Mwila Chilekwa has become the first female coordinator for production and management at Kansanshi Mining Plc.
Chilekwa will now coordinate more than 200 workers for production to run smoothly.
Following the emergence of a vacancy for the position of Coordinator–Production, management decided that females be allowed to compete for the position internally as a step towards promoting inclusion and bridging the gap in this male-dominated field. Chilekwa, who joined First Quantum Mining and Operations in 2019 under the local graduate programme as a junior mining engineer, competed against nine other females. “There was a vacancy for the position of Coordinator–Production, and Management specifically wanted a female to occupy the position as a way of promoting inclusion and bridging the gap in this male-dominated field. We have never had a female supervisor in production aside from a few female operators. The position was open to all the potential ladies interested in the role. Ten capable ladies applied for the vacant position and later interviewed, it was an open opportunity and I was picked for the role,” she recalls.
The 31-year-old female engineer draws her strength from working around men and treasures the opportunity of being the first woman to serve in a supervisory role under production, a position that has eluded the women folk in years.
“I am happy and excited because we are coming from a position where we are used that it is just men who can be in such roles, and this is because of the nature of the work itself, I am challenging myself to exceed expectations and break the barriers of only men being in such positions.”
Mwila, a wife and mother of one, says her work at Kansanshi was her first experience after graduating from the Copperbelt University with a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering.
“My experience has been insightful, it has been a learning ground for me because I joined directly from school and in the practical part of the industry, I have learned data analysis and identifying areas of improvement through various projects we are involved in.”
Born from Zambia Air Force retired fighter pilot, Brigadier-General Goodwell Chilekwa and Monica Chilekwa, the second born in a family of three children, prides herself as a motivated engineer whose work around men builds her confidence. “I have been working under optimization, which looks at all mining operations and identifies areas of improvement. Through running different projects I gained technical skills and knowledge in people management and relationships to achieve desired goals, this has helped me in my leadership journey both here and outside because we work with different people,” she added.
Chiekwa is grateful to Kansanshi Mining Plc for making her realize her potential and now wants women in the mining industry not to sit back but compete for leadership positions.
In continued efforts to promote the people-first drive in the working environment, FQM’s Kansanshi Mining PLC has remained consistent in developing women by entrusting them with key leadership positions.