The profession has a masculine character. But there is no need to be afraid of this.
Our heroine Tatyana Kotareva chose the profession of a geologist in the 9th grade and has never regretted it since then. Tatyana Pavlovna adheres to an active life position and is not afraid of difficulties. In her youth, she decided to enter not the nearest city, where there was a geological faculty, but the Sverdlovsk Mining Institute. Working at Stoilensky GOK, she took on a “public burden” – coordinating the implementation of the mining and geological information system (GGIS). And this year she applied for participation in the contest “Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry” and won in the nomination “Mentor of the Year”.
— Tatyana Pavlovna, how did you decide to enter the Mining Institute? It is said that the profession of geologist is often inherited. As it was in your case: pushed someone’s example, or bribed by the romance of the profession?
– I didn’t have an example, except for my dad – he had a little experience. In the war, teenagers under the age of 18 were sent to study. And he and his friends came to his parents on the same weekend without permission. They were punished for this and sent to the quarry of building stones. And after that, he sang “Hymn of the Geologists” all his life (laughs).
This story was superimposed on the fact that I grew up in the village and nature always fascinated me, including various stones. And already in the 9th grade, I decided that I would enter the Mining Institute. In our nearest city there was only a faculty at the Polytechnic Institute, here I did not want to study and went to the Mining Institute, to Sverdlovsk.
How did your family react to this decision? There was no attempt to dissuade, like, it’s not a woman’s business?
– Nope. My parents just said, “You’re going far away from us, we can’t visit you.” I myself come from the Rostov region, and I went to Sverdlovsk. But no one discouraged to dissuade. Parents were loyal to this.
— What vivid memories are left from studying at the institute? What was more: theory or practice?
“We had a very strong teaching staff. The institute had more theory, but they taught it in such a way that later it was clear how to work in production. Naturally, every summer we had an internship, we were taken to the landfills that belonged to the institute. We were engaged in surveying the area, mapping. Ural is a continuous output of material. Still in all the corridors of the geological faculty there were and still are trays with samples. At recess, we, students, were interested: we will open some tray and compete who will guess the breed, its type. All this was available, no one scolded for it. We collected these samples ourselves during practice. We have always had the task of bringing characteristic types of breeds. Teachers sorted them, and then we all used these materials together.
— How were you met at Stoilensky GOK when you came there after university as a young specialist?
— The impressions, of course, were very interesting (laughs). I was going there for the first time. I did not know the road, it was not easy – before there was no Internet. I figured it out, bought a ticket, but it turned out that the transport does not always go on schedule. In general, I reached the enterprise by the evening. I’m still homeless, I walk into the principal’s office with a suitcase, and I’m like, “Wait, we’re having a meeting.” It’s good that the secretary sympathized with me: she drank tea, explained where to go. I got a job in a dormitory, and the next day I went to the chief geologist. He tested me. I still remember the task: “What will be the picture, if the slate was broken in half and we look at the profile, draw quickly!”. Nothing, I did (laughs). Of course, they could not give me a turn from the gate, I got there by distribution, but I still remember this “check”.
— For a long time, you have remained loyal not only to your profession, but also to your place of work — Stoilensky GOK. There were no thoughts to change anything, and what kept you from changing?
— First, the enterprise is stable. I never had any thoughts of leaving, because the salary for my time was always decent. During the perestroika years, there were reductions, but unemployment did not affect me. On the contrary, I had to work for two or three. It was spurring, adrenaline was enough.
Secondly, the work itself is very interesting. This is nature, and mechanisms, and people who work for them. Every day there are new tasks, and you solve them. There is no routine to get tired of.
— One of your most serious achievements is the introduction of a mining and geological information system at GOK. How did it happen that you decided to do this project?
— I came out of the decree and saw people from the VIOGEM Institute in Belgorod at our enterprise. It turned out that our plant had signed an agreement with him, work was already underway to introduce the GEOMIX information system. Programmers also worked in our department, but few people paid attention to them. We work with documentation until lunchtime and work with documentation before lunch – there wasn’t enough time. And I became interested, and I began to communicate with them. It turned out that they really needed it. Technically, they could make any program, but in order for it to be convenient, you need feedback from the customer. So that we explain what exactly is needed, whether they are moving in the right direction or not, it is convenient or inconvenient to use the system. I took on this work, was in touch with the developers, including by phone, answered questions, tested. For me, it became a public burden. My boss immediately said, “Don’t think I’m going to let you go from your career now.” And now we have digitized all the actions in the geological department. Everyone was satisfied, this program is used not only by geologists, but also by surveyors, planners. And in 2014, I switched to desk work. And in this position, I made sure that all the procedures that have not yet been digitized were also transferred to electronic form. Work continues: the process of introducing GIS in various production areas is underway.
— What did the introduction of GGIS give to the company?
— The main thing for geologists is graphics, plans. We used to draw them with pencils and ink. And some corrections required a lot of time-consuming work. In addition, there is testing, a chemical laboratory. Now we have all this interconnected. From first samples to production planning, it’s all electronic. As a result, we very quickly produce results (analytics, planning) in many variants. And previously, it took 5 days to prepare only one option.
GGIS greatly facilitates the work and interconnection with other information systems. I also participated in the project of introducing an automatic dispatching system (ASD “Career”). This program was bought by the Lipetsk Plant, and we adapted it with the developers for our production. Now we have online data on the operation of quarry equipment. Thanks to this, we supply ore of the required quality. All this is interconnected with our Stoilensky GOK system, and management sees most of the reports immediately from the sensors, that is, manual input is not required. And if we had not switched to GGIS, it would have been very difficult to enter data from paper media.
— Do I understand correctly that Stoilensky GOK was one of the pioneers in the field of digitalization?
– I don’t want to boast, but there is a specific case. One of our young employees went to work in another company outside Baikal as a manager of the highest category. And so he recently called VIOGEM and asked for a presentation on the use of GEOMIX, starting with elementary things, ending with the latest model of the system. We ask why? It turns out that the company seems to be new, progressive, and they still work there manually. After that, some pride takes for our GOK.
— You became the winner in the nomination “Mentor of the Year”. How do you ensure that the new information system becomes understandable to all employees?
– The system, of course, is complicated. If you do not know which button to press, you will never figure it out yourself. Yes, there are instructions, but it is difficult to study them on your own, and in the process of work, not everyone has time for this. Therefore, everything that you learn from developers, some basics, of course, you try to tell your colleagues. Each process that we have digitized, I explain step by step, on the record. Now we have guys in ITR (engineering and technical) positions who have just entered the institute in absentia. They have little not only experience, but also knowledge so far. In the course of communication, I also tell them about geology. Of course, they work, strive, learn. But who will tell them, the correspondence students? Only work colleagues. Young people should not reach what has already been achieved for a long time. This should be a start, and then they will gain experience, knowledge and let them develop further.
— What do you think, due to what you managed to achieve success in the profession?
– At the expense of stubbornness (laughs).
– And yet?
— Knowledge helped, it was not so difficult to join the work as a young specialist. Of course, the team was large, knowledgeable older people suggested something, but in general, the knowledge gained at the institute was enough.
Also natural organizational skills. We work as masters at the polling stations: you need to set up people, give them tasks, show them where to work, correct something every day. It has never been difficult for me to communicate with people, to suggest something, even to point out mistakes.
Now we also explain to specialists who have just come to work: you came young, everyone you have to organize is older than you. Therefore, you need to address by name-patronymic, but on “you”. Otherwise, you will never overcome this barrier in yourself, how to point out to adults. And be sure to check how your request or instruction was executed. I adhere to these principles in my work.
— Do you think your profession has a gender?
There have always been few women in the extractive industry, especially in places like quarry. Probably, such enterprises are attended by those women who can work in a serious, one might say, masculine way.
On the one hand, when there are few women in the team, men always treat them more carefully. But you need to be prepared that they can talk to you in raised tones. If you did something wrong, overlooked it, you need to be responsible for your actions. This is a common phenomenon in the workplace, there is no division into men and women, there is a position and responsibility. But this does not mean that a woman should allow obscene expressions. With me in my entire life, no one allowed themselves to do this. There were conversations in raised tones, but without obscene language. Even if they did not address me, but just heard in conversation, immediately made a remark.
As for career… If a woman, as they say, with brains, is punchy, she will always be noticed. But they are not particularly nominated for high positions. And not every woman will go to work as a head of the site, because this is work day and night, calls and departures. There is no time for the family. Our profession has a masculine character, albeit not to the same extent as the miners.
— What would you wish to young girls who plan to work in the mining industry?
– Do not be afraid that this is a “male profession”. The main thing is that it coincides with your character and lifestyle. It is important to understand yourself: how do you feel about nature, the difficulties of working outdoors. If you choose to work in the extractive industry, you should not pay attention to bad weather. No rain, cold or wind can be an excuse – get out and go to work. And the main thing is that this should not affect the mood, the psychological state. This means that you should not overdo it, go to work through force. Hard? So, you don’t have to go there. And if this is perceived as a normal phenomenon, then everything will definitely work out.
Interviewed by Andrey Khalbashkaev