A last-minute decision to study mining instead of medicine led to a successful career for Peter Bradford. Now, as chairman of the WAIT Alumni Scholarships Campaign Committee, he wants to support today’s students so they can receive similar opportunities to him.
From a young age, Peter Bradford decided that he wanted to become a doctor, however in year 12, an information session held by representatives from the Western Australian School of Mines enticed him to pursue a career in mining and resources instead.
After finishing high school, he studied a Bachelor of Extractive Metallurgy at the Western Australian School of Mines, based in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, from 1976 to 1978. While some other students struggled to adjust to life in Kalgoorlie, Bradford reveals he had nothing but a positive experience studying in the historic mining town.
“It was great learning at the school, and then having access to vacation work to help fund expenses,” he says, referring to paid work experience often undertaken by students in the mining industry.
“I loved Kalgoorlie from the first moment I saw it. There was a great sense of comradery and likeminded behaviour from the type of people that were attracted to the industry.”
The decision to study mining delivered a highly successful career for Bradford. For the past 20 years, he has worked as CEO, managing director or non-executive director in several mining corporations operating in Australia and overseas.
Bradford is currently CEO and managing director of Independence Group (IGO), an ASX 200 mining, development and exploration company with three operational mines, and a fourth mine in construction.
Now, he has made the decision to “give back” so Curtin students can have the same opportunities he had, by choosing to become chairman of the WAIT Alumni Scholarships Campaign Committee. His role is to donate a financial gift to help fund scholarships for students, become the campaign’s public face and encourage others to donate.
“I grew up in a family that could not have afforded to send me to university. Thankfully, at the time I studied, tuition was more or less free. Government assistance paid for the majority of the living expenses and the vacation work paid for the rest,” he says.
“That kind of support is not available for the majority of students today, who have to deal with hefty tuition fees and living expenses. There is also a lot of competition between students in applying for vacation work.”
Bradford is using every opportunity he can get to endorse the campaign, whether through his networks or during conferences that he attends.
“The campaign’s goal is to raise $2 million to help fund student scholarships,” he says.
“I believe we can achieve that.”
Help those in need
Despite a commitment of $6.5 million annually towards scholarships as a result of funding from Curtin University, the Commonwealth and external organisations, 65 per cent of students who apply for a scholarship miss out.