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In January Daryn Brown, Group Risk Manager, marked 40 years of service with Gold Fields. We chatted to him about the changes he’s seen and his personal journey at our company.
My Dad was one of the pioneers at Kloof when shaft sinking started in 1965. Gold Fields was a family orientated company, so being young and not sure what I wanted to become in life, I suppose this automatically drew me here. I was a keen and talented sportsman in those days and Gold Fields provided opportunities to people like that so I quickly gained a very positive impression of the company and learned to love the Gold Fields brand and values.
I started as a Learner Official Metallurgy and then switched to mining and safety. My first job was at Venterspost Gold Mine in 1984 as a Loss Control Officer, then Senior Loss Control Officer at East Driefontein, after which I was promoted to Kloof Head of Safety. A highlight of this period was helping to bring down the number of fatalities from 54 in 1989 down to 12 in 1994 – these numbers are high but the drop was significant and fortunately mining safety has made big improvements.
In those days we were transferred every 5 years so I was moved back to East Driefontein to help improve injury and fatality rates. In 1998 with the merger between Gold Fields and Gengold, the creation of Driefontein and the promulgation of risk assessment in the Mines Safety Act, I was appointed as Risk Manager for Driefontein.
Considering my operational background, I had to grow into the role of strategic risk management with much help and encouragement from Nick, Paul and the rest of the Gold Fields executive committee members. It has been fascinating to see how they have crafted the Gold Fields strategy and steered the ship to achieve the goals every year.
I have observed colossal changes since 1980. There were no computers or cell phones, work was manual with an abundance of labour to help you. New technology has helped with mine design, planning and control but the most profound change I have experienced is the quantum leap in safety performance and more modern and authentic management styles and commitment. Thankfully there also have been massive regulatory, social and environmental changes for the better, most recently with the focus on climate change.
Being part of this amazing corporate office team has been a highlight of my career. I joined the Parktown Corporate Office when it was still in Parktown as Group Safety / Risk Controller in 2005 and was appointed Group Risk Manager in 2010. It has all been extremely challenging and fulfilling, working with very bright and committed people and seeing how well they have dealt with risks during times of adversity - never a dull moment!
Over the years, I have witnessed many instances of remarkable teamwork and comradery when the chips are down. At Kloof in 1992 a shaft steelwork collapsed and fell to the bottom of the shaft. It took us a week to get our 147 fellow workers out alive. I have observed people working many a long hour in times of crisis without asking for anything in return.
The people and the challenges of the job keep me here at Gold Fields. I have had the privilege of working alongside incredible and dedicated managers, engineers, accountants and other specialists. I have enjoyed travelling to other countries and experiencing the differences in our cultures. It has been fantastic getting to know Australians, Peruvians and Ghanaians as friends.
I have said this before: everything that I have ever worn, eaten, driven and lived in has been paid for by Gold Fields, for which we are always very grateful. My wife Cindy is my rock and has supported and loved me unconditionally from the start. Our son, Gary-Jon - who has the most amazing personality and is the kindest person I know - has shown great resilience over the years having to manage a muscle-nerve disease and is my hero. He also works at Gold Fields, at South Deep.