Radio technician Sam Driver was studying engineering in Brisbane before work opportunities drew him to Glencore and north-west Queensland.
Mr Driver, 26, grew up in the Blackall area, did well in school and chose to pursue a degree with the University of Queensland.
“I started it, then wasn’t sure what I wanted to do – I didn’t really want to sit at a desk all the time,” he said.
“I took some time off and ended up coming to Mount Isa – just temporarily. Now I have been here seven years.”
Mr Driver got a start as a trades assistant with the Mount Isa Copper Operations radio technical team.
After a few weeks, the tradesmen he worked with recognised his potential and encouraged him to apply for an apprenticeship as a radio technician.
He has since won the title of Apprentice of the Year at the 2015 Queensland Training Awards Northern Region final.
Looking ahead, Mr Driver would like to gain a second trade, either as an electrician or auto electrician and is considering completing his engineering degree via correspondence.
Mr Driver saw himself staying in the Mount Isa region, saying mines in the area off ered a variety of career pathways as well as being a great incubator for young talent.
“Where I am is a 24-7 operation with four crews – so there are a lot of experienced tradesmen, a lot to learn from,” he said.
“They do pump out good quality tradespeople.”
Mr Driver also believed his experience of heading to Mount Isa for a short stint of work and remaining for years was quite common among his colleagues.
“Everyone comes up here ‘temporarily’ and ends up staying – it’s a good community,” he said.