A case study on the alternative journey a career in quarrying can take you.
Paul Clark is General Manager at Arabian Explosives (AREX) in the United Arab Emirates. He has come a long way, both professionally and geographically, since starting out his career in a small market town in South Yorkshire in 1988.
Paul explains how he got into the industry and how he got to where he is today: ”Coming from a mining area and a family with generations of miners, I was always intended to go “into the pits”. With the decline in mining, I had to look further afield. Quarrying seemed the perfect alternative for me, so I studied a Quarrying and Road Surfacing HND at Doncaster College.
“My first job after graduating was with Tarmac as a Management Trainee, progressing to Quarry Manager. From there I then joined Explosives Developments Limited for three years as an Area Manager, where I helped to set up and manage a depot in Ireland. I then moved to EPC-UK as an Area Manager for Blasting Services, before transferring to EPC-Group JV company, AREX, in 2005.
“I’ve undertaken training annually at different levels since leaving Doncaster in 1991. Most was originally HSE based, although after working with explosives the environmental impact of quarrying became much more recognisable and important to me. The last few years I have done some Institute of Director courses, which are more relevant to my current position as I’m no longer “hand’s-on” in the field.
“The idea of working abroad wasn’t planned. The position of Factory Manager at AREX in Dubai was available within the EPC Group. I had the chance to look at it, and haven’t looked back since. As well as the excitement of being in a different country, the people I work with make my job very satisfying. We work as a team in a harsh, often difficult environment with tight deadlines and timescales. Everyone pulls together and supports each other, in and out of work, as we are all away from friends and family. It’s like a home away from home!
“Living in Dubai also means that I’ve been able to take up some exciting new hobbies, including off road 4x4 desert driving - no chance of that in the Peak District...
“I would say the biggest challenge is overcoming security restrictions, which impacts on all of our daily activities, including production and sales operations. In the UK you operate within a well regulated, HSE based structure, but here security takes precedence and it’s completely out of our control. We must work under police supervision 24/7. We know how to operate safely and efficiently through adopting EPC-Groupe best practices and procedures. However, at times these don’t align themselves fully with the police’s way of thinking. The job for my team and myself is to meet or exceed these demands whilst complying fully with other UAE or Global Regulations, EPC-Groupe standards and policies.
Ongoing Career Development
“In terms of future career development, I’m happy where I am right now, and look forward to working more on developing and adapting the business to meet the ever-changing demands of the explosives industry in the Middle East environment.
“Working abroad is a great experience, allowing you to work with other nationalities, cultures, languages and attitudes. In my case, it was pretty much the same type of work but with completely different challenges and issues. Your priorities change and you have to adapt.
“Quarrying is an industry that will always be in demand. It is an industry that has and will continue to adapt and modernise. It’s this dynamic environment that means you can never stand still with your skills so investing in continuous professional development is a must. There will always be opportunities to progress and develop personally in this industry as it transforms.
“To everyone who works in quarrying, those who are just starting out, and even to those who are just beginning to consider quarrying as a career path, I would definitely recommend taking opportunities to work abroad. It’s somewhere out of your comfort zone but it’s a great opportunity to develop you both professionally and personally.’