Mining for Leaders Series

Q: Tell us a little about your experience and how that has shaped where you are in your career today.

A: I am Serbian and have been in Canada for 22 years now. I have been with SNC-Lavalin for more than 12 years as Project Manager, technical lead and group manager. 

My engineering career began in a mining consulting company in Bosnia and continued with a smaller company in Croatia. At some point in my career, I was working as a teacher in a Technical High School in Croatia. I immigrated to Canada in 1996, and decided to continue my engineering education by obtaining a Masters of Engineering Science degree from the University of Western Ontario (UWO). In 2006, I joined SNC-Lavalin. 

Over the years, I have had the privilege of working with so many great people in the industry, around the world and on many different projects - more than 50 projects domestically and internationally in a variety of geologic settings, environmental and climatic conditions, including cold regions under permafrost, high rainfall and arid climates, active seismic regions, and tropical soil regions in Africa and South America.

Technical skills gained through education and experience have helped me to pursue my career – even to this day. I am always enthusiastic about new projects, tasks, technical problems and I always look for the most effective solution to any problem. These skills continue to help me be a strong leader in my field. It is inspiring to lead a team of people: I like to share my knowledge and experience with my colleagues; sharing all of these ideas gives us the opportunity to grow and to do a better job as a leader. But you have to have a certain amount of experience, a strong personality and self-confidence to take on a role as a leader.

Q: As a successful woman in a male-dominated industry, how have you strived for balance at different times in your career?

A: Over the course of my career, I have chosen to ignore any external obstacles that have come across my path. I never view myself differently than those who surround me – that’s the way I always carry myself. I have never seen myself as a female engineer, but rather as an engineer. 

I believe in my skills, experience and education and that gives me confidence. Through my determination, dedication and perseverance it has lead me to where I am today

I took every opportunity that came my way, although I admit it’s difficult to break out in certain fields, but I never let that stand in my way. Yes, women do have to work harder, especially to prove themselves. A lot of the time, we are underestimated and not taken seriously, and due to this, we are not given challenging tasks or the same opportunities, especially in STEM fields. Things are improving, but we still have a lot of work to do to achieve gender equality. 

Q: What advice would you give to young women pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

A: Go for it!

For the younger generation, their career path should be based on what they are good at and what they are passionate about. There are so many aspects to engineering, and if you go into one particular area and you find it’s not right for you, you can always change field. It’s so broad. 

You have to be flexible.

Engineering is changing rapidly and has become such an amazing environment. You can always shape your career and be better in the future. 

I want young women to understand that they are smart enough and good enough to pursue engineering. It’s a rewarding career. Some female engineers would say it’s not easy, and it’s true: we have to work doubly hard to prove ourselves, but many of us have succeeded.

Being a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) ambassador here at SNC-Lavalin, I have meetings with younger female engineers. It’s an open dialogue/conversation to encourage them to look for opportunities – they are all around.

"I tell them to ask their managers for technical assignments; to take on challenges; and if they should need help/support, to ask for it and not be ashamed. Only persistence and hard work will bring you where you want to be." 

Speak up – you have to ask for what you want! 

I also encourage them to do volunteer work. Building a career is a bit like the chicken and the egg metaphor: to get a job, you need experience; to get experience, you need a job. By volunteering for a couple of months here and there, you can get recommendations. You have to know exactly what you want.

I see things improving for women in the mining industry. The more we promote it as an exciting career option, the more we will attract female leaders and will have a role in changing our representation in the industry for the better.

“We want you to lead. Our teams are agile, collaborative and driven by opportunity. Wherever you are in your career, we have a structure of support and training to help you develop what you need to succeed.”
Atkins Global Careers
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