Updating Results


  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Erin Armstrong, Data Scientist


When I was finishing up my undergrad at uni and started working at South32, it was hard to ignore mining and tech stereotypes, although they never fazed me.

About Erin Armstrong, Perth

I was born and raised in the country so I have a love for nature and exploring the outdoors. When I’m not playing team sports on the weekend, you can find me hanging out with my parents on their farm.

An enjoyment for maths led me into data science in 2017. When I think about where I want my career to go, I’m grateful that the rapidly changing landscape of data and technology will allow me to continuously learn and grow in my current position as a data scientist for a while yet. I’m focused on developing my technical skills and knowledge for now but perhaps someday I’ll be interested in trying out a managerial role.

What I expected vs what I experienced

When I was finishing up my undergrad at uni and started working at South32, it was hard to ignore mining and tech stereotypes, although they never fazed me. I studied maths, which was male dominated, so I expected that to carry over into the workplace.

Initially, the team I was in were almost all males, but not for long. The gender imbalance quickly diminished after those early days and there has always been a diverse workforce in terms of nationality, religion, sexual orientation, race, age, ability and identity. Over the last five years of working for South32, I have seen diversity and inclusion become an inherent part of the culture, embraced by people and championed by leaders in the business.

Before I started in the grad program I knew very little about how large organisations functioned, but I expected work to be challenging yet rewarding. I also didn’t expect there to be much genuine care for the environment – I thought it was a box ticking exercise organisations did to satisfy government regulations and keep operating.

There was much to learn in my role with some big challenges, but the people I worked with were incredibly supportive and were always keen to help. Also, South32 really does care about producing commodities the world needs a sustainable way and I see that commitment across the business, in all the work we do. 

Who I worked with

I worked closely with like-minded people, who are passionate about using data, technology, maths, or statistics to create value for the business. There are operators, engineers, project managers, business analysts, technical specialists from a variety of areas. I also interact with a range of people, both at our offices and at our processing plants or mine sites. They’ve come from all walks of life and I love hearing about the roads they’ve travelled before arriving at the same place as me. 

How I worked during COVID

Fortunately, by 2020 I’d been around a few years and was comfortable working with my colleagues from a distance. Like a lot of the world, our workforce transitioned to working from home, with plenty of Microsoft Teams calls and chats and “you’re on mute’s”. As an introvert, it was an easy change for me. South32 has a flexi-work policy which means a lot of people now work both at home and in the office, which is great for me because I’ve been able to work more from the country.

Advice for future applicants

My advice for future applicants is nothing they haven’t heard before; be confident but not arrogant, indicate that you have personal interests but are passionate about the company’s values, be keen to learn and be honest if you don’t know something.

If you get the job, then invest in a good desk chair and do something outside every day. If there’s something you want to develop or experience at work, speak up – your line manager will help to arrange it. Also reach out to some colleagues for a coffee (or in my case, milo) one on one, to get to know them. It might take a while longer in a virtual environment, but it’s well worth it.