A LOSS for the teaching profession was a huge gain for the mining industry in Namibia.

This is the story of Data-Geologist Katrina Ndeyapo Kantene who hails from a small village of Onashiku located in Elim in the Omusati Region and is now employed at Rosh Pinah Zinc Mine.

Kantene was raised by her grandparents in a homestead of 15 people – members of an extended family. Read and be inspired.

Tell us about yourself, who is Katrina

I am Katrina Ndeyapo Kantene, I grew up in a small village called Onashiku located in Elim (Omusati Region). I was raised by my grandparents, in a homestead of 15 people. My daily routines included herding goats and cattle, fetching water and cooking. I graduated from the University of Namibia with an honours degree in Geology. I also obtained a certificate in Data-analysis from University of Cape Town. I am a single mother to a beautiful baby boy. I enjoy travelling and spending quality time with my family.

What Occupation are you in?

I am currently employed as a Geo-data Geologist at RPZC.

Why did you choose this Occupation?

I am passionate about my job and career at large. During my high school times, I enjoyed Geography, and this led me to choosing Geology as a career. Growing up, I was inspired by my late mother and her siblings, so I wanted to study education and become a teacher. However, that changed when I went to high school. At times my family also had a say as ton which field I should pursue, but instead I opted for Geology.

What are the ‘lessons learnt’ if any?

The lessons learnt is to always follow your passion and try to be different from the rest. That made me to be the first female to work in the mining industry in my family.

As a professional Women, do you have any role models that you look up to – both inside and outside your field?

I look up to Sheron Kaviua, our current Vice President Operations. I have learnt so much from her, especially during my PIT program. She taught me about being passionate about your work, never give up, and always strive to stand out and bringing positive changes. Outside my career, I am inspired by Oprah Winfrey. She is a great influencer; she has touched so many lives and have helped young women accomplish their dreams. She also helped in building a school in South Africa, for vulnerable girls and orphans.

Can you tell us a little bit about what your average day looks like for you?

My average day starts at 05:00 am starts with a prayer, and I start preparing for work. I also prepare my baby’s meal before I leave for work. After work, I go to the gym, and later prepare dinner and spend time with my family. During the weekends, I mostly spend time at home or sometimes I would be engaged with other activities.

What are some of your daily challenges, on the job, which are brought about being female, and how do you circumvent them?

Mining has always been considered a very masculine industry due to its heavily male-dominated workforce as well as the physicality of mining work. The mining industry has not been an obvious career choice and preferred place of employment for women; women were mainly employed in administrative and advisory positions. However, this is not the case anymore, since woman are now more involved in decision making and in carrying out physical work.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a woman thinking of embarking on a trade like yours

For any young woman who wants to pursue their career in Geology, I would advise them to go for it. Do not feel intimidated for being a woman, seek the necessary guidance that would prepare you for this man dominated industry, and be open-minded for any criticism and take it as part of your strength.

How do you balance being a mother or wife and professional? What have you sacrificed (both personally and professionally) at each stage of your career?

I always try to plan out my tasks for the day and stay ahead of schedule. Being a mother has helped me to become more responsible at planning and executing my work on time, so that I do not have to spend long hours at work and neglect my family.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s Day is about celebrating woman from all over the world. This day recognizes women’s achievement and raises awareness about discrimination and to take action in driving gender parity.

Is there anything else that you think we may have omitted?

Being a woman has taught me resilient, being brave and to go for my dreams. I encourage other young woman regardless of any hardship you face, never give up and don’t let your circumstances discourage you in achieving your goals.