Yahia Al-Shangti, School of Civil Engineering alumnus of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds

Yahia M. A. Al-Shangiti

What have you been doing since finishing your studies? What are you doing in terms of your career?

By the time I acquired the Master of Science in Mineral Industrial and Environment Management from the University of Leeds, I was already working with Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden) as Mining Engineer II at its Mahd Ad-Dahab Mine – more commonly known and believed to be the King Solomon’s mine of the ancient history.  All of my acquired knowledge from such studies were applied in the performance of my work paving the way to being promoted to Mine Captain, then to Mine Superintendent, and to Mine Manager in just a period of two years.  In 2003 until 2008, I was delegated with more responsibilities while handling the development of the Ad Duwayhi Gold Mine Project and the Ma’aden Aluminum Project involving multi-billion dollars investments each, and are now operational.  In 2008, I was appointed as Director of Operations of the Ma’aden Gold & Base Metals Co. (MGBM), a subsidiary of Ma’aden.  As such, I was involved with the overall operations of the five (5) operational mines; taking into consideration its manpower resources, production efficiency, and company profitability.  In 2010, I was elected as President of MGBM. Truly, I could say that the University of Leeds has served as a concrete foundation on my climb to a successful career life.

What company are you working for, what is your role and what does it involve?

Since I graduated from my Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering from the King Abdulaziz University, I only worked with the Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Ma’aden), a company formed under a Royal Decree in 1997 by the Saudi Arabian Government.  It’s main objective is to facilitate the development of the Kingdom’s mineral resources particularly focusing on the gold mines it was operating by then.  By now, it has expanded its activities to phosphate through its Ma’aden Phosphate Co.; to aluminum through its Ma’aden Aluminum Co., Ma’aden Bauxite and Alumina, and Ma’aden Rolling Mill Co. tagged as one of the most integrated and effective aluminum projects in the whole world.  The massive investments include the phosphate and bauxite mines, associated plants plus a railway that transports the mined products to the facilities in Ras Al-Khair.

Aside from being the President of MGBM, I was appointed as Vice-President of the Gold & Base Metals Strategic Business Unit (SBU) of Ma’aden in January 2014.  The job demands more attention to management details at the Corporate level, i.e. from operations to strategic business planning, managerial manpower sourcing, budgeting, responsibilities towards the Company Board of Directors, development and exploitation of identified ore reserves including economic analysis, project management, construction, production and marketing, formulation and implementation of functional policies, processes, and procedures, and a lot more.  Performance of such functions must be aligned with the company’s vision, mission, and objectives.

What experiences at Leeds do you think have particularly helped with your career/will help with your future career?

I consider acquired knowledge as treasures of life.  That’s my philosophy. I value every single information that is fed to my brain, and I believe that this attitude towards learning played a very significant role in my career success story.  Being with the University of Leeds provided me with the chance to enhance and develop what I learned from the King Abdulaziz University; not only in the academic aspects, but more importantly, in dealing with a diverse community.  Professionalism in the manner by which a conversation is conducted; arguments, debates, discussions and exchange of ideas in an informative fashion – are contributing factors to where I stand now.  I learned how to blend with all sorts of individuals from the lowest worker to the President and CEO to the Board of Directors by knowing the proper approach and the effective way of presenting my points of view, negotiate fairly and openly for the company’s benefit.

I see myself as the owner of a mining consultancy services firm after my tenure with Ma’aden. The knowledge that I acquired from the learning institutions (The King Abdulaziz University, and the University of Leeds in particular) would definitely ease every negotiation with clients, employees, and workers, as well as with Government institutions and partners.

Looking back, why did you choose to study your particular course and why did you choose the University of Leeds?

Mining was at its raw stage in Saudi Arabia by the time I took the course.  By then, I saw a lot of opportunities for self-advancement in the mining industry, and with lots of hardwork and determination, I could say that I made the right choice.  As well, the University of Leeds was the best choice for me by then for advanced studies.  Apart from being one of UK’s largest universities, its reputation is a major consideration.  I also considered the diversity of offered courses, as well as the dedication to provide an in-depth study and investigation of the chosen course, and its capacity and capability to adapt to various cultures in choosing the University.  An added advantage is its massive campus facilities designed for students’ comfort and  convenience. With where I am now, I could definitely say that I made the right move in choosing the University of Leeds as the provider of my master’s  degree.

What was the best aspect of the course/the University and why? Any highlights?

The best aspect of the course was the unit of operation/mine finance which covered everything about mining from technical to management points of view. I used what I gained from that course to prepare for my two-month thesis about financial model of Al-Hajar Gold deposits.

What would you say to students thinking about studying the same course at Leeds/thinking about the same career?

The course is exciting, and the mining career offers a hundred-and-one opportunities for a bright future.  Although it would take a lot of hardships and dedication, the rewards are boundless…and Leeds is one of the best choices you could have in starting this career path.  Take it and you will not regret it.