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From trekking to triathlons: Meet mining expert Aline Cote

Author: Glencore | Date: 11/02/2020

Named as one of Women in Mining’s Top 100 Global Inspirational Women in 2016, Aline Cote currently leads a team of 35 as global head of mining technical services for Glencore’s Zinc business in Canada. She’s also a competitive triathlete - a passion she balances with a busy work schedule that takes her all over the world.

We recently caught up with Aline at our head offices in Baar to find out more about her career, her sport, and what advice she has for young women interested in mining.

Glencore

Aline Cote
Global Head of Mining Technical Services

What made you want to study science?

I always wanted to be a scientist. I loved chemistry and mathematics but also dreamt of exploring the world, which cannot be done from a chemistry lab. I stumbled upon geology as a science that combined applied Sciences with the outdoors and lots of physical activity. Some days you’ll walk ten kilometres across a desert to investigate a rock anomaly, while other days you are deep under-ground at a mine site, and that’s exactly what I wanted.

What does choosing a career in mining mean to you?

You’re not choosing a career, you’re choosing a lifestyle. Only about four people stuck with it from my university class of 200 due to  the demanding nature of the job. You can find yourself at the ends of the earth, alone, for long periods. You can’t be reliant on entertainment if you’re trekking across the Arctic, or in a camp in the bush for eight weeks at a time. You find out very quickly if you love the lifestyle or if you hate it. (And I love it, of course.)

How do you balance your work with being a triathlete?

I need to train between eight and ten hours a week, which is hard when I’m on the road. So, at the beginning of each year I schedule in races for the next 12 months. Once that plan’s in place, the pressure is on – that’s what motivates me. 

Why is this work-life balance important to you?

I couldn’t do my job if I didn’t train for triathlons. My job takes discipline, both mentally and physically. I’m constantly changing time zones and lacking sleep, so I have to be physically fit. But I also do triathlons because they scare me – I never know if I’ll be good enough to race, so it keeps me humble and relieves my stress.

You were the first female chief geologist at Xstrata (now part of Glencore), and you’ve been recognised as one of mining’s most inspiration women. What’s your strategy for success?

I always wanted to do great things, but no matter how good you are, you need mentors. I’ve had three mentors who’ve steered the course of my career; they recognised my ability, coached me to be my best and got me to where I am. I wouldn’t have made it if it weren’t for them, and I have the company culture to thank for that. The best thing about being named as one of the Top 100 Women in Mining was knowing it was my boss who nominated me. It gave me wings and reaffirmed my commitment to the job – knowing that someone had recognised my efforts.

Do you have any advice for young women who are considering a career in mining?

Do it for yourself because you love it, not to prove a point to anyone else. There are always going to be challenges in any industry, for anyone. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because of your gender, or for any other reason.

How would you describe your career in three words?

It’s just starting...!

At Glencore, we believe that diversity is essential to our business. We seek to achieve a diverse and inclusive workforce through: 

  • Preventing discrimination on the basis of gender 
  • Challenging traditional mind sets and encouraging and supporting diversity of thought and experience
  • Building a working environment that provides full and equal participation for all groups
  • Providing flexible working arrangements, part-time employment and job-sharing 
  • Overcoming unconscious bias that may occur in our recruitment processes by searching beyond the traditional skill markets 
  • Respecting local regulations and the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principals at Work
  • Implementing fair and effective performance-based recruitment to ensure we hire the best talent.
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