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Brian Hurley and Keith Parry 

by Ross ElliottBoard Member at Regional Development Australia (Shared as part of the Australian Leadership Project)

Brian Hurley and Keith Parry led parts of WMC at a time when WMC was emerging from being a second tier mining company to a significant company in world terms.

Both Brian and Keith were inclusive and by that I mean listened to ideas and observations from people at all levels of the organisation and actually visited the “coal face” so to speak. So they were not afraid to accept criticism of themselves and adjust their behaviour or thinking. As a result others around them felt that they could use the same modus operandi.

Things were moving quickly and world markets were expanding, particularly for nickel. As a result, operations were becoming of a larger scale. 

Both were prepared, on the balance of advice to have a go. That does not imply that they were risk takers or gamblers, but were prepared to act on the balance of the advice that they had. These days, it seems that leaders of similar companies are prepared to lead from St Georges Terrace or Collins Street and shareholder money is spent on obtaining absolute certainty (which is usually ephemeral at best) rather than making progress on producing something. (Maybe investors were more patient in those days).

That also extended to smaller projects at a personal level where you were encouraged to “give it a try” and if whatever was tried didn’t work out so well, you were encouraged to learn from the failure.

In summary, I think that they were prepared to "go underground" to have a look for themselves and trusted their people, who were usually in geographically scattered locations  to get on and do the job and not to treat failure as terminal.

Their leadership and progressive mindset engendered a climate of optimism.

The Australian Leadership Project What's Good Australian Leadership for the 2020s? 


Ron Manners on Keith Parry

I first met Keith Parry when we were both mature-age students at Kalgoorlie’s School of Mines in the 1950’s. I can’t remember anyone who was a fulltime day student then, we all seemed to attend three hours per night, five nights per week. There was work to be done during the day.

Keith was eleven years older than my early-twenties and I was really in the mid-age group. As I recall it was the young 18 and 19-year-olds that managed the best marks.

Keith’s day job was selling and delivering groceries and Amgoorie tea for D & J Fowler & Co (a wholesale food distributor) and during his time at the School of Mines he joined Gold Mines of Kalgoorlie (GMK) as a sampler and assistant surveyor (Kevin Carter recalls talking Keith into enrolling at the School of Mines and also giving him his first job at GMK. Alan Jordan also recalls these events).

There wasn’t a lot of light hearted fun in Keith, who explained to me once that he had spent three years in the mid-forties as an RAAF pilot and had a bit of catching up to do. You wouldn’t want to get in Keith’s way, however we developed a good friendship as we were both loners, or at least not part of any group who brought with them common shared experiences.

I suspect we both found the going pretty hard as there had been a lack of continuity in our schooling (I deliberately use the word schooling, not education). Over the next 26 years of Keith’s life, he progressed just about as far as anyone could possibly go in this mining industry of ours.

He went from Production Manager at GMK to Divisional Manager for Ready Mix Concrete, rejoining the Western Mining Corporation (WMC) Group in 1967 as manager of the Mount Charlotte Gold Mine. Transferring to WMC’s Kambalda Nickel Operations (KNO) in 1968 as Assistant Resident Manager and in 1971 he became KNO’s Resident Manager for what was at that time WMC’s largest and most important mining operation.

From Kambalda he moved to Perth in 1973 as General Manager for WA and in 1976 he was appointed to the board and became Director of Operations and according to WMC’s official records, this was a position he filled with great distinction.

Other roles filled by Keith included several years as president of the Chamber of Mines of WA Inc, and member of the Board of Management of the WA School of Mines. In 1982, Keith succeeded Sir Laurence Brodie-Hall as Chairman of Central Norseman Gold Corporation, so in a way I guess I now have one of his old jobs.

Sadly Keith died suddenly in May 1986 at the peak of his career and the board of WMC recorded the following tribute:

“Mr Parry was a mining engineer and executive of the highest calibre, very highly respected both in Australia and overseas. His concern was with attaining the highest performance standards in the activities for which he was responsible, demanding performance from the people who worked for him while taking a deep interest in their welfare and development.”

Keith Parry was posthumously made Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June 1986.


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