledge with the younger people and mentor them. He hopes that experience does not get washed away in the sands of time.
Who will be the Innovators of the digital age? We would love to know who's stories like Willy's will inspire so get in touch with us.
This episode was sponsored by our partners DaveyBikford Enaex
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