Job title and employer:
Corporate Senior Metallurgist, Teck Resources Limited
What does your job title mean?
I work for a mining company at the head office in Vancouver, BC. My role is to design, optimize and otherwise add value to the chemical and physical processes that we can use to sustainably extract valuable minerals from ore on new mine projects, at mines that we already operate or potential mines that we may want to become involved in. I also get the opportunity to review new technologies that may be game changers in how we mine. Essentially I get to help design, build and operate mines.
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Kitimat, BC and lived there until I finished high school.
Where do you live now?
I now live in Cloverdale, BC and work in the Vancouver Head Office of the company.
Where did you complete your training or education?
I completed my Chemical and Metallurgical, Extractive Metallurgy Technology Diploma at BCIT in Burnaby and completed my Masters in Mining Engineering with Camborne School of Mines at the University of Exeter in England. My masters degree was a distance education program with some on-campus and field work.
What you do at work?
At Teck Resources Limited, I am part of a project team working on the processing part of a mine. Other members of the team are geologists, mining engineers, project managers and financial analysts.
As a Senior Metallurgist my job involves both developing specific projects and supporting other people working on projects. I spend a great deal of time creating laboratory-scale test programs. After we collect data from the test program, we analyze it and prepare a variety of documents including technical reports and PowerPoint presentations. Test programs require math, chemistry and time management skills. Analyzing data involves using a lot of Excel (math), graphing and interpretation. This is problem solving on how the best way to design and build a mine.
As I am often working on multiple projects, I need to be able to categorize and prioritize my tasks and keep them separate.
In my position, I need strong communication skills. I have to be able to present technical information in an understandable way to diverse groups. The groups may include Vice Presidents of my company, engineering firms, laboratories, or elementary school children.
My company has operations in South America so I am now taking a Spanish course. This is so that I have a basic understanding and will be able to work more effectively with the South American based operations.
Safety is a core value of our company. As a result, I spend a lot of time looking at how operations can be completed in a safe and environmentally aware manner.
I use a lot of math, chemistry, physics as well as technical writing to do my job.
How does what you do affect people’s lives?
The world needs metals to advance our technology. We use metals every day in our cell phones, computers and homes. We also need to be responsible in how we get that metal. I feel that how I accomplish my job is important in helping this happen in a safe, sustainable and environmentally aware manner. I am proud of the fact that what I do can make a difference to how this is accomplished.
What motivates you in your career?
I get excited at work when I can help solve a problem. I really like collaborating on ideas where we challenge technology to work in a different way. It’s the ‘What if’ game. When you are in a group of people and bounce ideas off each other sometimes magic occurs.
My superpowers are my math skills and my ability to uncover mistakes in large spreadsheets. I call it a superpower, as I really do not know exactly how I do it. I guess it all boils down to my logical brain.
As a woman in a male dominated industry, I can bring a different perspective to how things are accomplished. My leadership style is to work alongside someone and lead by example rather than dictate how things should be done. I am proud of what I have achieved in my career and that I have become a leader in my field.
How did you get to where you are today?
In high school, I knew I wanted to do something in math or science. My father had always said I could be whatever I wanted and I knew I did not want to be a secretary.
When I was in Grade 12, I had an opportunity to work in an industrial laboratory. The senior chemist recommended a course at BCIT in Chemical and Metallurgical. For me it was a perfect opportunity, as I did not feel I could afford to go to university. I loved that it was a practical education. After the first year, I focused on Extractive Metallurgy (mineral processing).
As I have always worked in the mining industry, my career has had many ups and downs. It has been challenging at times to be a female in a male dominated industry. However, through each change and challenge I have enhanced and expanded my skillset to what it is today. My career has been unique and diverse. It has included site work as an employee and contractor, as well as technical resource work for an industry manufacturer. My career has also included mineral processing design work at an engineering house, consultant type work with a reagent distributor, and finally ending as a senior metallurgist. I have travelled all over the world and visited mines and places that many people will never have an opportunity to visit. I have been accepted in cultures where it is very unusual for a woman to work in my position. I have found this to be very rewarding.
I returned to school and got my Masters in Mining Engineering. I am very proud of that accomplishment and it rounded out my skillset. As well as Spanish, I am also working to improve my knowledge of mineralogy and geology. Geometallurgy and ore body knowledge are my technical specialty. Women in mining are very important to the future development of our resource sector. It is so important to never stop learning and to accept challenges.
What activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I enjoy hiking and weight training to stay active. I also incorporate travel into my hiking when I can. I am pretty introverted so I like to read and knit to relax, it helps my brain slow down.
I volunteer with MineralsEd. This is an educational organization in BC which supports Earth science, mineral resources and mining in schools. I am also involved with Mining for Miracles, a program that fundraises for BC Children’s Hospital as well as other mining organizing committees.
What advice would you give to a young person interested in a similar career?
Never stop learning! Take chances, do not say no, accept the challenge, then ask for help and guidance. Work to your strengths; you do not need to be pushy to get ahead.
As a female professional, how can you influence the advancement of women in engineering and technology?
By mentoring and promoting female colleagues and ensuring that their work is acknowledged is imperative. It is not always easy in a male dominated workplace to be recognized. This is changing but there are still challenges. Be professional and true to yourself.
When I was in high school, I enjoyed…
Literature and English language arts
When I was in high school, I was someone who…
Enjoyed doing things on my own
Liked helping people
Enjoyed working with my hands
Was motivated by success
Liked being given specific instructions
Engaged in volunteer activities
Felt at home in the outside, natural environment
Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
Wasn’t sure what I wanted to do
Engaged in activities such as fishing, berry picking and hunting
ASTTBC thanks Let’s Talk Science for their partnership in developing this career profile. Let’s Talk Science – a leading partner in Canadian education – is a national charitable organization committed to inspiring and empowering Canadian youth to develop the skills they need to participate and thrive in an ever-changing world. To accomplish this, Let’s Talk Science offers a comprehensive suite of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) based programs to support youth, educators, and volunteers across Canada. For more information about Let’s Talk Science, visit letstalkscience.ca.