Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions in West Africa introduced a gender diversity program in 2018. Since then, 19 female engineering graduates have taken part in an intensive 12-month practical training program, 6 of whom are now employed by the company.
Mercy Antwiwaah Arthur, a senior engineer based in Sales Area Africa, shares her own experience of being a female working within the mining industry to help inspire others on the journey:
What attracted you to the mining industry?
My first exposure to the mining industry was via an internship when I was studying for my bachelor's degree. I enjoyed the work and looked for opportunities in the industry when I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer. I found another internship, this time with Sandvik as a Graduate Engineer, and have never looked back!
How has your career progressed?
Following the internship, I was employed as a Sales Engineer: my role was to provide equipment solutions to customers in the West Africa sub-region. I then progressed to the role of Senior Sales Engineer role, where I had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and coordinate some projects.
The success of those projects gave me the confidence to take on greater responsibility and led me towards my current role as Key Account Manager, in which I work with all departments to support two Sandvik key customers in the region – I'm the liaison between Sandvik and those customers.
What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector?
It is enriching to be a woman working in this male-dominated field. It means that I have often had to step out of my comfort zone, overlook prejudices, and strive to exceed expectations. Sandvik's commitment to equal opportunity for all employees, irrespective of gender, has been instrumental in helping me thrive in this male-dominated sector.
Have you had mentors who helped you on the way?
Yes, several people have inspired me during my career to date. They probably don't know what an impact their words and actions have had on my life.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I am passionate about bringing everything to a successful conclusion. For me, the biggest reward is when customers are happy with the products and services we provide.
How can the industry attract and retain more women?
It's good that Sandvik is making sure that females get to see the opportunities that are available to them while they're still studying. If we continue to do this, and other companies do the same, the number of women working within the industry will increase significantly. By offering more internships, female students will discover an interest in the industry and decide to make a career in it, like I did.
Do you have any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
I would say simply, “Believe that you have what it takes to succeed." It's only natural to have some doubts and fears when you start something new, but it gives you the opportunity to grow. Also, it's important not to let other people's opinions influence you: just strive to be a better version of yourself each and every day!