A career in a male dominated world!


Be your own Project Manager

The general perception about mining is that it is a male dominated extractive industry – a view that need not necessarily be taken as a negative. That said, it is an industry that I knew little about despite being born and brought up on the Copperbelt Province of Zambia.

This all changed for me when I was recruited in 2006 by Phelps Dodge Mining (now Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold) to work on a world class copper and cobalt greenfield mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

As a single woman fresh out of college, this was not how I imagined my life would pan out; I was uncertain about what to expect from my first international assignment and began to doubt whether it would be a positive move for my career. I eventually decided to take the risk largely thanks to positive encouragement from my supportive family.

It turned out it was the best decision that I ever made. Here’s why and a brief overview of  what I have learnt (and still learning) in the process.

If you are working in a challenging male dominated environment and would like support get matched with a hand picked mentor!

Often times your biggest hurdle is the best opportunity for success

The DRC assignment opened doors that helped me to change my perspective about mining…male dominated or not. What matters is how one chooses to respond to circumstance. My approach? I considered myself just like ‘one of the guys’ and decided to get involved and learn as much as I could on the job. It was not easy but within that environment I learnt to adapt and find my level of creating value and making positive contributions to my employer. During this time I also studied and successfully completed an MBA and was proud to be part of a winning project team. I also learnt to speak a third language, met my fiancé and got married!

I am currently working on an assignment in Peru, South America – a great opportunity to be part of a green initiative; a cause that I am extremely passionate about. This social project involves construction of a water treatment facility to supply & distribute potable water to residents of the city of Arequipa.

It´s important to dream and have a clear vision for your life

I absolutely love projects! Their uniqueness and environment have had a huge impact on how I manage and live my life today. Projects have targets, schedules, budgets that must be maintained and hurdles that must be overcome in order to achieve the ultimate objective. It’s simple really, mastering the art of successfully completing tasks for each major milestone equates to project completion with all the rewards that come with it. The experiences, adventure and learning curves are invaluable.


We are all Project Managers of our individual lives whether we believe this or not and it is imperative that we develop a clear mission and purpose of what we want to accomplish if we are to emerge successful. We have however, to be true to what we believe in, bold enough to take calculated risks, focus and stay the course.

Author: Semba Collier

Originally a guest post for 3Plus International www.3plusinternational.com 

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