top of page

Anna Villerbu, WGC Director

How did you decide on pursuing your degree(s)? Did you know about geology before you entered university?

I have been interested in geology since high school. Before this, I was more into animals. Funny fact, my parents usually say that I was “looking for something in the soil, puttering in the earth” as a child, without knowing what exactly I was thinking about. They also say that during hikes, I was “climbing like a goat”, which is no longer the case!

After high school, I studied geology, biology, mathematics, physics and chemistry for 3 years (2009-2012) at the great schools in Paris (“Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Ecoles”). The standard was extremely high and it has been the most difficult studies I have ever undertaken. I learnt how to work hard and never give up. I had the opportunity to meet the most intelligent people that I know at this school.

I continued with applied geological studies (mineralogy, sedimentology, 3D-modeling, petrology, structural geology, mineral processing, geodynamics, geochemistry, geotechnics, geophysics) for 3 years (2012-2015) in Nancy (France), at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Géologie, where I got a Master’s degree in geology and became an Engineer in geology in 2015. I also studied GIS, geophysics, and mine waste management for 6 months in Lulea (Sweden) thanks to the Erasmus program. It was a great time in Sweden, beautiful country and nice people.

Describe your career progression since finishing undergrad.

During my second year at the engineering school in Nancy, I did an internship in New Caledonia for a Nickel Mining Company for 3 months. I was working as a Junior Geologist in a nickel mine. It was very interesting working in the bush and involved mapping, sampling, doing brownfield and greenfield exploration. I have learnt a lot through this internship.

During my third year at the same school, I worked as a geologist intern for AREVA for 5 months in Kazakhstan in a uranium mine. I was working in the laboratory, conducting chemical tests on cores. This was a real adventure, living in the desert, experiencing low and high temperatures (-20°C and +52°C). The two experiences were different and unfamiliar for me. The culture, the language, the nature, the food, everything was different from everything that I had known before. I really like this kind of experience.

After I graduated, I worked for 5 years in France, at Colas which is a French company, and a global leader in the construction and maintenance of transport infrastructure. I worked as a quarry manager for 3 years after a training period of 16 months. Then I worked as a quarry supervisor for 9 months.

In 2021, I received an opportunity to work in Canada. I packed my stuff and arrived 1 month later in Vancouver. It was the first time that I had an opportunity to travel to North America. I worked for 2 years as a geomodeller for Ero Copper Corp.

I have been working for Equity Exploration Consultants Ltd. since July 2023, doing exploration, logging and field work in the Northern Territories. I am back in the field and this is exactly what I was looking for. Canada is a big mining country and, the right place to be for exploration.

If you could go back to your first year in undergrad, would you pick the same degree and career trajectory? Why/why not?

I would pick the same degree and same career trajectory. I have done 2 jobs so far and they are partly similar, partly different. They have similarities because the quarrying world and the mining world are basically the same, you extract resources from the ground and process it.

But they are also complementary. Working as a quarry manager and quarry supervisor allowed me to improve my management skills such as calculating and managing budgets. It also provided me with an opportunity to manage quality control, operations, land and environmental regulations, drilling and blasting. I was also responsible for safety and I was liaising with different authorities and affected communities, close to the quarry, which in itself can present a challenge at times. I learnt how to ask for help and surround myself with resourceful people. Working as a geologist has taught me technical skills and I have had to refer back to my books more often! It pushes me out from my comfort zone by living in a camp and being far away from my home. I meet a lot of people from different backgrounds and mindsets. This can be refreshing.

What are the three best things about your job/career? What are three things you would change?

Three best things about my career:

  1. Discovering new places, landscapes, and wildlife. I like the “hunt” for rocks and valuable minerals. Traveling and working in remote areas is always a real adventure, and I love adventures!

  2. Talking with people with different backgrounds and different life stories. You need to be open minded and social to live in a camp for weeks which presents an opportunity to meet wonderful people.

  3. The experience of working in a solid and trustworthy team with people who support each other and teach each other in order to reach, a common goal.

Three things I would change:

  1. The problem about gender and being a woman in a men’s world. Things are changing and the industry is moving in the right direction, but it is always frustrating to be met by obstacles that we face as woman.

  2. The fact that companies usually promote people with “hard skills”, people who “make money” and don’t really pay attention to people with “soft skills”, people who care about other people, about the team and not only themselves.

  3. My English proficiency! It is hard for me to express my thoughts and my feelings; it can be frustrating. I am the kind of person who prefers to use the exact word or expression while I speak, but this is sometimes impossible with the English language.

Why is gender balance in mineral exploration/mining/geoscience important to you?

First of all, gender balance is crucial in any industry and any human organization.

In regards to the mining industry, achieving gender balance is very important to attract and retain young women. The mining industry should not allow itself to miss half of the talented individuals because of a lack of diversity and willingness to accept everyone.

Why should it be important for everyone?

The mining industry already needs more valuable geoscientists to face the challenges with climate change and will need all the minds to solve the problems which will come with it. Creativity, innovation, problem solving, team building, teaching, among all others are the keys to face it and women will have to be part of the solution.

What advice would you give to young women starting a career in mineral exploration/mining/geoscience?

What I would say to young women would be to stay connected with people in the whole mining world. Not only people from her field but also people working in related fields (investors, miners, teachers, researchers, geoscientists, bankers, lawyers, etc.) to stay aware of new developments in the industry. Building a strong network with trustworthy people is essential. It takes time, it is necessary to attend several events, like conferences, networking events, webinars, meetings, etc. but it is crucial. Be willing to meet people and don’t be shy. Be part of social groups supporting each other, promote colleagues and another important factor is to find good mentors.

What motivates you and keeps you busy outside of mineral exploration/mining/geoscience?

When I am not working, I fulfill my duties as a Board Member of WGC, I attend as many events related to the mining industry as possible (CIM, YMP, local events like Mining4Beers, Mining Digs Deep, Mining for Toys). I also spend my time hanging out with my friends and with the French community in Vancouver (volunteering or welcoming the newcomers). I also remotely volunteer for my engineering school in France as a member of the Alumni group, working on a project about prevention on how to detect, react and protect ourselves against any type of harassment and sexual assault to help the students (current and former) to manage these situations. Finally, I spend a lot of time connecting with my family, as they are far away from me, and I miss them a lot.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page