November 2007

Getting the job done right

By C. Hersey

The participation of women in the minerals industry is on the rise, but at present, women are still greatly outnumbered throughout the industry. However, as we move forward, more and more success stories emerge of great individuals carving out successful careers. Tracy Tremblay is one such example.

At 29 years old and already an area manager for mining contractor Manroc Developments Inc. at Copper Rand mine in Chibougamou, Quebec, Tracy Tremblay has reason to be proud. Born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario, mining was a constant subject as she grew up. Tremblay didn’t dream of being a mining engineer as a child, but having been surrounded by it her whole life, she just “fell into it.”

She studied mining engineering at Laurentian University for four years and landed her first job in Denver in 2002. There she worked as a mining engineer in technical services with Maptek KRJA Systems. She worked her way up and in 2005, moved to her second job and became mine planner for Musselwhite Mine. From there she progressed to her present profession: area manager for Manroc at Copper Rand Mine in Chibougamou. Working for Manroc Developments Inc., she started last year as an engineer and is now managing the division. “My responsibility is to ensure that everything is in place in order to get the job done right,” she says proudly. To boot, the method her team is using, known as Alimak mining, is being used for the first time here in Quebec.

When she first started out, it was a challenge. She admits that there still remains some very old-school mentality about women in the mining industry. There’s a lot of initial skepticism about women being able to do the job well, but she says that it doesn’t take long to prove otherwise. How does she deal with it? “You can’t change how people think, but you also can’t let everything get to you.”

In the time she’s been working, she has seen some resistance from men under her management, but not letting it affect her, and listening, is the key to her success. “Listening gains respect,” she says. If someone may have a better idea or solution to a problem, then open ears and consideration are her way of handling it. This area manager prefers to work more collaboratively as a team over the traditional ‘I’m the boss you’re the worker’ method. Her job is more than technical; management means working with people, and the goal is to keep everyone happy while still getting the job done. She also notes that working for smaller companies is a great privilege. With larger corporations, people tend to get lost in the crowd and become ‘one of the numbers.’ “In smaller companies, you really get the chance to shine.”

Of course, Tremblay does have hobbies outside the world of mining. She really enjoys being outdoors and, at the risk of sounding stereotypical, loves to shop. Not yet settled into the family-with-children scene, she devotes most of her time to her career, working long hours. When the time rolls around to start a family, though, she says her priorities will definitely change. “You make work what you want it to be.” There are always options and ways to make more time for the people who truly matter – the ones you love.

Tremblay feels that she has found not just a job, but a life career, adding that she wants to stay in mining forever. Business is booming and although we’re not quite there yet, there are more and more women getting into the industry every day. She’s quick to point out that there’s not more sexism in mining than in other fields, there are just a lot more men. Women need to open their minds a little more when it comes to career opportunities, expand their vocational horizons. Misconceptions about what mining really is must be addressed. There’s more to mining than ‘living in the bush and digging a hole;’ there are professional opportunities abound. Really, there’s no reason why women should still be a minority in the mining industry, especially in this day and age. Tracy Tremblay, along with many others, is a shining example of how traditional barriers can be broken.

So, what does the future hold for this humble area manager from Sudbury? Well, she’d love to stay in the management field but would like to maybe work with larger teams and, of course, she plans to continue to seek new challenges. Wherever the road takes her, I’m sure she’ll succeed.

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