Engineering & Mining Journal

JUN 2018

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WOMEN IN MINING JUNE 2018 • E&MJ 75 www.e-mj.com executive for fear of the rumor mill among her peers. Finding the solution will require open communication and transparency. Execu- tives will have to walk the talk. Likewise, women will have to seek sponsorship oppor- tunities and set themselves up for success. Overcoming Challenges The outgoing WAAIME Chair Rebecca Siwale, a metallurgist of African descent who also serves as a process engineer for FLSmidth, welcomed everyone to the breakfast. Before she introduced Boyt, she gave the customary safety share, acknowl- edged the panel members and shared her story. "We are here this morning to cele- brate and highlight the commitment [the panel members] have given to inclusion and diversity, and we need more champi- ons in the mining industry," Siwale said. Siwale's mining career started 19 years ago in Zambia. Her father was a miner and she was raised in a mining town. "My parents told me I could do and be anything I wanted," Siwale said. Explaining why she is involved with WAA- IME, she said she wanted to offer encour- agement and be an inspiration to young professionals entering mining or those already working in the field. Siwale was the first female metallurgist to work for the Glencore mines in Zambia. Mining at that time was not a role en- couraged for women, she explained. She pursued a chemical engineering degree and after she graduated, she started her first job with Mopani copper mines. She recalled that first day with clarity. After welcoming her and all the formal intro- ductions, her supervisor called her into his office and said, "We have a small problem. We have no toilets for women." After her first day, she spoke with her father and told him that the new job was going good, but they have no toilets for women. He re- minded her that she was an engineer and engineers solve problems, telling her to go solve this problem and she did. And, she went on to solve many more problems. Management was reluctant to let her serve on the night shift. To manage the entire operation, she felt she needed the evening shift experience and continued to press for it. She was eventually given the chance. "When you enter any man - agement relationship, such as this where they had never had a female metallurgist, it was strange at first, but over time what was strange became normal," Siwale said. "I had an amazing crew of operators and technicians who showed me what I needed to know and do to run an opera- tion. I had peers and managers that sup - ported and challenged me along the way." Siwale's parting messages as WAAIME chair: We will have challenges along the way. We will overcome them. These are the lessons we learn. "Always remember that there are people around you willing to help," Siwale said. "Don't let opportu- nities slip. Forge ahead. Always remem- ber, you are paving the way for the little girls in kindergarten, the high school girls and the young ladies in college." Siwale said she keeps a list of people, mostly women with whom she has interacted, who have coached, supervised or served as role models throughout her career, and then she welcomed Boyt to the stage. Positioning Yourself for Success Boyt opened the session by talking about three female CEOs of Fortune 500 com- panies, saying each rose to their respec- tive levels because they were brilliant, hardworking and manage their careers well. And each of these female CEOs attributed their success to sponsors. A sponsor, according to Boyt, is a mentor on steroids. "A sponsor advocates for you when you are not in the room," Boyt said. "They put your name in the hat for pro- motions. They push you. A sponsor takes people with them to the top." If there is secret sauce for getting into leadership, sponsorship is it. Sponsored employees get 30% more pay raises, pro- motions and stretch assignments, Boyt explained. By definition, a stretch assign- ment is a project or task given to employ- ees, which is beyond their current knowl- edge or skills level to "stretch" employees developmentally. The stretch assignment challenges people by placing them in un- comfortable situations to learn and grow. "People that have sponsors say they are happier with their careers and the pro- gression of their careers," Boyt said. "The downside is that men have four times as many sponsors as women. Women need to understand why and how this happens to break the cycle." Boyt said women first have to deal with their own issues. She quoted research say- ing that women feel like sponsorships are cheating. "Ladies, this is the way the game is played and these are the rules of engage- Outgoing WAAIME Chair Rebecca Siwale shares stories about her career as a metallurgist.

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