For Monica Soldinger Almefelt, Vice President of Aggregates Europe - UEPG and Manager of Raw Material Supply in Swerock AB, the extractive industry is a field that offers a variety of opportunities for professional development and multilayered experience. She values the unique skills of every man and woman professional, supporting that diversity can enrich the (any) sector’s potential, with the benefit of authentic human interaction!
Q.: The extractive sector is a particularly demanding professional area with a profile that supports modern technological trends yet, identified more by its conservative structure in terms of administration and operations. How/why did you choose this sector as a career path?
Monica Soldinger Almefelt: I work in the aggregates industry in Sweden. I first chose to become a Civil Engineer at Chalmers University of Technology because I was inspired by my dad, who had the same education. After taking this degree, the opportunity appeared to do research and become a PhD in aggregates production, which I thought was very interesting. I have also studied Applied Environmental Law.
What makes me appreciate to work in the aggregates industry (and staying here for 25 years) is the opportunity to work with many different things. Through Aggregates Europe - UEPG (now as 2nd Vice-President and representative of Sweden in the Board, and in different Committees), I have the opportunity to follow and influence the development in the EU in everything that affects the aggregates industry.
I also work with permit applications and to produce environmental impact assessments for quarries and recycling facilities, which includes both law, technology and environmental matters. I am also involved in a number of different research and development projects in everything from optimization of crushing plants, climate calculations (EPD), biodiversity, radiation from building materials, ground vibrations during blasting, to recycling and more. All this provides an opportunity to contribute to the development in the aggregates industry and the great variation means that the work never becomes boring.
I am particularly interested in environmental issues, including biodiversity, and the interest in this subject in the industry has increased tremendously since I started. And last, but not least, most people I meet at work are very nice to spend time with!
Q.: Tell us a little about your experience as a professional in the extractive sector. What challenge(s) have you encountered, hitherto, in your work environment?
Monica Soldinger Almefelt: When I started 25 years ago, I was as a woman in a clear minority, both in postgraduate education (in mechanical engineering) and in working life. Now the proportion of women has increased significantly, probably, among other things, because there has been an increased focus on law, health and safety and environment.
As I mentioned above, I have almost exclusively positive experiences in working life. However, if I should mention something, one might wonder why such a small proportion of the managers at the highest levels / CEOs, are women. It may also be that the women who work more practically, in production, encounter more challenges than I do.
Q.: What we acknowledge and welcome in recent years, is an attempt of the mining industry to set up a direct and meaningful communication channel with the modern societies that are more aware of the sector's pros and cons. In this context, albeit at a gradual pace, women are entrusted with executive level jobs. What are your thoughts about inclusion and diversity in the mining environment?
Monica Soldinger Almefelt: I think it is extremely important with diversity, employees in the aggregates industry should consist of both women and men, and people of different age, background, experiences, and education. This means a greater knowledge base and an increased focus on more areas. It also means that there are significantly more people who can and want to work in the industry. The fact that the level of education is increasing in the industry is also pushing for a positive development. Then of course there will also be more dynamic coffee breaks as the variation becomes greater!
Q.: What are the «critical raw materials» for a woman in this sector to maintain the difficult but essential work-life balance?
Monica Soldinger Almefelt: A balance in life is obviously important for both women and men. A matter of course is a safe workplace, which works well socially and where you do not risk too much stress, to be worn out or accidents. Opportunity to control your working hours makes the life puzzle easier. Freedom of choice regarding whether you want to work from home, in the office and/or travel is also good if this is possible to accomplish. Opportunity to develop in your work and learn new things, I think is an important factor for many to thrive at work, as well as appreciation for work done.
Opportunity to develop in your work and learn new things, I think is an important factor for many to thrive at work, as well as appreciation for work done.
Monica Soldinger Almefelt is the Manager of Raw Material Supply Swerock AB (included in the Peab Group) and 2nd Vice President of Aggregates Europe. She lives in Sweden. She holds a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, a Licentiate of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) and a MSc in Civil Engineering, all from Chalmers University of Technology.
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