International Women in Mining Profile: Lalao Evelyne Ranjivaharimanana
Lalao Evelyne Ranjivaharimanana is a process safety engineer at the Ambatovy Joint Venture, owned by Sumitomo Corporation, Kores and Sherritt International, in Madagascar. She had always wanted to work in mining, but it took a while to find her perfect job. Following her engineering degree, her career started in the food and chemical industries, before she was appointed in a technical role at Ambatovy, one of the world’s largest lateritic nickel mines, with annual production capacity of 60,000 tonnes of nickel and 5,600 tonnes of cobalt. After five years in process engineering—and heeding her own advice to not be afraid of taking on more responsibility—she applied and was recently selected for a role in process safety engineering at this site. By Kathy Sole
How did mining come to you? How did you choose mining as a career?
I am passionate about mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, which are subjects that I studied in the Materials Science department as part of my engineering degree. I always wanted to work for a company that required engineers and a mining company was perfect for me.
At the beginning of my career, I applied for every opportunity to gain industrial experience but I was looking out for a position in a mining company. After graduation, I worked in fields which were different from mining, namely food science and chemicals industry. During that time, I kept on applying for positions at different mining companies.
I joined Ambatovy Joint Venture in September 2013 as a Process Technician at the Pressure Acid Leach area. In 2016, I was transferred to the refinery area to support the operation as a process engineer. In 2018, I applied as Area Process Safety Engineer and was selected for the position.
Please describe your current role.
My role is to identify process hazards when any process change takes place, assess associated risks, and develop control measures to prevent incidents or accidents. I also provide support to the operation by assisting in incident investigations.
What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector?
As a woman, it is little bit difficult to persuade the team when we have to give instructions.
Have you/do you encounter much discrimination in the workplace or in recruitment processes?
In my company, I do not notice any gender discrimination during the recruitment process. Everyone is treated fairly and the focus of the assessment is on how the candidates’ skills and abilities match the criteria required for the position.
Women have the same chance to be hired as men. In my department, the numbers of women and men are almost the same. Also in my company, there are many women who lead departments.
Have you had mentors or sponsors that helped you on the way?
Yes, at the beginning I was trained by some of my colleagues.
What challenges have you experienced by virtue of working in an industry that is predominantly male? Do you feel you have had to adapt to ‘fit’ the industry?
The challenge is more on the physical work. For example, if you have to climb to the top of a piece of equipment or enter a confined space, you should do it like a man. So, you have to adapt yourself for these types of activities.
What are you passionate about in your work?
Gaining new experiences every day when performing engineering design, safety reviews, or incident investigations. Working with different people coming from different nations with different skills, knowledge, and experiences.
What would you love to do next?
I have recently started the new career of Process Safety Engineer, so I would like to become more involved in the process safety tasks and become an expert in this area. I also plan to follow online courses and obtain professional certification.
Do you believe women in mining groups can help to change the image of the industry and make the sector more attractive to women?
When my manager told me about this interview of woman in mining, only then did I become aware of the existence of this group. So, I started to read some profiles in “100 Global Inspirational Woman in Mining” and I saw successful women from different companies in high level positions. That really inspired me to dig deeper into this area. So this group could really help to make the mining sector more attractive to women.
Any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
• Have confidence in your skills and continue to challenge yourself to become better than the person you were yesterday.
• Do not be afraid of taking more responsibility.
• Set a goal and make a plan to achieve it and you will see that you will overcome any obstacle.
How do you manage your work/life balance?
Managing work/life balance is a big challenge for all women. Despite their work, every woman should take care of their home. For me, my challenge is that my professional life does not affect my family life or vice versa. So I make a weekly plan for my home tasks and for tasks that I can perform during my day off. Before going to work in the morning I ensure that everything is good at home.
At work, I work within my working time and sometimes if I have to extend one or two hours to finish an important task I stay. Apart from my normal vacation, I only take leave in an emergency situation.
Have you any hobbies or pastimes you would like to tell us about?
I enjoy doing nature discovery.
Lalao Evelyne Ranjivaharimanana is a Process Safety Engineer working at the Ambatovy nickel operation in Madagascar. She is a Malagasy woman and speaks three languages: Malagasy, French, and English. She completed an engineering degree in Material Science at the Polytechnic School of Antananarivo Madagascar in 2000. Her initial work experience after graduation was in the food science and chemical industries. In September 2013, she joined Ambatovy as a Process Technician and was assigned to support operations in the Pressure Acid Leach area. In October 2016, she was selected to support operations in the Refinery. In January 2019, she became Area Process Safety Engineer and participates in MI (Major Incident) and SCE (Safety Critical Element) identification at the Ambatovy plant site. In daily life, she likes helping others and enjoys nature discovery.
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