How did you decide on pursuing degree in geoscience? Did you know about geoscience before you entered university?
I went through cegep in Québec not knowing what I was going to do. I took some elective classes in geology, which also had introduction to geophysics. I thought it was interesting, but never thought about becoming a geologist. I started studying physics at University of Montreal and after one year I really loved the classes but couldn’t see myself pursuing a career in one of the physics fields.
I had a summer job in Newfoundland and found out more about the geophysics program they had at MUN. I was told it was a really good university for geophysics, so I decided to apply without really thinking, that was at the end of July. They told me they would most likely accept me as nobody was choosing this program. I was accepted mid-august and moved to Newfoundland at the end of the summer to start geophysics.
On a shorter note, yes I knew a little about geoscience before entering university, but very little.
How did you land your first position? (Through networking, applying to an ad, etc)
I did research for all geophysics companies in eastern Canada and send my resume to all of them. Sander Geophysics called me back for an interview and offered me a position.
Can you briefly describe your career progression?
I started with Sander Geophysics as a field geophysicist. I would spend most of my time in the field on airborne projects. I worked for them for 3 years on various projects in Canadian Arctic and in Africa. I was with them in Gabon and got a job offer from a junior mining company that was working in Gabon. From then, I was offered other jobs from people I had met through the years in different countries in Africa. I worked for 9 years for junior exploration companies as a geophysicist and also did geology work. I also worked for Glencore to run the geophysics program in Republic of Congo and Mauritania and decided to return home after a few years in Africa. I joined Abitibi Geophysics.
How has career progression been handled in your company/ies? For example, is it outlined or have you specifically applied for positions?
In most companies I have worked with there was never really opening for different companies. I have always been given more responsibility based on the experience I had with the company. I don’t remember applying for any position available within the company and I think I prefer it this way. Abitibi Geophysics is a small company compared to some of the mining companies I have been working for. After working there for a few years, some of the employees have been asked if they were interested in buying a percentage of the company, as Pierre Berube the owner is thinking of retiring. A group of us were really interested in the challenge and four of us have accepted and are now partly owner of the company.
If you had to do it again, would you?
Absolutely ! I had some amazing experiences, sometimes I was walking through the jungle in Africa thinking I can’t believe I am getting paid to be here. I have seen amazing territories, met incredible people through the years and I found the exploration business to be extremely interesting.
If you could change anything in your career, what would it be?
Honestly, I am not sure I would change anything.
What are the three best things about your job/career? What are the three worst things?
I had a chance to work for various companies, junior to major and understand both strategy in operations, which really helped me now working as a contractor for those companies. I have visited incredible site areas, jungle of Congo, Mauritania desert, Canadian Arctic. I have been to places that are so remote that I would have never got a chance to visit. I have also met an incredible amount of amazing people. The good thing about being such a small world I get to see them over and over. I had amazing mentors.
I only see one disadvantage, the fact that you are often gone, which makes it very difficult on the family. Now that I have a family I would find it very difficult to be gone on long rotation like I used to do.
Do you see, in either your work space or the industry in general, the place of women becoming more main stream, about the same as when you started, or worse?
I have been in this business for 16 years and I think I see more and more women in geoscience, especially in the young generation, which I think is great.
What advice would you give young women starting a career in geoscience?
Through the years I have learned that women will claim they can do something if they are 125% sure they can master this task, as men would generally say they can do a task when they are 75% sure they can do it. I might be exaggerating, but I think there is some truth in this, so my advise to young women would be to trust yourself and do not hesitate.
Why/How is diversity important to you? Thoughts on what should be focussed on or how to improve diversity within geoscience?
It is not a surprise that the percentage of men is greater in the mining industry and I think it comes mainly from interest. That being said, I think it is important to have diversity because it brings a new perspective. I have often been told while being on a crew full of men that it was nice to have a woman on the crew. I think it was just from having a different approach to things. I think there has been a lot of progress done in mentality, but the discussion still need to be continued to ensure everybody is respectful of this diversity.
I think one way to improve diversity is for men and women to be aware of the issues women might be having, being aware of the problem often helps understanding. I think it is great to have support from other women, but also really help to have the support of men as well.
The mood of a project, is often set by the manager. If managers set the idea of being respectful towards diversity, often the rest of the employees follow this mentality. As men represent the majority of the industry, I think it would really help to get them aware of some of the problems as well.
I think having a group with women in geoscience really help to mentor younger generations, share experience and help finding solutions to problem encountered. .