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“Show up, speak up and take a seat at the table” – Christine’s story

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Meet Christine Janse van Rensburg, a Manager from our Africa office. Christine joined us in June 2014 and has had some incredible experiences working with mining clients across Africa. She shares her career highlights with us and provides some helpful advice for women in mining.


 

What type of work do you do for the mining sector?

Since joining Partners in Performance over five years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to work with clients throughout the region – in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Lesotho, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali. These engagements have ranged from cost reduction, capital project optimisation to mining optimisation, debottlenecking and continuous improvement.

My favourite engagements have been those where we get to spend a lot of time with the client and it starts to feel like we’re a part of their team. I work with the client to get results, no matter if it’s inconvenient and unglamorous. I once spent an entire shift on an underground drill rig with the operator, but that was key to unlocking major savings for the client.

On my most recent engagement, we reduced capex estimate for a client’s major plant upgrade project by 34% by facilitating several workshops, evaluating capex reduction ideas and gaining alignment between the project team, EPCM [Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management] and site personnel. 

 

 

What has been the most meaningful moment in your career so far?

I cannot choose just one. Seeing the difference I made in the lives of my clients and the junior consultants on my team makes it clear that I’m part of something bigger than just me. I have worked with several clients who told me that I changed their lives on a personal and professional level and this is part of the firm’s ‘noble purpose’, unleashing the potential of our clients.

So, I’m most proud of the times when I’ve helped people realise what they are capable of, and they have developed the confidence to take on an important project, go for a promotion and progress in their career.

 

What have been the biggest challenges of your professional life as a woman in mining?

The challenge of having it all! Balancing the desire to be a brilliant consultant, but also an involved mother and present wife, sister and friend can be tough. I’m thankful that my leaders have been prepared to have the conversation and see how they can make this work for me.

After having my daughter and returning from maternity leave, we worked together to develop creative solutions that would keep me close to my family, while also providing the challenges and opportunities to grow my career. Flexibility isn’t a problem you solve once – the solution will continue to grow as my circumstances change. I’m thankful to work with people who are open to solving the problem together.

 

What would you like to see change for women in mining (both in the region and more broadly)?

I’d like women to believe in their potential, understand their worth and be optimistic again – believing that it is possible to achieve their career aspirations while still meeting their personal goals.

I want to encourage more women to take on the challenge and break the stereotypes that one day when my daughter steps into this environment, she doesn’t have to work extra hard to prove that she deserves a seat at the table.

I want women to know that other females are cheering them on, that we want each other to succeed and that we will support one another.

 

What is your advice for the next generation of women considering a career in mining?

You don’t have to do everything on your own, reach out and get other people to raise their pom-poms for you.

Don’t let other people tell you that you don’t have what it takes. When they underestimate you, you have the advantage.

Get your hands dirty, you’ll learn so much and it really does pay off in the future.

Show up, speak up and take a seat at the table – don’t sell yourself short.

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