Thursday, June 13, 2024
Case Studies » Featured Case Studies » Case Studies » BHP Billiton: The future is yours - Introduction

BHP Billiton: The future is yours - Introduction

The future is yours

This Case Study outlines how BHP Billiton uses effective human resources procedures to ensure long term success. It explains how the organisation communicates its vision and values to its people through the BHP Billiton Way and operates a program of continuous improvement. It also discusses the BHP Foundations for Graduates program.

As a result of reading this Case Study students should be able to:

  • Explain the role of human resources in long term planning and success
  • Understand the importance of continual improvement to a company and how this is implemented in the Foundations for Graduates program
  • Discuss the way in which BHP Billiton is ensuring employees understand how the company operates and what is expected of them

To download this case study as a free pdf, click the button below:




BHP Billiton is a leading global resources company, comprising over 100,000 employees and contractors worldwide. The company creates long-term shareholder value by discovering, developing and converting natural resources and providing innovative customer and market focused solutions. Its operations are located in some of the best resource basins around the world and its products are sold globally.

With employees working in over 100 operations around the world, people are fundamental to BHP Billiton’s success. BHP Billiton are always looking for talented people to join the company so the human resources (HR) function plays an important role in the company’s overall business performance. Its people strategy is founded on attracting, developing and retaining talented employees. Effective HR involves understanding existing and future business requirements, and using effective recruitment strategies to attract the best people to deliver on these business requirements. Having a pool of talented people with a range of skills that can be drawn on to deliver on the company’s strategy now and in the future is paramount. BHP Billiton develops its people by providing opportunities to move around the business and experience working with different commodities in different geographies. This is an essential part of the development of its future leaders.

BHP Billiton’s award winning Foundations for Graduates program is an important way of contributing to the talent pipeline. The program aims to equip Graduates with the skills, tools and capabilities they will need throughout their career. The program was developed and implemented in partnership with the Melbourne Business School and has twice been recognised by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) as the “Best Graduate Development Program” in Australia.

Geologists are an important part of BHP Billiton’s processes. It’s their job to locate new resource deposits, such as iron ore, and determine the viability to mine. This involves analysing the structure and quality of the deposits through the application of geophysics as well as developing an efficient and safe process for extraction.

Donner Frater, Principal Geologist for the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance describes it as an outdoor adventure career that encompasses lots of different jobs in many different places. Travel is an essential part of a geologist’s job as the valuable commodities produced by resources companies such as BHP Billiton are mined in some of the most remote corners of the world.

Jessica Barber is a Drill, Blast and Development Superintendent at BHP Billiton’s Iron Ore Whaleback Mine in Newman, Western Australia. Jessica started her mining career in Canada before moving to Australia with BHP Billiton. Jessica describes Newman and the BHP Billiton site as having a strong community feel, where one person from every household contributes to the mining industry. Although the town is remote, there is everything people need and it’s an ideal location for those who are family and friends focused. The shift structure of sites like Newman allows for an excellent work-life balance, enabling people to work in a way that suits them. This could be two weeks on, one week off, four days on, four days off, or a typical five day week.

Jessica is responsible for leading the team who remove the topsoil covering deposits, drilling down and exposing the resources through explosives and blasting and opening up the deposit for materials removal. Her team is also responsible for the planning, design, building and maintenance of the site’s road system.



The many functions of BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton’s business is to discover, develop, convert and sell natural resources. Represented in 25 countries around the world, their business reflects a unique diversification across markets and geographic regions. They are among the world’s top producers of major commodities including aluminium, energy coal, metallurgical coal, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver and titanium minerals, and have substantial interests in oil and gas.

For 150 years, BHP Billiton have been developing and contributing to industry, communities and economies throughout the world. Billiton’s roots trace back to 1860 and a tin mine on an island in Indonesia, while BHP’s rich and varied history began in a silver, lead and zinc mine in Broken Hill, Australia. In 2001, BHP Billiton was formed through the merger of BHP Limited and Billiton Plc with head offices in Melbourne and London respectively. Both organisations continue to exist as separate companies but operate on a combined basis as BHP Billiton.The organisation is designed around ten businesses:

  • Aluminium
  • Base Metals
  • Diamonds and Specialty Products
  • Energy Coal
  • Iron Ore
  • Manganese
  • Metallurgical Coal
  • Petroleum
  • Stainless Steel Materials
  • Uranium.

These product businesses are supported by Minerals Exploration and Marketing teams and other Group-wide Functions such as Treasury and Corporate Finance, Legal and Human Resources.



The BHP Billiton Way

The BHP Billiton Way is a reference document for explaining the way things are done at BHP Billiton. To be successful, BHP Billiton believes its people must understand and act in accordance to a shared set of values, with clear purpose and strategic intent and to a defined operating model.


The BHP Billiton Charter is the company’s single most important means by which they communicate who they are, what they do and what they stand for as a company. It is through the Charter that they articulate the purpose, strategic drivers that guide them and their organisational values. BHP Billiton believes that by working to the Charter, they will continue to be successful as a company today and for the long term.

Operating Model

The company’s Operating Model defines how they allocate work and accountabilities across the business. Through implementing the Operating Model, they establish simple, standardised, and most importantly, scalable ways of working on a global basis towards the same outcome.

Code of Business Conduct

BHP Billiton’s Code of Business Conduct sets the standards and provides guidance for everyone who works for, or on behalf of, BHP Billiton, on how to conduct their business activities. It places a priority on working with integrity and upholding a high ethical standard and establishing trust with stakeholders.

Leadership Model

The Leadership Model defines the attributes that the company looks for in its leaders and forms the basis of how the company develops and rewards its people. The company requires its leaders to visibly hold themselves and others accountable for living the company values as outlined in the Charter. This means putting safety first, making people a priority and being functionally excellent and working with discipline.

The leadership styles that they encourage are designed to bring out the best in others by influencing in ways that transcend self-interest, engages people on an individual and personal level, challenge assumptions and inspire people.

The BHP Billiton Way is also highlighted in the Foundations for Graduates program. The organisation aims to complement Graduates’ technical skills by developing leadership capabilities, people skills and communication techniques while providing a forum for developing peer networks.



Recruiting the best

The company’s strategy is predicated on diversification by geography, commodity and market. To meet that strategic imperative it is necessary to recruit and retain talented employees from around the world. BHP Billiton’s success relies on ensuring the best and the brightest people are doing the jobs to deliver the right outcomes which will safely and successfully grow the business.

Each year in Australia, university students are invited to apply for a position on the BHP BillitonFoundations for Graduates program. After applying online, students’ applications are reviewed and assessed and, if successful, the applicant is invited to participate in the next stage of selection. Successful candidates are offered graduate positions, usually by the middle of the same year. BHP Billiton is always searching for candidates who are a good fit for the organisation and who share BHP Billiton’s Charter values. The program is actively marketed at university career fairs and school visits and via supporting materials such as promotional DVDs, brochures and on the BHP Billiton website. The program is also promoted to schools through the distribution of educational materials.

Jody Herley flies high with BHP Billiton

Jody Herley is a Bachelor of Mining Engineering graduate and works at BHP Billiton’s Cannington underground silver,lead and zinc mine located in northwest Queensland.

Jody says that BHP Billiton’s excellent reputation in the mining industry, recommendations from other graduates and the variety of opportunities on offer is what attracted her, but it was the strength of BHP Billiton’s Foundations for Graduates program that sealed the deal.

“I liked that BHP Billiton had a really structured graduate program and that they invest a lot into helping develop their graduates which is great to see as you don’t find that sort of thing with every company.”

“The main highlight of the program for me is definitely the five-day residential in Melbourne. It’s a really intense week but you get to meet heaps of graduates from other operations around Australia which is great for networking.”



Working at BHP Billiton

BHP Billiton people are valued for their diversity of experience, culture and perspective. The company looks to provide opportunities to individuals who have the talent, passion, integrity and desire to work within an international organisation that values and supports them. As a global organisation, diversity of gender, skill, thought, experience, ethnicity, style and language is valued throughout the workforce.

BHP Billiton aims to harness the unique skills and experience that each individual brings and recognises that these differences are crucial to its future success as a global company.




BHP Billiton is a global leader in the natural resources industry. To ensure continued success, the company has developed a way of working and sharing knowledge that reflects its values and drives superior performance. It is constantly updating and optimising its working practices in order to maintain its leading position.

Wherever BHP Billiton operates, they want to do so with integrity by making the right decisions and doing things the right way. Above all, there is an overriding commitment to the health and safety of their people, the environment and the communities in which they operate.

BHP Billiton recognises that people are its most valuable asset. The company’s resourcing objective is to recruit the best graduates with the right diversity mix and highest probability of progressing into future leadership positions.

This will ensure BHP Billiton is well placed to continue to lead the natural resources industry in the future.



(Page 2 of 7)
Associated with:
Learning Area(s):
  • Business Environment | Measuring business performance
  • Business Environment | Mission and Objectives
  • Business Environment | Significance of business
  • Business Environment | Stakeholders
  • Business Environment | Types of large organisations
  • Business Structure and Organisation | Forms of ownership of large organisations
  • Careers | Career training and development
  • Careers | Choosing a career
  • Careers | Graduate programs
  • Employee Relations | Proactive employee relations
  • Human Resource Management | Human resource planning
  • Human Resource Management | Mission and objectives
  • Human Resource Management | Performance management
  • Human Resource Management | Recruitment and selection
  • Management Skills | Role of leadership
From: Edition 6

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.

Subscribe today!

Purchase a subscription today!

We are delighted to offer you a subscription to access over 80 additional case studies, learning activities, teacher notes and downloadable content!
Click here to log-in if you already have an account.

Order the print version!

Order a hard copy!

Purchase a print version of Edition 7 for yourself or additional copies for your school! 

Commission a case study for your business

If your company or organisation would like to be part of Australia & New Zealand's best case study resource, apply for a case study online or phone us on 
02 4991 2874 in Australia and 0800 990 999 in New Zealand.

What's New?


New Edition 7 case studies available now!

Buy a printed copy of Edition 7Buy a printed copy of Edition 7 case studies.

Subscribe nowSubscribe now to get access to over 80 additional case studies and support material.

Teaching Resources

Learning Resources

Useful Resources
Need to contact a teaching association?
Or get ideas for class?
Check out our useful links.

Teaching Hints & Strategies
Share your lesson plans with other
professionals or search for ideas here.

Tell us your favourite case study?

What Is your Favourite Edition 7 Case Study?

Log in / log out