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Celebrating International Womens Day 2020

 

Championing women’s achievements is a core part of International Women’s Day and this year’s theme: “an equal world is an enabled world”.


International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world and aims to raise awareness to eliminate discrimination against women. It also focuses on helping women gain full and equal participation in global development.

To recognise diversity in our workforce and honor successful women in the mining industry, we’ve asked some of our team to share stories and experiences from their diverse career paths in the STEM and mining sectors.


Oy Leuangthong
Principal Geostatistician
Danielle Kyan
Senior Geoenvironmental Consultant

I was always interested in planetary sciences so geology as a first-year subject was a good fit. From there it sold itself as it was the most interesting of all the science subjects. I also found a close-knit camaraderie with the others in the geology faculty, many of whom remain close friends to this day. Jobs were hard to come by when I graduated, but I was lucky to get a start with SRK in Canberra and progress to working in geology, GIS and mine closure cost estimation over my 18 years here. One of my favourite aspects of my job has been working closely with clients that have been part of my career for over 14 years. I have also valued the flexibility of my role allowing me to work from home and balance my work and family life with young children.

A proud moment in my career so far was being asked to help coordinate a global workshop on Mine Closure. As a specialist in a niche field, I was able to share my experience as part of the global closure team and gain confidence in my expertise and place within SRK’s global consulting team.

Rebecca Getty
Senior Mine Closure Consultant

Working in the mining industry has given me many great opportunities to travel and explore the world as an investigative scientist, first as a geologist and now as an environmental consultant. I love the variety of my role and the feeling of accomplishment when I overcome unforeseen challenges – I learn something new every day! One of my proudest achievements was receiving a Master in Environmental Management and being able to present the results of my study at the international Mine Closure Conference.

Celebrating International Women’s Day is a great opportunity to provide support and guidance to other women and men to promote inclusion and help create a brighter, more confident future. You don’t have to follow conventions to achieve your goals.

Justine Paul
Senior Geotechnical Engineer

I didn’t know much about the mining industry when I first started my career, but I was offered an internship at SRK in Perth while I was studying my masters in Engineering in Paris and chose to move to Australia to take up the opportunity – I’m glad I did as 10 years have passed and I am now a senior geotechnical engineer, still at SRK. I enjoy being a consultant and being involved in a variety of different projects. Each project has its own background, geology and unique challenges, which forces me to think outside the box and keep learning new tools and software to get the best outcome.

The mining sector is versatile but highly dependent on the economic context, with its few highs and many lows, but it is worth joining the sector because of its unique challenges. The industry is changing with the development of new technologies and it will need fresh ideas from young people, particularly in terms of sustainability, to keep making it better.

Sathisha Barath
Senior Scientist

Initially, I wanted to study medicine but realised I wanted a career where I could spend time both outdoors and in an office, so I registered for a geology degree. SRK has afforded me the opportunity to work on a variety of contaminated land projects where I have the best of both worlds. I currently manage a portfolio of projects including the Enhanced In situ bioremediation of chlorinated solvents. This is the first large scale implementation of in situ bioremediation technologies in South Africa. I love working on the project as it is technically very demanding but also requires one to think out of the box and on one’s feet.

Another contributing factor to my almost 11 year employment at SRK, is the immense support that SRK management has afforded me. In a male-dominated industry, women often have to work hard to gain recognition but as industry leaders in the field of science and engineering, SRK has encouraged the technical growth and development of female employees and afforded them due recognition.

Juanita Martin
Principal Surface Water Engineer

I first started my career in road engineering, which eventually brought me to water management. As a young woman just about to finish school I pictured myself with machete in hand helping opening roads to communicate people through the Peruvian jungle. This dream came true, as a young engineer I managed to go to the jungle with a total station and designed small roads for small communities. Working on roads, I realised that water was one of the main problems, which started my career in water management. I got into water management for mining because I believe that we can all contribute towards a better world and helping keep our water clean is part of that. I love that in my role, each project is like a new story – you don’t know what you are going to find and overcoming new challenges is exciting.

Melanie Cox
Consultant (Geochemistry)
 
I have always had a great interest in Earth Sciences; I initially started in the mining industry as a Project Management Assistant and worked towards a distance learning degree in order to progress to Consultant within SRK. I wanted a job which was both interesting and rewarding. My role at SRK allows me to work on a variety of different projects in different parts of the world. It is satisfying to know that you are helping to make a difference in the way mining waste is handled for environmental protection. My favourite aspect of my role with SRK is the opportunities to travel and meet inspirational people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. My proudest achievement in my career to date is finishing my studies whilst working at the same time and raising two young children.
 
I see IWD as a great opportunity to celebrate the success of women and promote further equality in what is historically a male dominated industry.

Lucy Roberts
Principal Consultant (Resource Geology)

My interest in the industry comes before I was born, my father worked as a mechanical engineer in the mining industry, and I remembered being taken to see his trucks at the workshop. I knew this was something I was interested in, but wanted something more nature based. I have always been interested in geology, and how multiple scientific and engineering disciplines across the industry come together to develop mining projects. My favourite aspect of my role at SRK is the opportunity to work with interesting people, in varied parts of the world. I enjoy the problem-solving aspects of consultancy in particular. It is hugely satisfying to think you are helping to improve the industry, and the projects I am most proud of are where we can work across disciplines to provide the best service to our clients. Every project gives the opportunity to learn something new.

IWD is a wonderful chance to focus on and celebrate the contribution that women make, both to our industry, and beyond. I see it as a chance for women to come together, in optimism and in strength.

Bronwen Forsyth
Senior Geochemist

The highlight of my job is being able to use science to solve problems. My career in mining started by completing my PhD in geochemistry. I had an interest in water chemistry and a background in mining environmental science, so working in the mining industry ticked those boxes. Throughout my career I have had great opportunities to work with knowledgeable and experienced geochemists in SRK’s global team.

If I could give any advice to those starting out in the industry, it would be that hard work and honesty will take you places. Always be open to new ideas and innovation to help continually improve your work and grow as a technical professional.

Jessica Edwards
Senior Social Scientist

As a social scientist I enjoy the ability to make people feel valued. We often work with the marginalised and vulnerable persons in a community and being able to make a small difference in their lives adds a tremendous amount of pride in what I do.

I am very proud that I can apply the core values of International Women's Day in my career in mining. It provides me with an opportunity to understand others and through this understanding, increase my appreciation of diversity and the ways it fosters acceptance and change. Mining and engineering can sometimes be a male-dominated industry, but the time has come where the voice of women will be more valuable than ever. Women's ability to see the bigger picture, to value dignity, collaboration, appreciation, and empathy will help to change the way the industry approaches sustainability and resilience.

Claire Linklater
Principal Geochemist

My interest in rocks was triggered as a young child, growing up in wild and rocky Shetland. I studied geology at university and I’ve never looked back! My favourite aspect of my role is undertaking geochemical modelling – I enjoy predicting how water will interact with mined rock and assessing whether or not contaminants will be mobilised. The advice I’d give to those starting out in this industry is to follow the areas of study that you find most interesting, and never be afraid to ask questions!

Anne-Marie Ebbels
Principal Mining Engineer

I was always drawn toward engineering – maths, physics and chemistry were always my favourite subjects at school. Mining engineering ultimately won because of the diverse nature of engineering work that can be done in this space. I enjoy working through problems, big or small, and coming up with solutions.

My advice for those starting out in their careers is that your definition of success is your own, and therefore your career path is your own. Take the steps along that path that get you to your goals but recognise that everyone’s path will be different even if the goals are similar.

Inge Moors
Principal Consultant (Mineral Economics), Cardiff
What attracted me to study mining engineering, was the fun of engineering (how do things work?!), combined with a fair amount of geology (what explains what we see?), and the international focus of the programme and future job prospects. Joining SRK straight after graduation was not by everyone seen as a wise choice back then, but I’ve created my own spot within our department, focussing on technical economic models and doing what I love: numbers. Getting to work with colleagues and clients from a wide range of disciplines, it’s a never ending learning curve, which keeps it fascinating. My favourite project was the one where I was fully accepted by the client as one of the team, not all too common unfortunately as we are often the reviewers!
Whilst gender diversity (and diversity in general) is getting more focus these days, it still has a long way to go. IWD is a great means to draw attention to this.
Insiya Salam
Consultant (ESG), Cardiff
Having gained my social experience largely from working in the third sector, I was excited at the opportunity to bring my international development experience to the mining industry. I’ve always had an interest in ensuring international standards and frameworks are met in terms of effectiveness of interventions and accountability towards affected populations. Assisting on the resettlement planning for a hydropower project in West Africa has been a great way to contribute to the industry and my role at SRK allows me to continue developing my knowledge around social issues, including resilience building and sustainable livelihoods. Travelling to new countries is great too!
Social reviews of largescale mining projects can highlight how gender inequalities within communities are often reinforced or exacerbated as a result of direct and indirect impacts that materialise over time. This might be because women are not engaged in consultation processes or their needs and interests are not fully accounted for. Gender equality and the empowerment of women is a matter of rights - this is why IWD is important to me.

Heather Thomson
Senior Tailings Engineer

I grew up determined to study medicine and become a pediatric psychiatrist. However, just as I was hitting submit on my university preferences, I changed my whole career in the last minute and proclaimed, 'I'm going to be an Engineer'! Every day in my job is different and I really enjoy the problem-solving aspect of the role. My advice to those just starting out in their careers: always say ‘yes’ to opportunities!

Joanna Poeck
Principal Mining Engineer

I started my career by briefly working in a mine before transferring to a mining software company and developing my skills as a power user. From there, I found an open door into the field of mining consulting, allowing me to work on a wide variety of projects with different unique challenges every day. If I could lend some advice to other women starting in the industry, it would be to lead with integrity and excellence in everything you do. Having the knowledge and confidence to understand your clients and explain mining concepts to both highly technical people and to c-suite executive level people will take you far in this industry.

Philippa Burmeister
Principal Climate Scientist

When Rhodes University first offered Environmental Science as a subject, I saw the opportunity to become part of a discipline that was in its infancy. Since then I have done my dues in impact assessment and have more recently specialised in Air Quality and Climate Change. Particularly Climate Change, for me at least, represents the next frontier in advancing our understanding of human impact and I find that very exciting.

Having recently done work with the Sustainable Development Goals I see International Women's Day as an extension of a rising awareness for equality generally. This and the opportunity for women to come together to achieve Goals 5 and 10 that focus on equality and are the foundation of achieving so many of the other goals.

Karen Lloyd
Principal Valuations Consultant

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors and in nature, and that’s what first led me to get into the geoscience industry. I particularly enjoy linking the technical world with the commercial world, a key aspect of my role. My main piece of advice for anyone looking to join the industry is to see as many aspects of the industry as you can – don’t stay where you are if you’ve stopped learning.

Adel Malebana
Senior Social Scientist

My favourite aspect of my role is the opportunities that I have to engage at different levels, from engaging with well-accomplished professionals in boardroom setups, to spending hours on end listening to an elderly woman or man in deep rural villages, to facilitating public meetings made up of hundreds of disgruntled community members due to legacy issues.

No two days are the same, so you have to take each day as it comes and do the best that you can. It gives me great pleasure to share my life with other people through projects, regardless of their social standing, to provide a listening ear, and most importantly to learn valuable life and professional lessons from unexpected sources.

Tinah Kelly
Senior Tailings Engineer

My career started with following my father into architecture before receiving a scholarship and moving from a rural village in Papua New Guinea to Australia to study engineering. What I love most about my job is the opportunity to meet people from different cultural backgrounds, and always having new and interesting projects to tackle. My advice to women starting their careers is to find a good mentor, someone that you are not afraid to make mistakes around.

International Women’s day is important to me because it celebrates the achievements of women around the world overcoming male-dominated cultures in societies and professions.

Sue Reuther
Principal Environmental Consultant

I enjoy working on mining-related environmental and social impact assessment projects because they can be highly complex and technical, triggering a whole range of potential impacts that require integrated and holistic management and analysis involving a wide range of specialist disciplines and stakeholders. Mining projects are often contentious, especially in the context of globally increasing environmental and social awareness, yet remain critical to our lifestyles and economies. The process of identifying potentially sustainable mining solutions is an often challenging but ultimately rewarding process.

My advice to incoming professionals in this field is that it takes time to understand the bigger picture, why things are the way they are and how they can be changed, if needed. Don't be afraid of asking lots of questions, but also always come up with possible answers and solutions yourself.

Sheila Imrie
Principal Hydrogeologist

I started my career in applied mathematics and computer science. I then gained a love for geology which I studied (by correspondence) as a hobby, from where I continued into a full-time hydrogeology master’s degree. The combination set me up perfectly for the challenges and delights of numerical groundwater modelling. I enjoy finding new and innovative ways to solve challenging problems and displaying model results that produce 'light bulb moments' for clients and colleagues.

I’d encourage anyone early in their career to ask lots of questions and open yourself to life-long learning.

 

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