women in mining
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Partners in Performance is a fast growing international management consultancy. Its Africa practice focuses on the mining and resources sector, where consultants help clients improve safety, increase production, lower costs, and optimise capex.

The company puts a strong emphasis on empowering women throughout its operations.

This article first appeared in Mining Review Africa Issue 7, 2020
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Mining Review Africa caught up with the company’s MD and some of their female consultants to chat about their views on being a women in a still male-dominated industry.

Skipp Williamson, MD

It makes me incredibly proud to work with amazing women and colleagues like Rhian, Helen, Winrie, Nielson, Ashleigh, Supriya and many more who consistently drive transformational change for our clients and are paving the way for other women in the mining industry to succeed and thrive.

By actively supporting and celebrating greater gender diversity in mining, organisations can unlock greater capability and more innovative thinking, leading to better outcomes that impact the bottom-line.

Capturing these benefits starts with understanding the challenges that women face and creating a work environment where they are supported to achieve their full potential.

As a company, we are strongly focussed on creating an inclusive culture where people feel safe to speak up when they see gender discrimination or unfair behaviour, and where women can discuss the obstacles in their path and ways to problem-solve them together.

Rhian Capostagno, Associate Principal

The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the growth in the people I work with across the mining industry. The greatest success for me is hearing from the frontline team how things have improved and seeing them take ownership of the changes to drive results.

I have been a consultant for 24 years and the attitude towards women in mining has improved dramatically in that time. There are more opportunities for women in technical roles and the continued growth in opportunity at high education levels will help to produce more female candidates and increase the balance potential.

Balancing work and family commitments, especially when work requires travel to remote locations, remains a challenge for both women and their employees.

Interestingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that in many situations, working remotely from home is possible, and productive. I view this as an opportunity to forge more flexible work arrangements which could particularly support working mothers.

My advice to women entering the industry is to focus on changing perceptions through performance and building respect for your contributions to the team. Success will flow from there.

Helen Hill, Manager

I work with mining clients to increase throughput and reduce costs. The most meaningful moments for me are often the smaller ones. It is rewarding to really get to know my clients and to share my own knowledge and experience to help them succeed.

I would like to see the number of women working in senior mining roles grow to the point where it is no longer a surprise to see a female general manager, mining manager or head of geology. Our leadership team at Partners in Performance has worked hard to understand the challenges we face as female consultants.

As a company, we have developed an open culture where all consultants, male and female, can feel more comfortable discussing these challenges. My hope is that all workplaces can become more diversified to the point where barriers to women excelling in the industry become a thing of the past.

Winrie Kruger, Manager

I am new to consulting but have been working in the mining industry for 16 years. In my previous position, I was a senior project manager responsible for major project development in the coal mining sector.

During my tenure, we took one underground project from concept to commissioning and three opencast projects to implementation. I often struggled with imposter syndrome, and at times I still have to remind myself that I bring a lot of value to the table and should ‘lean in’ – not only for myself but for my other female colleagues.

Much has changed for women since the start of my career, but there remains a perception that women should adapt to fit into the mining culture. I would like to see the industry become a place where everyone can feel safe to bring their strengths and weaknesses to the table and collaborate.

Nielsen Mafukidze, Associate

My work involves advanced data analysis to draw insights that help our mining clients deliver bottom-line improvements.

As a young mother, one of the challenges I have had to face is learning to balance my family commitments with the demanding nature of mining work.

Last year, Partners in Performance introduced a ‘women in consulting’ series of workshops which helped equip me with the tools and skills to thrive amidst these challenges.

The learnings from these workshops have been instrumental in building my confidence to speak-up and better manage my work-life balance needs.

Supriya Soorju, Associate

I am currently working to assist a client with their response to the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa.

Read more about COVID-19

Our team helped rapidly develop and deploy a surveillance data gathering system in select hospitals designed to provide key stakeholders and front-line healthcare workers with valuable clinical information on COVID-19.

It is rewarding to know that the work you are doing on a daily basis is helping organisations to minimise the impact of COVID-19.

The leadership team at Partners in Performance is actively involved in ensuring female consultants are comfortable working on client sites which are predominantly male dominated.

We have a Women’s Diversity Think Tank comprised of women in the firm from various backgrounds and levels of consulting experience. Leadership consult the Think Tank when making decisions that could affect women in the workplace.

Ashleigh Truran, Business Analyst

One of my most recent career highlights involved supporting a mining client in increasing throughput in their processing plant.

One of their key issues was the visibility of KPIs, so I worked with the client team to set up an automated system to make KPIs visible in time for morning meetings on a daily basis – facilitating greater accountability and problem solving.

I have found it incredibly valuable to hear and learn from some of the more senior women on our team. One of the best experiences I have had at Partners in Performance was attending the ‘women in consulting’ workshop series, which aimed to identify the difficulties women face and help empower us to overcome these challenges.

I was amazed with the support and positive feedback I received from the other women in the room. It helped assure me that we are not alone.