‘Women Who Rock’ will Highlight Experiences of Successful Latin American Women at the Toronto PDAC

Diane Kazarian, Managing Partner, PwC Canada engages in conversation with four remarkable women leaders, representing Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru. These trailblazers will tell their compelling success stories while championing diversity and inspiring the next generation of leaders in the Americas.

Women Who Rock
Women Who Rock is partnering with Women of Influence to shine a spotlight on The Americas Diversity story by sharing the unique perspectives of these four ground-breaking leaders. From left to right, Mexican entrepreneur Veronica Richards, Canadian treasurer hunter and geologist Ashley Kirwan, Argentine agronomist Andrea Grobocopatel, and Peruvian diplomat Ana Gervasi.

Toronto will hold the PDAC, the most important mining convention in the world, from March 3 to 6. The presence of Latin America is increasingly more visible and influential, especially through countries such as Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Chile and Colombia. The main Canadian mining companies have been operating for several years in various mining areas in these countries.

At the same time, the interest to give greater visibility to the role of women in the mining industry has grown in recent years. This has been especially contributed by Women Who Rock, Foundation of diversity and professional inclusion founded by Elena Mayer. Women Who Rock is a key stakeholder in gender dialogue and aspires to spearhead innovative changes that improve the image of mining industry, ignite curiosity about it, and connect aspiring women to leaders in the sector.

This year the Foundation will jointly organize with the Canadian association Woman of Influence the “Americas Powerhouse Luncheon,” an event that recounts the experience of four women leaders from Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru. They will also be hosting “Women of the Americas Powerhouse Summit”. Both events aim to project a cultural transformation with respect to the access and professionalization of women in activities such as mining.

What is the main goal of the Women of the Americas Powerhouse Summit?

We have two ambitious objectives that we are planning to meet with 2 different events.

Women of the Americas Powerhouse Summit Breakfast, taking place on March 3 is focused on mining and telling the stories of four inspiring women from Argentina, Canada, Colombia and Peru. Moderated by Anthony Vaccaro, Chief Editor of the Northern Miner, the event’s objective is to inspire the attendees by personal stories, share opportunities and challenges of gender and mining in the Americas and create channels of exchanging best practices.  It is by invitation only event and meant for an exclusive group of people.

To celebrate the International Women’s Day and bring a cultural exchange, we partnered with Women of Influence, a renowned organization that tells stories of successful women. The Americas Powerhouse Luncheon is meant to bring together four women from Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru from four different industries who will tell their personal stories as well as how their cultural background affect their career. For Women Who Rock, one very important objective is to tell mining story to the general public. As it has been identified, across the globe, mining industry is doing a poor job communicating our positive stories. In order to tell some of these stories, we have created this event. Tickets can be bought on Women of Influence website. For PDAC attendees, there is a special promo code -PDAC99.

What is the role of women in the mining industry in Latin America today?

Historically, women in Canada and of course in Latin America were not allowed to be at mine site as they were considered bad luck. With evolved legislation and equality rights, women enjoy more choices and opportunities. With both events, we would like to discover how each country helps women to build and progress their career and excited to find out what role women have in Argentina, Peru, Mexico and Colombia.

In which way can women be more visible in events such as the PDAC; which is considered the most important mining convention in the world?

Few years ago, gender diversity dialogue was not heard at PDAC. Female pioneers oftentimes share their stories how they needed to grow “thick skin” to attend the Conference. Today, there a number of organizations including PDAC itself who have diversity committees and organize diversity-related events. This year there are a number of activities organized by government, mining companies and NGOs and Women Who Rock is involved in addition to the Americas events.

Most notable are:

At Canada Day, on March 4, Natural Resource Canada is organizing Women’s Leadership in Action panel, where Elena Mayer, President and CEO of Women Who Rock will speak.  More information is here.

The Mining for Diversity and Awards reception organized by Women in Mining Canada and PDAC, taking place on March 5. More information is here.

The Americas Diversity Roundtable, led by Maureen Jensen, Chair and CEO of the Ontario Securities Commission, focuses on what it takes to promote gender diversity and inclusion will take place on March 6.

Elena Mayer
Elena Mayer, founder of Women Who Rock.

The mining industry is usually considered a predominantly oriented male sector. In what way can the presence of women be strengthened at the executive and decision-making levels?

There are many studies done that show that having a diverse management and board members positively affect the “bottom line”.  PwC CEO Survey indicates that progressive leaders take diversity and inclusion serious.

Mining industry leaders finally understand that in order to become competitive and attract and retain the best and the brightest talent, they need to actively engage not only in the diversity dialogue but transform mining into the industry of choice for the next generation. With the help of Ontario Securities Commission disclosure requirements, more and more mining companies welcome female board members and management.

What criteria have you followed to choose the four participants in this conference?

For both breakfast and lunch, we were looking for inspirational women who not only excel in their career but have balanced life where their personal and community lives inspire just as much as their professional life.

Regarding The Americas Powerhouse Luncheon, your organization has secured four professionals from different fields whose stories can inspire other women. Are their stories an exception or are they becoming more common in Latin America?

There are a lot of myths and misconception about a professional career, possibility to follow your dreams and have it all in Latin America. This event is meant to shed the light on the progress the four countries made to achieve gender equity.

What do you think are the main difficulties women of Latin American origin in Canada are dealing with in order to access executive positions in large companies?

I am not a Latin American, but as an immigrant, coming from a very distinct culture (Russia)  than Canada, I would say one of the biggest challenges is adopting the North American corporate culture while being true to your roots. In the early years of my career as a lawyer and newcomer to Canada, finding my corporate identity while still maintaining my personality was my biggest challenge.

What can the Latin American professional women contribute to the business ecosystem of Canada?

In my opinion, any Latin American professional can bring some parts of their culture. Not to generalize, but this part of the world is known for its “colorfulness”, “alegria de vida” and ability to threat between professional and personal linkage. I believe that introducing their culture to the Anglo-Saxon society can truly benefit very formal way to do business.

Juan Gavasa
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Journalist, entrepreneur, writer and Spanish publisher with more than twenty-five years of experience in the field of communications: radio, print and digital. He is a founding member of Lattin Magazine and co-founder of XQuadra Media, a Toronto-based communications startup dedicated to developing creative and strategic content. He has been Editor-in-Chief of PanamericanWorld, a bilinual online information platform created in Toronto with the aim of establishing links between Canada and the Americas. In 1996, he co-founded the communication company Pirineum Multimedia in Spain, dedicated to the development of communication strategies, management of communication projects for private and public companies, web development, cultural events and publishing and advertising production. He specializes in editorial management and is the author, co-author and coordinator of more than twenty books and travel guides.