Euridice González – “The most important thing is to recognise when you don’t know how to do something and to want to learn”

Mexican Euridice Salome González Robles is helping shape change in her country’s mining sector and is keen to get women’s voices heard and included in the debate. For her, women complement men’s activities in the workplace. With women on board, there’s not just 50% of possibilities because it’s only the men’s perspective — the world has a complete and panoramic view. But the first thing you need to do to get ahead is believe in yourself and have a desire to learn. Curiosity and a ‘can do’ attitude landed Euridice her first job in mining in 2002 and she’s never looked back. Since 2015 she’s been McEwan Mining’s country manager and director of CSR and her name crops up on a number of top lists as an influential women in Latin America. She says she’s been lucky to have been given many opportunities and support by her bosses. She’s also not afraid to say when she doesn’t know how to do something and to turn to others and nurture the talent in them. So if you are starting out she urges women to get prepared and do what you love as that’s how you will succeed. Along with mining, she manages to fit in time for singing, her Chihuahuas – Barbie and Luna, meditation and physics. By Camila Reed

How did you choose mining as a career?
Mining chose me. I’d been teaching English for 10 years and back then in 2002 not many people spoke the language. A gold mining company arrived in town and was looking for somebody who could speak English and had computing skills and I’d recently been taking a computing course.
I didn’t know anything about mining but my attention was piqued and so I applied for the job of process assistant.

I told them I could do it all, I think that was probably 70% true! Then two days later I went for an interview and they took me to the mine site, which had been under construction for about eight months. I thought “Wow! What’s this?” And fortunately they gave me the job. It was pure curiosity. I fell in love with mining and never looked back.

I began to learn about the processes, flows and the operations and within three months I was up to speed and producing the daily reports. I did this for a year then another year in administration then I moved over to become an autocad drawer, in exploration, then as the coordinator of exploration and then into warehousing and distribution.

After three years they decided to close the mine because of production problems so they got rid of 180 staff and left 10 of us, including me, and they made me the legal representative of the mine. Supposedly this was a temporary three month position but it lasted four years.

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector?
My experience has been marvellous. I’ve had a lot of support and backing. The environment I’ve moved in has always been one of respect, professionalism and support so that I could learn. My managers saw in me a person who could contribute and collaborate and that the mining would be done better.

I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve had no issues with anyone. I’ve heard from other women that they’ve had problems around a lack of opportunities or somebody taking advantage of them. In my case it has been completely different. Until now, I’ve never had any experience of being discriminated against or frustrated because I wanted to do things but wasn’t allowed to.

Could you share one or two challenges you’ve experienced in your career and how you overcame them?
When I was made legal representative of the mine I said to them: ‘I don’t know how to run a mine.’ But as with each other position before when I’d said this they gave me the job and the opportunity to learn new skills.

They said: ‘Don’t worry it’s just temporary and the new owner of the mine will come soon.’
When the new owner arrived I said: ‘Ok so tell me when you’d like me to leave so I can find another job and this went on and on until three months became four years.’

In those four years we did a lot of exploration, which I managed day to day. I hired new staff, restarted the company from almost zero and a year after exploration began we found a new deposit, silver this time, and so we began to develop the project.

We staffed the company with around 200 people plus contractors and worked on making this a top class company with best practice and high environmental standards. We gained a name as a firm which had high environmental norms.

Then in 2011 as gold prices soared the owner said it’s time to get rid of your temporary title and make you permanent and I’m going to make you the general manager and I want you to help me build the mine.

And I said: ‘I don’t know how to construct a mine. But I do know who can help us do this.’
So I brought in professionals and I hired the COO – all above me managerially.
We decided to reconstruct the gold mine and continue to develop the silver project. After this, I was appointed country manager Mexico.

So then once we resumed construction of the gold mine, we hired someone who would operate the technical area of production, but he lasted only two months. So they turned around and said: ‘You will operate the mine. They said you always say you don’t how to do it…’

Anyway, I spent the next three years as country manager, general manager, mine manager.
It was great to learn so many skills. I had many opportunities to continue developing and earnt prestige over the years within Mexico for the work I’d done with the company.

There’s now someone else managing the mine and besides being Country Manager, I was appointed as Corporate Social Responsibility manager. I have more time to promoting mining, so I formed a mining association for the state of Sinaloa that is called CONMIMEX. It gathers all the production chain and gathers mining companies, vendors and professionals in mining. I work more with communities, government and companies to look at different aspects of the supply chain and how we can develop communities economically. We try and bring diversity to what we do.

What are you passionate about in your work?
That everything turns out well! I want everything to function properly and things are done efficiently and excellently and that people excel. The most important thing is to recognise when you don’t know how to do something and to want to learn. I’m willing to learn.

Have you had mentors and sponsors that helped you on the way?
All my managers have been great teachers. My first boss, engineer Isaias Rivera, who pushed me hard to learn initially. Ross Zawada, who was the first person to give me a managerial position and who believed in me and my ability to lead. Then there was Ian Ball, president of McEwen Mining and also Bill Faust who gave me the opportunity to run the mine for some years.

My mother, who’s always told me that I had to make an extra effort and push myself and my Dad who always told me I was the best and that I could do it and to do my best. My daughters Alejandra and Karen who are also my greatest critics! And many friends who provide me with support and colleagues who have shown and taught me, who’ve really known what they are doing.

All I’ve really done through my career is coordinate. My colleagues have been the experts and they have taught me.

What is one thing you wish you’d been told when you were starting out that you know now?
Honestly – nothing! And that’s because I wouldn’t have changed my experiences to date. I believe that the fact that you don’t know something marks a path and helps us on our journeys. When we don’t know how to do something that’s when you are stretched and the essence of a person comes through.

There’s a reason why things happen and if you are spoon fed everything then you never push yourself. The efforts you make every day help you to learn.

What would you love to do next?
Yes I’d like to develop a mining cluster in my state to help develop local skills, talents and get better use of our resources. At the moment I’m studying law and hope to get an international law degree and obviously I’d like to help develop opportunities for women in society not just mining.

What is your opinion in the women on boards’ debate? Are you pro quotas or against them?
I think it’s important to have women at every level in a company and I think that quotas are used now by some countries because there’s a need to make it normal practice for women to be on boards and to create more openings for women.

I see quotas as a good thing because they are a way of opening the door for women but they should not be the norm because the world should have realised by now how much we contribute and complement humanity. Economic forums should be no different, although sadly they are.

Quotas can be tolerated but only because they allow women through the door or glass ceiling. It’s important that we participate because it’s a way to make sure that things function better.

Do you believe women in mining groups can help to change the image of the industry and make the sector more attractive to women?
Yes. Last year we created WIM Mexico and in October we became the first NGO in favour of mining in Mexico. I’ve been a general manager four years and a country manager five and the world of mining is quite small in Mexico – there aren’t that many women and the men have given us support and backed our organisation. When we started there were just three of us in the company and now there are about 30 of us. Every day we identify more and women and we’re building our network.

We’re also taking part in the changes that are happening now in our country in the mining sector. It’s very important that women’s voices are heard. The name of WIM has a lot respect here in Mexico and we are now one of the few groups involved in talks at a governmental level over the future of mining.

We’re not completely sure how many women there are in the sector but according to social security numbers there are 67,000 women in the mining industry. I want to sit down and look through these numbers.

The objectives of WIM Mexico are to promote the group; we want women to be respected in the sector and be considered for any type of job and to create an environment where women feel confident to pursue a career in the industry.

Women in mining groups can definitely help change the image of the industry. If we consider the activities of the industry and how short a time it has been regulated here the image that has largely been created of mining was from that unregulated industry of the past which was mainly managed by men. But today we have a new mining industry with structures, regulations and women.

Having women in mining has helped to change the image of the sector not least because many of the environmental activities being carried out are done by women. Many women in Mexico are involved in environmental protection at mines.

We act as role models and we have created an opening for a different reception from society about how mining is perceived. So I believe it’s good to have a new perspective which is helping to develop the industry and I’ve been told this by the heads of institutions who’ve said: ‘Nobody believes what we say but they do trust you.’

We complement men’s activities in the forums and debates and in the companies we work. We have another view. With us on board there’s not just 50% of possibilities because it’s only the men’s perspective. The world has a complete and panoramic view with us on board.

Any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
The first thing you need to do is believe in yourself. Not to think we are special or different but to recognise we are equal to men and we have the same worth and so we should live life accordingly.
If you believe in yourself you will show it in your work and actions.

So if you are starting out, get prepared and do what you love and that’s how you will succeed and believe in yourself!

How do you find the work/life balance?
For me work and life go hand in hand. Work helps you to develop in many ways for certain aspects of life and your daily life complements your work. You need to balance things and remember that there’s a time to work and a time to relax.

For me it’s not been stressful because I’m good at relaxing and at knowing when I need to work and when I need to take time out. You learn over time how to manage things. At the start of my career work was full and on the conditions didn’t really exist to take much time out. The hours were long, there were no phone lines.

Now everything is perfect and I work office hours and I make sure to take time to visit my mother and my daughters. You have to educate yourself and at the start of your career you may have wild swings but you learn to control things better as you get older.

Have you any hobbies or pastimes you would like to tell us about?
I love to learn and I love watching You Tube videos about how to grow as a person.
I love reading, particularly about physics, dancing, meditating and doing Zumba. And I love to sing even though I do it really badly!

I love listening to podcasts, especially when I’m driving, to catch up and inform myself and then telling my friends and family all about them. And I love my two Chihuahuas – Barbie and Luna – and dressing them up, they’re good company.

Any else that you feel is important that you would like to share?
We need to make the most of life and develop ourselves as people. Not just helping our families and society but ourselves as professional and personal people. Sometimes we limit ourselves or we don’t follow our desires so we need to give ourselves and other women the opportunity to grow and develop and do what we love.

BIOGRAPHY
Euridice Salome González Robles is a mining woman with 15 years of experience in the industry. Ten of these have been in project management and mining exploration, ranging from analysis and business development, to project management from start-up, start-up and development. Appointed in 2007 as General Manager of Compañía Minera Pangea, she became one of the first women in Mexico with the highest executive rank in the sector.

In the middle of 2012, Eurídice González took over the position of country manager in Mexico of the operations of McEwen Mining Inc. She is the founder and President of the Mexican Mining Business Council, CONMIMEX, an institution that gathers formal mining companies in the state of Sinaloa, as well as small miners and suppliers.

In October 2016, WIM Women of Mexico became the first NGO in favor of gender equality and mining in general of the country.

She was named the second most important executive in Latin America and covered in the March 2015 edition by Latin America Business Review. She was also voted one of the 100 Global Most Inspirational Women in Mining in 2016 by WIM UK.
Http://issuu.com/businessreviewamericalatina/docs/bral_march2015_book

Reseña Euridice González
Mujer minera con quince años de experiencia en la industria, de los cuales 10 han sido en el manejo gerencial de proyectos y exploración minera, que incluyen desde análisis y desarrollo de negocios, así como gerenciamiento de proyectos desde arranque, puesta en marcha y desarrollo. Nombrada en 2007 como Gerente general de la empresa Compañía Minera Pangea, se convierte en una de las primeras mujeres con el más alto rango ejecutivo en el sector del país.

A mediados del 2012, Eurídice González toma el cargo de country manager en México de las operaciones de McEwen Mining, Inc. Es la fundadora y Presidenta del Consejo Minero Empresarial de México, CONMIMEX, Institución que reúne a las empresas mineras formales en el estado de Sinaloa, así como a pequeños mineros y gambusinos.

En octubre de 2016 forma Mujeres WIM de México como la primer ONG en favor de la equidad de género y la minería en general del país.

Nombrada la segunda ejecutiva más importante de America Latina y portada en la edición de marzo de 2015 por la revista Latin America Business Review. Una de las 100 Global Most Inspirational Women in Mining en 2016 por Women In Mining UK.
http://issuu.com/businessreviewamericalatina/docs/bral_march2015_book

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