What differentiates a good technical expert, and a great technical expert? To us at Snowden, the answer is Economic Intelligence.
Many technical experts are excellent in their field, but the differentiator between good and great is the understanding of how their technical solution relates to the overall economics of the project. A person with high economic intelligence will exhibit the following traits:
- Think global: Realise that their area of technical expertise might not be the most important area of the project. If mining costs are only 10% of total OPEX, and ore blend is important, then your mining engineer should understand that feed is king and the mining method (and potentially higher costs) should be catered to suit. The most elegant mining solution might not be the best economic solution.
- Collaborate: Realising that a global solution is better than a local solution, an expert with high economic intelligence will seek to understand the issues in the domain of other technical experts, and work together to find optimised global solutions.
- Be curious: High economic intelligence experts will seek data, and embrace variability. To a high economic intelligence expert, variability represents an opportunity to exploit. If they understand what material is higher value, then this material can be prioritised to make more money sooner.
Of course, there is a balance that must be sought. Too much focus on the economics leads to solutions that do not technically stack up. Perhaps all the assumptions have been stacked to the optimistic side, without appropriate evidence or justification.
To get a great outcome for your study, you want your experts to have high technical intelligence and high economic intelligence. When you are meeting your potential project team, be sure to look for these traits listed above.