Find your voice with the #IWiMSpeakUp Project

Published: 03/01/2017

Expert and author, Monica Ospina, is an advocate for the International Women in Mining’s #IWiMSpeakUp Project, which connects experienced and up-and-coming female leaders with conference organisers to give women a platform to share their experiences and ideas. The aim of the new project is to promote gender diversity in mining sector thought leadership.

Monica’s the Founder and Director of O Trade, a socio-economic development firm specialised in CSR Governance and Social Development for the mining sector. A member of IWiM and WIM Canada, we asked Monica to share her conference speaking experiences and a few tips with us.

By Camila Reed

What’s the value of the IWiM Speak Up project?

The value of this initiative is to give a voice to women in the industry. By opening spaces for women via conferences we’ll be able to learn from the vast knowledge and experience of women who have dedicated their life and career to improving the sector. Unfortunately, very often the industry doesn’t know about them, their ideas, and their contributions.

Why is it important for women to take up speaking opportunities?

Speaking at conferences is far from just a public relations strategy, it is the opportunity to have a voice to raise an issue, to present solutions, to share a different point of view, and best of all, to contribute to our talent. Talent has no gender, age, or race.

If the voices of knowledgeable and talented women are silent, how can we open spaces for the new generation to continue the good work, how can we gain credibility to be part of top management and contribute to making our industry better?

To be clear, speaking at a conference is a great responsibility. If a woman is on stage, the responsibility is even greater, as we are building a path for more young women who are willing to bring their ideas forward.

What was your first conference speaking experience like? How and why did you get involved?

I can barely remember my first speaking experience. I have been speaking for over 10 years on accountability and the responsibility of the mining industry to be an engine for the development of communities directly impacted and as part of a supply chain that starts with us following the industrialisation and manufacturing of most of the goods we consume.

I got involved through colleagues, who thought it was important to share my ideas and educate others about how mining is an engine for development. Sometimes I shared the work we do at O Trade as an example, other times I have been tasked with bringing a different point of view in wider discussions.

My ideas are based on facts coming from years of work on the ground and extensive research. The honesty of my work has been critical in gaining credibility and respect to be able to face an audience.

What did you like and/or dislike about the experience? Any tips?

I like that speaking at conferences has given me an opportunity to share my point of view. I have always done my best to bring honest and educated ideas, so I honour the opportunity and trust that my voice is respected for the quality of my approach. Some might disagree, but no-one would say I was not prepared.

I dislike that sometimes ideas stay in the air too much – too many discussions and little action. But that is human nature, it takes so much time to make things happen.

What advice do you have for emerging female leaders in the mining sector who’d like to get their voice heard at conferences, but may not know where or how to start?

My best advice is to be honest and speak up. If you have taken the time to study your ideas it means that you are ready. So the next step is to give the world the opportunity to learn from your point of view.

At the beginning it might seem difficult and you might feel shy standing up in front of people, but an article in a magazine gives you a voice, an informal gathering gives you a voice, and questions in conferences give you a voice.

You are the only one who controls the honesty and quality of your ideas, and this gives you a great advantage. If you believe your ideas can help others it means you’re ready, so let us learn from your point of view. Your ideas might be different, but success is only achieved when we give ourselves the opportunity to learn from others.

Let us know if you are interested in speaking at events so we can put you in touch with event organisers or if you simply want to share your tips contact:


About Monica

Monica’s an expert in socio-economics, a professor, an author, and a social innovator with proven success in aligning operational productivity and community development in the mining sector, while meeting global sustainability and CSR standards.

Her accolades include:

  • Recognition by the World Bank in 2012 for the Local Community Procurement Programme she authored, which was recognised as one of the Top 15 Innovations that year in the World Bank Procurement Innovation Challenge.
  • Being a contributing author to the Strategic Approach to Early Stakeholder Engagement: Good Practice Handbook in 2013, later published by the International Finance Corporation.
  • Being an expert contributor at the United Nations Global Compact’s Rio +20 Conference in its Working Session on Procurement and Community Development.

Monica also holds a Master’s degree in Diplomatic Studies from the University of Westminster, and has completed postgraduate programmes in International Business Strategy at the London School of Economics and Sustainable Management at Harvard University.


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