Navigating life as a young girl and a geologist in war & conflict-zone countries - Regina Molloy
Updated: Apr 19, 2021
A few days ago, I sent my friend Regina Molloy a message, “Hey Friend how are you doing?” We are both lovers of music, so the conversation went to Adele the singer “Hello….from the other side.” After a bit of play and banter, Regina told me about the piece she was invited to write for her school newsletter.
I asked her to share this piece with me. When I read her piece, I was immediately drawn to the many teachable lessons embodied herein and decided to share this piece with you. She takes us through the journey of a young girl who eventually worked as a geologist in many interesting countries, Australia, Chile, Argentina, USA, Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria & Zambia
The immense power in being a dreamer and an "explorer", and the importance of consistently living a respectful, honest, kind and courageous life is beautifully captured below:
“My name is Regina Molloy and I attended Sacred Heart College and St Martins in the Pines referred ‘St Micks in the Sticks’, I graduated in the year 1990, it feels like yesterday that I was at high school, the years have flown by so quickly. I am now 48 years old and have lived a privileged and wonderfully adventurous life, I’ve travelled the world working and have now spent more of my career working outside Australia than within. I now live in Johannesburg South Africa and operate my own international mineral exploration consultancy.
My background ….I was one of seven children growing up in the small town of Skipton near Ballarat where my farm life taught me the swagger of committed hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit. I spent my teens dreaming about the adventure of travel, I loved reading and learning about other countries, their cultures, what they ate and what they wore, it was a natural fascination for me. At this time, I had no idea of where I would end up later in life, I just wanted to travel outside of Ballarat and Victoria and see something new, I never realised I was an explorer at heart.
My Catholic education taught me two valuable lessons which I want to share with you in this article. I’ve carried these lessons unknowingly for most of my life and this is why I want to share them with you. The first being the Golden Rule defined by “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” Luke 6:31 and Mathew 7:12. The second is to act with honesty towards yourself and others, even when no-one is looking. Both these values were reinforced to us at school and in my home life and I’ve only realised later in life how these values helped me prosper financially and have kept me safe in dangerous places I have travelled and worked.
After year twelve, I attended Ballarat University College and graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science, a double major in Geology, I was 20 years old when I finished my honours thesis. My first job was in Kalgoorlie Western Australia where I worked underground in a gold mine, back then, few women worked underground however my adventurous spirit was easily adaptable so I found it more exciting than dangerous. At age 25 years, my yearning to work overseas landed me in Chile, during the Pinochet rule which was a serious military regime, quite different to Australian lifestyle where you don’t see military arms in public space.
I worked in Chile and Argentina and I couldn’t believe I was paid to walk up 6,000m mountains doing geology scouting work at high altitude and was paid for it, I probably would have done it for free I enjoyed it so much. I travelled to Peru where local militants and conflict zones were also being overcome by Peru’s military regime, I climbed mountains in Peru and had a wonderful time.
Fast forward to today 2021, and I have worked as a geologist for 26 years in lots of different countries around the world in search of finding mines with the ultimate objective to benefit society. I have worked in rural areas with diverse cultures including Australia, Chile, Argentina, USA, Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria & Zambia. I have studied rocks in search of mines for gold, copper, uranium, iron ore, coal, potash, lead and zinc, cobalt and graphite.
When a mine is discovered and commissioned it brings great wealth to local communities via jobs, to governments in the form of taxes (for doing very little I might add) and future generations to benefit from the direct and indirect profits mines make. Everyone loves a profitable mine but they’re very hard to find. Most mines bring at least $1-3 billion dollars of benefit over a mine life, its big business however success rates of finding a mine are only 1-3% so it’s a high risk and high reward investment process. For me, finding a mine somewhere on the globe is the thrill of the adventure as the least explored areas are usually located in remote hard to access terrains. Mining is easy compared to finding and developing a mine and even if you find a mine, it’s not always permissible to mine for various reasons, this also adds to the risk and challenge of mineral exploration.
Getting back to my educational values; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, this value stood by me in times where I was in the thick of business negotiation in foreign countries in unfamiliar cultures, particularly during dignitary and tribal negotiations as their negotiation terms are generally not commercially mainstream. When I applied the Golden rule during these negotiations, by treating the dignitary leaders as I would towards myself, I was always able to negotiate my way through to achieve the goals set-out and not once have I experienced opposition from a tribal Elder or King, Mayor or Minister of government. I always negotiate from a position of respect and it has paid off well in all my projects and business relationships.
My personal values to ensure those around me were treated as I would treat myself kept me and my team safe when I worked in post-war Liberia, a country where every piece of infrastructure was destroyed in a brutal war. There were no road bridges left standing in the entire country as all had been blown up during the war. People’s houses showed the scars of bullet holes in the conflict areas. There were no police or courts to protect civilians or foreign business, only the United Nations military posts stationed across the country-maintained peace at a cost of USD$4Bn per year paid by the United Nations. I hired local community groups as our security and treated people as I would want to be treated given the tragic circumstances they had endured and lived through; emotional scars were evident everywhere including the workforce we employed in our mineral exploration program. I remember the hand-painted signs that the government erected with slogans to stop the rape of women and children, it was evident how much society had degraded during the war years that men thought rape was acceptable.
Interestingly, the Golden Rule today commonly forms part of governance protocol where companies try to include society in the benefit of their core being along with values towards environment and economic distribution and contribution.
For those students at Damascus today, I recommend taking note of the Golden Rule, it challenges you to put others on equal footing as yourself and to think for the collective benefit of all around you. Today I live in Johannesburg South Africa, and there is a famous local proverb … “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. This proverb speaks to the Golden Rule in that if you develop the ability to think collectively for the good of all, you will achieve far more than you can ever achieve on your own. By treating others, the same as you would treat yourself, enables you to challenge yourself and achieve and do better than those that don’t, and in this process, you develop the life skills to enable prosperity for yourself and those around you. The Golden Rule has also taught me that when we treat others, equally to ourselves, we achieve equality in our society.
The second lesson I learnt was to be honest with myself and those around me. I have learnt both personally and professionally that acting with honesty even when no-one is looking, speaks to a person of high integrity. When I was young, I thought my honest approach in life was a curse, as I felt some people took advantage and relied on my honesty for their personal gain, this experience was repeated often. However later in life, I realised the journey of my life where I integrated with people from different countries and cultures, taught me that my honest approach enabled trust in my relationships with diverse people, I learnt that my honest quality was appealing to others and people trusted me. When you have built up a bank of trust, you can easily leverage from these relationships over time and as you get older, the trust bank gets very full and opens the gateway to more senior responsibilities both professionally and within society.
My advice to young students of Damascus is to remain honest with yourself and others. When you are honest with yourself, your life is easier to navigate and if you are dishonest with others, how can you expect others to trust you over time. It makes the act of being dishonest less appealing. There are no short-cuts in life, only detours.
An example of my honesty one day I visited a tribal Chief and I asked him if the company I worked for could come and explore on their land, I explained we were a mining company looking for a mine and if there was a mine it would have a material impact on the local existing community and if there was no mine, the company would leave within a few years and investment would cease. These are standard honest engagements I conduct with all communities in which I operate, I inform dignitaries and community leaders with my honest opinion of the mining process and its likely impact both positive and negative on their community. The Chief seemed baffled by my visit as a Country Manager and my simple question “could we conduct mineral exploration work on your land?” In response, the Chief then asked me “why are you coming to ask me if you can come and explore on our land?” This was not a normal response, so I was a bit surprised, I then followed with my response “well if you came to my house and onto my land, I would expect you to ask me so I am returning you the courtesy of how I would expect you to treat me”. The Chief was elderly and contemplated and finally responded, he said: “I thank-you for traveling all this way and asking me, the tribal chief, if you can explore on our land because everyone else prior to you just came and took whatever they wanted from our land without asking or without permission”. I realised this was a significant moment for this tribe as a company much larger than a small community came and asked permission to explore their land, we were the first visitors they had visited that didn’t come onto their land to take.
From that point forward we had no issues with the local communities where we operated and they supported our project and provided us with the necessary community security we depended on. The national government was so impressed with the engagements, they made the engagement process part of their mandated protocol for future companies. It’s an example of when you treat others with the same honesty and respect that you treat yourself, they will return the same values to you.”
Daily I express gratitude for some amazing people I am blessed to know, learn from, who consistently challenge me and who themselves live an impactful life! I am incredibly blessed with her friendship. Being Australian, she is proud! She is also fearless and courageous and when we connect, she has no filters. She contributes exponentially to my growth as she consistently challenges me and speaks her truth.…. I believe everyone needs a Regina in their lives to confidently call out our biases so we can contribute to a kinder and happier world. This change is in our hands!!! I love you, Regina!
Thank you for stopping by!
I wish you love, light, happiness, and Freedom
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