A Sherritt International employee recently recognized for her accomplishments in the mining sector hopes to inspire other people to follow her path.
Poonam Madan is the newest recipient of the Paul Stothart Memorial Scholarship, an honour the Mining Association of Canada hands out every year to innovative individuals pursuing degrees in economics, mineral economics or mining commerce.
Madan, a senior sustainability advisor at Sherritt, is enrolled in an MBA program at Athabasca University. She worked in a number of sectors, including government, energy and the military before starting a job in the mining industry about two years ago.
Madan’s current job duties include advancing Sherritt’s strategies in sustainable mining practices, a complex area that Madan said involves thinking about three related components.
"From a social aspect -- our stakeholders, our employees, our investors, our customers and what are we doing to positively impact that. Our environment, so that's the air, the water, the soil and what are we doing to mitigate impact or improve the environment that we're in. And economic, because all businesses have to create value. I believe that part of my current role includes demonstrating how these practices create value for the business and the MBA makes it easier for me to do that."
The daughter of parents who worked in the trades in a B.C. coal mine, Madan decided while still a teenager that she wanted to use her interest in science to help make the world a better place. She found her passion in environmental science as a student at the University of Alberta.
When it comes to women working in STEM careers (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Madan said there is still room for improvement but also many open doors.
“I think people who love science and want to make an impact and love the business and want to make a change, there is so much opportunity right now. There is so much opportunity in the mining sector.”
Madan hopes that by becoming a leader in the mining industry, she can draw attention to the knowledge and talent that women bring to scientific fields and ultimately encourage others to pursue STEM careers.
For Madan, the words of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela sum it all up.
"As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."
The Mining Association of Canada is the national organization for the country's mining industry. According to the association, Canada’s mining sector employs about 596,000 people across the country.