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40 Under 40 winner of the day: Nima Sherpa

Business

South Australian-based BHP superintendent Nima Sherpa is trying to pave the way for more women to work in STEM-focused industries.

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In 2014, Sherpa moved from the US to Australia and began working as a chemical engineer for Heathgate Resources, the owner and operator of the Beverly and Beverly North uranium mines.

Three years later she joined the BHP Olympic Dam team as production superintendent.

Since then, she has led a team of 25 technical specialists producing copper, uranium, gold and silver while also studying for a PhD and Master of Science.

Outside work and study, Sherpa has volunteered for a number of organisations that aim to encourage diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), including STEM Sistas and STEM Mistas.

She said it was important for the resources sector’s future to talk to young people about the variety of pathways and opportunities in the industry.

Sherpa has also been involved in several committees, including as the SA Wimnet National Council representative, where she speaks about her struggles as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

By sharing her story, Sherpa said she hoped to help make the industry more socially inclusive.

As an advocate for women in the mining industry, Sherpa has been nominated for a number of awards and last year won the Minerals Council of Australia’s annual Exceptional Young Woman in Resources prize.

She backed this up in June when she was named in InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

To always be adaptable and open; the world continues to change, and being open to change and effectively adapting to those changes are essential to a successful career.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

The strengths of South Australia are plentiful but one important strength is that innovation and improvement is prioritised. This is critical for businesses who need logical, efficient and effective decision-making from state leaders. There is clear support for businesses in SA as well as low business costs and a varied and skilled workforce.

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

The weak point of conducting business in South Australia, and in Australia in general, is proximity to connected urbanised centres, as well as numbers of customers for businesses. For South Australia, I foresee rebranding as the innovation state, low cost in living in comparison to other states, and high quality of life will improve this going forward. With a smaller population and community of businesses, the challenge also lies in speed of execution, which means leveraging networks, partnerships, talent and connections… Continuous improvement and evolution is important for any business to remain competitive.

Do you see your future in South Australia? 

I certainly see an exciting future in South Australia that attracts me. I’ve lived in very different countries and experienced many cultures throughout my travels, but South Australia will always be a home base and I’m invested in its success.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

Continue on the path of innovation, push towards globalisation and connection, infrastructure, and growth. By increasing the connections in a business world that is so global, continuing to invest in technological and modern solutions and support for new ideas, South Australia will encourage young leaders to stay.

To see the full list of 40 winners go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

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