Naminata Kramoko – “Nothing is impossible; just start, trust in your potential and it will happen”

August’s Monthly Profile

President of Women in Mining at Newcrest Ivory Coast and a member of WIM Ivory Coast, Naminata Kramoko believes that respect for people, having family support and being determined are crucial to achieving your goals. The business support and database superintendent at Newcrest Exploration has risen speedily through the ranks, seizing every opportunity put her way, while juggling her studies and a young family. Her next stop is Australia. Naminata feels that she is treated as an equal within the male dominated workforce, but initially noticed that nobody listened to her because she was a woman. Things have changed. She tells other women to trust their judgement and not be influenced by others. She says that she’s realised that nothing is impossible. You just need to start trusting in your judgement and then things will happen. As a woman in the mining industry which is dominated by men, sexual harassment has been a significant concern and she would have liked someone to have told her about this before she embarked on her career. She’s now giving advice to all her women trainees and new employees on this. An advocate of women in mining and WIM groups, she says nothing can be changed if we don’t trust and believe. By Camila Reed

How did mining come to you? How did you choose mining as a career?
I didn’t know about the mining industry before going to university. I discovered mining after my baccalaureate, because at that time I had to choose between commerce and mining & geology. I chose the second one because I like sciences. At that time, the mining industry was not known by a lot of women and it was what we commonly call “work for men”. Some people used to tell me this was for men and my reply to them was: “well then I’m a man.”

What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector?
My first introduction to the mining industry was as a student at Equigold as a trainee geologist, then Ity Gold Mine in the Ivory Coast as a metallurgist for a three-month period. I was the only women working in this area of the mine, but the work was interesting and I was offered a permanent position. Then my supervisor moved to Bonikro Gold Mine and offered me a position as a Junior Metallurgist, which I accepted.

During my initial three-month training at Bonikro I worked as a Trainee Laboratory Chemist and enjoyed it so much that they asked me to stay on for the following 12 months. The Exploration Department then offered me a position as a Quality Assurance Quality Control (QAQC) geologist to look after their QAQC programme, having heard from a visiting auditor that I was doing a very good job at the Bonikro Mine in a similar area and had qualified previously with a geology degree. This role progressed into a Database Administrator’s position with added responsibilities in office administration and business support.

I love being involved in the many facets of the mining industry and I find the challenges both stimulating and rewarding. Even though I am a woman I have been given every opportunity to get involved and perform at my best and make a significant contribution in my areas.

I’m the President of Women in Mining at Newcrest and a member of Women in Mining Ivory Coast. Through this opportunity we are able to assist the young women who are also looking to advance in the industry.

Newcrest has recently offered me a secondment to Australia for two years working at the head office, which I am really looking forward to, as it will provide me with my next challenge in the mining sector.

My family has also been a huge support to me throughout each step of my career development, but I do miss my two beautiful babies when I am away.

Have you/do you encounter much discrimination?
The mining industry has a small percentage of women working within it. This number is growing and WIM Ivory Coast is going around schools to inform girls and women about opportunities in this industry.

I personally have a strong character and feel I am treated as an equal within the male dominated workforce. The initial situation which I noticed was that nobody listened to you or followed you because you were a woman. But I continue to talk and do what I think is best and finally they realise I am right. I think all women should trust their judgement and not be influenced by others.

Have you had mentors and sponsors that helped you on the way?
At the beginning of my career I was fortunate enough to have a supervisor who recognised my talents and ambitions to succeed at whatever I attempted.

Recently I have been fortunate enough to have two mentors who have advised and assisted me in my career development in the mining industry. One of them is within Newcrest and the other external. They have been very helpful in providing career advice to assist my future advancement. Recently I was recognised as a Newcrest Ivorian high talent. I had to chat with the Chief Development Officer (CDO) for my career development, and my mentors gave me a lot of advice to be on top of my discussion with the CDO.

I would strongly recommend having a mentor to assist you in your career development where possible.

Could you share one or two challenges you’ve experienced in your career and how you overcame them?
One of my first major challenges occurred in 2011 when I was faced with taking over the management of the exploration database and leading the supervision of approximately 20 male employees. Being inexperienced in this area I had to work hard to learn quickly, show initiative, facilitate discussions with employees to get the best outcomes and make hard decisions when required. My manager was happy with the way I managed this situation. I realised that nothing is impossible, just start, trust in your potential and judgement and it will happen.

The second major challenge in my career came in 2012 when I undertook my Masters’ degree while looking after a two-month old baby and returning back to work after maternity leave: family, work & study! I had to be organised and sleep was limited, particularly after getting my baby into bed because of my studies.

At work, I learned the skills required to train others and then delegate work to my colleagues. At home, I had my sister with me to help where possible and this freed up my time to undertake my studies (thanks to my friend and sister Mamissi).

Respect for people, having family support and being determined is very important to achieving a goal.

What are you passionate about in your work?
I am passionate about people and identifying problems that require solutions.

Helping, supporting, and training people are things I’m passionate about. I love having trainees and being with them, and explaining what I know. I also like assisting other colleagues to solve their problems. In my daily work, people call me when they have issues and I help by giving them solutions that they appreciate. This makes my work interesting because I am always interacting with people. Before, I used to go to my boss when something had to be fixed but now, most of the time I resolve the issue before getting his approval.

I love to work with other departments and external agencies which include: supply, legal, accountancy, human resources, information technology, security, health & safety, database management, laboratories, supplier and government agencies. I’m always happy to be busy.

What would you love to do next?
In six months, I would like to be working in our corporate office and learn about business management, deal structures and finance. And four years later, I would like to come back to the Ivory Coast as Country Manager dealing with mining departments, all administration and who knows where I could be in seven years’ time.

I could be Business Manager Africa coordinating the work for all African countries for a major mining company; I hope for Newcrest as this company has good potential and vision for the future in Africa.

To achieve that goal, I’m planning to do an MBA in Business Administration.

What is one thing you wish you’d been told when you were starting out that you know now?
As a woman in the mining industry which is dominated by men, sexual harassment has been a significant concern. We would have liked someone to have told us about this and given us the necessary skills to combat such approaches. This is one of the areas of advice I’m now giving to all my women trainees and new employees.

Do you sit on a board? If not, would you like to?
Of course I would like to sit on a company board.

What is your opinion in the women on boards debate? Are you pro quotas or against them?
I don’t really mind quotas. The important thing is to have women capable of standing up in front of whoever and presenting her point of view on the direction the company should be advancing and convincing them with sound logic based on experience and knowledge.

Do you believe women in mining groups can help to change the image of the industry and make the sector more attractive to women?
Everything is possible depending on how we start things and do things. Women have to believe in themselves. Nothing can be changed if we don’t trust and believe. The problem with these sort of groups is that the group needs to be accepted by women in the sector first — everyone is always busy so nobody gets involved in the group — and then the groups need support from mining companies and government agencies, which is unfortunately not necessarily the case in Ivory Coast.

But Women In Mining Burkina and WIM Ghana are good examples because they have support from their governments and mining companies, which make their lives much easier. Both Burkina and Ghana have a long history of mining and in time Ivory Coast should be able to improve attracting and supporting women in mining.

Any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
Few words: Work hard, be honest, respect people and do not be scared of anyone or any situation.

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?
I have learnt to work with less supervision and do more than I have to do. Men can see I’m better. I didn’t have to fit the industry because I’m harder working. As a woman, I have an aptitude to help people when they need it and by doing that people learn to respect you and trust you.

How do you find the work/life balance?
I love my two children, Hassan and Rahma, and I have a lovely family and a good job at Newcrest with the best career opportunities. My husband is happy when I advance at work and supports me when I have to travel and be absent from home. My family support has allowed me to undertake all of the work duties that have arisen and also take on new roles and opportunities as they occur.

Have you any hobbies or pass-times you would like to tell us about?
I am very religious and prayer is important to me. Travel and experiencing new regions, people and countries is fantastic but what I love most is to play with my two children.

BIOGRAPHY
Naminata Kramoko was born in Anyama, a small town around Abidjan, Ivory Coast in April 1985. I have 10 brothers and sisters from one father and two mothers. After my baccalaureate, I moved to Yamoussoukro, where I gained my mining diploma in three years and then went on to become an Engineer in Mining and Geology while I was working. I married Karamoko Mamadou in January 2007 when I was 22 years old and still a student. We have two lovely kids: Hassan, five years old and Rahma, almost three years old. I started working at Newcrest in August 2008. I love working with this company because they have good career plans for their employees. I have had a number of positions from initially starting as a laboratory chemist until now where I’m working as a Business Support and Database Superintendent.

 

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