Dr James Johnson


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Dr James JohnsonChief of Energy Division/Deputy CEO

Describe some daily tasks that you complete in your position

In my role as Chief of Energy Division/Deputy CEO, I have the task of guiding the strategic direction of research projects to ensure that Geoscience Australia's work is relevant to the Australian energy and minerals industry. Through discussion with talented staff, I play a role in setting the direction for our programs so that they will have a positive impact on Australians. I monitor and review technical programs, and remove obstacles to their progress when I can. I also play a role in organising positive collaborations with State and Territory Geological Surveys.

What is it that you find most enjoyable/challenging/rewarding about your position?

The most enjoyable and rewarding component of my position is coordinating national scale programs that I know will make a difference to Australia. As Chief of Division, I enjoy seeing enthusiastic staff use their skills and develop their potential as outstanding scientists. My role includes the responsibility and challenge of juggling many different inputs from a variety of partners and contributors, and channelling them towards a consistent strategic direction relevant to the Australian minerals and energy industry. It's a day-to-day challenge that I enjoy because I know it is contributing to the success of Australia's economy and through that, the wellbeing of Australians.

Describe your career pathway(s) that led you to where you are today?

In my first year out of school, I had a clerical job in the public service that didn't suit me and I vowed that I would find a profession that would let me work outdoors. The following year I enrolled at Sydney University to study marine science. In my first year, I took geology as a contrast to potentially harder subjects like maths and chemistry. After three weeks I fell in love with geology and recognised that this was the career path for me.

After university I worked for 21 years in the mining and exploration industry, working in underground nickel and copper mines and doing surface exploration and field work searching mostly for copper and gold. These jobs evolved into managing exploration programs which I did for seven years by which time I was ready for a change. I saw a fantastic opportunity at Geoscience Australia that enabled me to work on a national canvas. I applied and was fortunate to be offered a position.

What formal/educational training have you completed?

I completed a BSc Honours majoring in geology and PhD on the Olympic Dam Copper Uranium Deposit.

What are the benefits of working at Geoscience Australia?

One of the main benefits of relocating to work at Geoscience Australia is the Canberra lifestyle. For me, that includes living close to family, being in a great place to raise kids, having wonderful national parks close by and great bike tracks. On a personal level, working at Geoscience Australia gives me a sense of accomplishment because I get an opportunity to make an impact on an entire industry rather than simply the fortunes of one company.

Topic contact: recruitment@ga.gov.au Last updated: June 17, 2013