Like many people, Meath Hammond had plenty of casual jobs before landing his first full-time position, which on reflection provided a clear pathway to his role now as BHP WA Head of Corporate Affairs. 

More of the now later; first the casual jobs: pizza chef, gardener, delivery driver, warehouseman . . .  and working for a private detective. 

That’s not something that appears in everyone’s work history. 

Asked for a few more details, Meath said: “It wasn’t as glamourous as it sounds. It mostly involved sitting in my car taking photos of people who were allegedly defrauding their insurance companies. I only did it for a short period of time before I got bored.”   

With those days behind him, Meath’s first full-time job was an anthropologist, firstly as a consultant and then later for a heritage consultancy.  

“I enjoyed working as an anthropologist because I met many interesting Aboriginal elders and cultural custodians, and I learned a lot about the history of colonisation of Western Australia that I didn’t learn in school or university,” he said. 

The work and the timing could not have been better, with the landmark Mabo decision handed down in 1992. 

In June that year the High Court of Australia ruled that a group of Torres Strait Islanders led by Eddie Mabo held ownership of Murray Island, and that Native Title existed for all Indigenous people. 

Legislation followed that ended the concept of terra nullius, recognising the deep and lasting connection between Indigenous people and their lands and establishing a basis for collaboration and discussion over activities on those lands. 

“My work as an anthropologist coincided with the Mabo decision, which catapulted me into native title negotiations and dispute resolution with the WA Government,” Meath said. 

“My government experience then led me to working in the resources industry in land access, community and government relations. 

“Over the last 25 years in resources I branched out to government and community relations and issues management in Australia, North America and Asia.  

“Today I am a generalist corporate affairs leader in one of the largest mining companies in the world – BHP.” 

Meath has been a member of the Port Hedland Industries Council board for five years and is a PHIC director. He also has Bachelor of Science with Honours, and an Executive Master of Business Administration from UWA and has completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors course. 

He said that combined experience provided an understanding of how to align the interests of government, industry and community to generate mutual benefit. 

“For example, in Port Hedland, PHIC is working with government agencies to balance regulation in a way that allows iron ore exports to continue to grow, while practicably minimising environmental and community impacts.  

“I like the unpredictability and variety of corporate affairs, but I also take great satisfaction from helping the people who work for me build successful and fulfilling careers,” he said.  

“I live the dream every day – there is no single stand out moment or achievement. I have been working in resources for a long time now, I don’t think I’d be good at anything else.

A perfect weekend includes “waking up when I want to, eating when I am hungry and going to bed when I am tired – and most importantly no intrusions from the office”.