Claude D’Cruz’s extensive work has taken him across four continents and to the top of the resources and energy sector.
D’Cruz is the Director – Metals, Australia-Asia, Hatch. He sat down with create to discuss his passions for diversity, leadership and his work.
create: You recently started at Hatch after two decades of career experience. What has the change meant for you?
CLAUDE D’CRUZ: Hatch essentially operates in three sectors. We’ve got an energy business, an infrastructure business, and a metals business, and we operate in five regions around the world. I’ve not worked in an employee-owned firm before, so it’s been different from that perspective. And I think it does drive a certain type of behaviour from employees, in that we treat it as if it’s our own — because it is.
create: What are you working on in this new role?
CDC: We’re doing probably the most exciting work around battery materials: so lithium and nickel, typically accompanied by cobalt, are really emerging based on demand for electric vehicle batteries. There’s a huge amount of activity happening in that space.
Some of our biggest clients here are BHP, Newcrest, and we do lots of work for Rio Tinto and also Anglo-American. We’re a resource-driven economy and, as long as China and India continue to have that ferocious demand, I think we’ll be okay.
create: What lessons did you learn from working internationally?
CDC: After more than 15 years at an ASX-listed consultancy, I was given the opportunity to go to Canada and integrate a small acquisition we did in the mining and metals space. That role was based in Toronto, and there was a big challenge to extend out to Vancouver.
There’s a fair bit of mining activity happening in Vancouver, and Vancouver tends to be very well-connected to Latin America. I got to know a little bit about our Chilean business, and eventually ended up down there, coordinating all of our business in the Americas. I found Canadians to be very similar, business-wise and socially, to Australians. In Latin America things move at a different pace.
There’s a lot more of a social aspect ahead of getting into business detail. I enjoyed the different cultural norms.
create: What can be done to improve diversity in engineering?
CDC: Through what Engineers Australia are doing, there’s a huge focus on gender diversity, and I think that’s absolutely essential. I think the thing that I’m not seeing enough dialogue on is ethnicity.
I was lucky enough to spend some time recently with Sandeep Biswas, the CEO of Newcrest, and he’s certainly someone who I admire. He came to Australia as a young boy, and went through university in Queensland, and his first role was at Mount Isa Mines.
I was born in Australia, but Sandeep did exactly what I did, and that is completely embrace the Australian culture, and the Australian way of life, and now he’s leading one of the best-performing gold companies in Australia, if not the world.
create: What should engineers understand about good leadership?
CDC: For me, the essence of leadership is people don’t work for a leader; they work with a leader. And leadership is a real privilege. It’s certainly not about waving a big stick and dictating or commanding control in terms of what teams do. It’s about involving teams to work together towards a common vision. That’s the thing that really excites me.
create: Why was achieving EngExec status important to you?
CDC: I haven’t practised technically for a number of years, but I’ve operated as a leader and as an engineering executive for several years now, and that part of what Engineers Australia is trying to do really resonated, so I went through the process.
I was lucky enough to meet the previous Victorian president as part of my interview for EngExec status. Subsequently, I’ve had a few people reach out to me, saying: “Look, I’m applying for Fellow membership. Obviously you’re a Fellow. Are you okay to vouch for me in that regard?” It’s been great.
This article originally appeared as “Spotlight: Claude D’Cruz” in the November 2018 edition of create.