Beyond Borders: Why did you choose a career in mining?
Marian Moroney: I chose a career in exploration, specifically geology, because it provided the mix of science, working outdoors, travel and a sense of adventure. I grew up in the days of Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark!
Is there someone who served as a mentor to you and what was the most important thing that you learned from them?
I've been fortunate to have many mentors, from my parents to my past and present supervisors. There is a consistent message: work hard, be grateful and make the most of every opportunity afforded to you. I started on a three-month contract during a downturn on a remote mine site 3,000 kilometers from where my family and friends were. That opportunity has developed into a 24-year career so far.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career?
The biggest challenge was getting that first job; I graduated during a downturn, when graduates were plentiful and jobs were scarce. I mailed over 120 letters (before computers and e-mail) and endured countless — well almost 120 — rejection letters over the subsequent three months. I became extremely disheartened, wondering why I had studied so hard for a degree no one valued. I even contemplated becoming a truck driver, envisioning I could make deliveries to mine sites and that way introduce myself. Luckily, I received one letter that said yes, and from there my career began.
How has the industry changed in its approach and attitude towards diversity since you entered the field?
The biggest change is the awareness of the industry. Nowadays, it's notable if there is a lack of women at any site or level in an organization. Also, the support through organizations such as Women in Mining, as well as articles and statistics about the number of women working in the industry has increased significantly. Diversity within the workplace is now considered integral to a healthy organization, and efforts are being made to strive for such diversity.
What can the industry do better to accommodate change and diversity in your particular area of endeavor?
One of the biggest challenges in the area of geoscience is not restricted to gender, but it has an enormous and immeasurable impact on the industry. During boom times, we as an industry encourage students to study and consider mining as their career choice. Yet, during the inevitable downturns, we have no contingency plans for the bright fresh faces that we convinced to join, let alone the dedicated professionals with enormous institutional knowledge who serve as mentors and supervisors. We then enter the next boom and lack experienced front-line supervisors to guide and mentor the new talent. It's a shame the industry is unable to have foresight to manage talent through these boom-bust cycles.
What are some things that have surprised you about being a woman in a male-dominated field?
The extent to which many male colleagues appreciate a 'female ear' to talk to and seek opinions from. I wish my husband appreciated my opinion as much at times!
What advice would you give to women considering mining as a career?
Go for it!