Mentorship is a key ingredient in advancing women in Mining says Jenny Kalidheen

Published: 09/08/2015

04 AUG 2015

When Jenny Kalidheen first stepped into the diverse world of mining, she had no idea what to expect. One thing was for sure, it was rough, it was rugged, it was mining. Nothing could have prepared her for the realities.

Now after 12 years in the industry and as manager for SHE (Safety, Health, and environment) projects: FEL (Front End Loading) at our Platinum business, Jenny is adamant that those first few years were the most important rite of passage as a miner. “While you need to have your personal path and goals to strive towards, the best place to learn about mining is on a mine,” says Jenny.

Jenny encourages people to know what they are getting themselves into before deciding to pursue a career in mining.  Having an engineering degree doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have to crawl around and get dirty. Quite the contrary, she says you need to work your way up the ranks and that starts at the bottom.

To help Jenny on her career path in Anglo American she was placed on a Fast-Tracking and Personal Development Programme through our Platinum business to help her develop her knowledge, skills and experience while also having access to mentors in the business. 

“The mentorship aspect of the programme I was on played a significant role in my development and I believe in the premise of paying it forward. I now mentor, numerous women across the industry, and I’m an active contributor to Women in Mining South Africa (WIMSA).”

For all those women, and men, looking to build their careers in mining, Jenny recommends that they find a way to visit a mine and see for themselves what it’s all about. There are plenty of organisations such as universities, colleges and WIMSA that can help them arrange a site visit.

For every woman Jenny mentors, she encourages them to mentor two others to pay it forward – building a network of solidarity.

“Through mentorship I believe that all women in mining can help build a better future for their successors as they band together to transform the industry from the inside out, making it more accessible and inviting to people of all genders and backgrounds.”

Jenny has some firm advice and tips for her mentees based on the many discussions she has had with her mentors and successful women in a range of industries combined with general workplace resilience philosophies. This includes:

  • Understand your own values, your strength and your weaknesses;
  • Be clear about your goals;
  • Adjust your thinking style;
  • Take care of yourself physically;
  • Be prepared to work hard, be willing to ‘put yourself out there’ for new challenges;
  • Keep your sense of humour; and
  • Know your industry and join industry groups to promote yourself.

“Essentially, working and thriving in mining is about being yourself – a really super, in-control version of yourself,” concludes Jenny.

To read more about our inspiring women in mining, follow these links:

Patti Wickens – senior environmental manager for De Beers Group
Lerato Tsaoane – vessel manager at De Beers Marine Namibia
Dineo Thulo – safety officer at Coal SA
Diedre Lingenfelder – head of safety and sustainable development at De Beers
Anushika Indraratna – manager of precious metal sales for the western hemisphere at Anglo American