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Sandeep Biswas

With a mandate to maintain safe and stable operations in the mining industry, Sandeep Biswasworks diligently across many business development projects to make positive changes. Under his leadership he has increased the number of locals working in senior roles, increased the number of female managers and overhauled complex operations so they are running at full potential.

Sandeep has achieved incredible results at Newcrest since being appointed CEO in 2014. “You’ve got to be able to run a business where your people are safe—that’s rule number one. Going forward we want to continue our journey on safety, with a particular focus on process safety. It’s really upping the ante in sustainability leadership. We’ve released our new Climate Change Policy and are working towards making sustainability one of the things Newcrest is well known for.”

The safety-focused executive leader is also a big believer in diversity to drive a company’s success. “That’s a big push for us—cultural and gender diversity.” With different perspectives there is a better chance for a better solution. “That’s the most important driver for diversity in my view. That’s why it’s such a big platform with Newcrest—ranking with operations, the growth of the business and technology. Diversity is a really powerful business driver.”

Before embarking on his comprehensive career, Sandeep finished his chemical engineering degree at the University of Queensland. He then went to work at Mount Isa Mines in the technical area of process control. Taking the opportunity, Sandeep moved to Germany for work. However his decision was considered unpopular during the mid 80’s. “Everyone in Mount Isa advised me not to go to Germany.” These were the days when going overseas was unusual. Mount Isa was considered the centre of the mining universe and Germany was the outpost. “I took the opportunity and took the risk. It was absolutely the right thing to do.”

Returning to Australia Sandeep took more opportunities to work abroad and progressed his career in various leadership roles. After working in Germany again he went on to England and then to Montreal for five years to head up business development, major projects, mergers and acquisitions and research and development with various companies. “I had people in 20 different countries around the world and it was an incredible experience on an international scale.” In 2014 Sandeep joined Newcrest, first as Chief Operating Officer for several months, then as CEO in July 2014.

"We took the company from the brink of disaster to the success that it is today. We’ve made positive steps with the safety performance of the company, addressing fatalities and serious injuries. What we’ve done on safety at Newcrest has been one of the career highlights for me.”

Being a successful CEO takes a lot of hard work admits Sandeep. “You have to look at your organisation, the geopolitics of where you operate and the industry in which you operate, at a very holistic and strategic level.” He explains, “You have to be able to recognise the strengths, weaknesses and opportunities you have in your organisation. You build on your strengths and also focus on any areas of weakness where you can improve the performance of your company. It can be hugely exciting.”

Sandeep says he feels fortunate to be given the opportunity and the authority to “execute the plans I and the management team formulate.” He says, “There’s a sense of satisfaction when you hit the goals you want to. You see good things happening, people growing, taking their opportunities and developing their potential.”

St Peters helped Sandeep find his potential when he graduated in Year 12 at the end of 1978. “I was your maths/science person. My education at St Peters had a big influence on what I chose to do at university, which then went on to influence what I did in my life.”

He believes, “The fact the College was coeducational was a huge plus. It provided a much more balanced education while growing up.” At the time St Peters was a very “early mover” on computing. “I remember St Peters was one of the first schools in Queensland to get an actual computer and that gave a whole bunch of us an early insight into something that would take over the world.”

For current St Peters students Sandeep offers the same advice as he does to his own children. “Work hard and do your best. It’s simple advice but with any opportunity you’re given, no matter how hard it seems, or how menial or how inspiring, do it to the best of your ability and give it everything. Opportunities will come and when those opportunities come—grab them!”

This family man believes for students wishing to study engineering, it is an extremely rewarding career path. “Engineering underpins all of what happens in the world today, whether it’s solar power, whether it’s IT systems and infrastructure, whether it’s creating the metals or plastics or being involved in mining. The world is going to need more engineers rather than less. It’s a wonderful profession to be involved with and a very rewarding one.”

IRONBARK— A SEMINAL EXPERIENCE 

“I was the first batch to go as a formal part of the curriculum and that was a hugely inspiring and learning period for us all in Year 10. It was tremendous. It was so different and so new it had a profound influence on everyone.

“I remember you’d get up at the crack of dawn and go running in the freezing cold, go swimming in the dam and having to cook for yourselves, wash and clean for yourselves, study camping and hiking and all of that. It was certainly very different to how I’d been raised and to do it all yourself was an eye opener and I enjoyed every moment of it.”