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WIM Russia: women and not only

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Interviewed by Natalia Demshina

“Now we are already 2,500 people. The launch of our own award allowed us to attract even more attention to the work of the community, ” says Kamilla Zhalilova, director of the non-profit organization Women in Mining Russia and head of the project office for working with key clients and markets of an international consulting company. The contest “Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry” organized by WIM Russia ended with the presentation of awards and prizes on October 4. All the finalists were invited to Moscow – 63 girls from Russia and Kazakhstan.


— Camilla, how was the presentation of the first Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry award?

– It was an incredibly solemn event, saturated with talents and joy of the girls-finalists. The symbol of the award was a white bird with spread wings – as an expression of freedom, purity, constant striving and upward movement.

The awards were received by 15 winners of the award and another 47 prize-winners in nine categories. Among the winners are Anna Korotchenkova, Director of Research and Development at NLMK; Alevtina Kirsanova – Leading Geologist of the Prospecting Department of Polymetal; Tatyana Bredikhina – Director of the Pokrovsky Mining College of the Petropavlovsk company; Olga Merezhko – Deputy Chief Mechanic of MMC Norilsk Nickel; Agnes Ritter is the technical director of Severstal.

Now, evaluating the results of the award, we want as many talented women in the industry as possible to receive the award, and not only from Russia. Girls from Kazakh enterprises participated in the competition. We invited them to Moscow to present the award.

— Is it planned to make the competition annual?

– The team of the organizing committee, members of the jury, partners of the competition made a lot of efforts. It was not easy, but we will continue and hold the next award in the new year, 2022. I urge girls not to be shy about declaring their achievements!

— How can participation and victory in the award help talented employees of mining enterprises to grow and advance in the future?


– When we first announced the competition, it became clear that many are not sure that the award is for them, that their achievements are enough to win.

Together with the board members of our association, we answered many letters and calls from girls. The companies themselves also campaigned to attract participants more actively. We have specially developed eight main nominations so that every girl can see herself in the competition. The nominations were selected so that both managers and project managers could talk about their successes. By the way, not only women managers can participate in the competition – all employees of mining companies.

Participation and even filing an application is a kind of self-assessment, a look at your own achievements from the outside. And it’s a great tool for identifying strengths and weaknesses! In addition, participation in the competition allowed the girls to meet, be happy for each other, exchange contacts and expand their network.

Of course, we did not let the finalists go without gifts, diplomas and awards. The main thing that the girls received, in my opinion, is universal recognition throughout Russia. This also means the recognition of various technical specialties that girls cope with at the highest professional level.

If we talk about promotion within companies, of course, the award will give new strength and confidence to grow and develop further. The award helps the management of enterprises in the industry to pay attention to new talents that had not been noticed before for some reason.

— Camilla, Women in Mining Russia actively participates in all major industry events. This year, you were a speaker in two panels at the Eurasian Women’s Forum, at Astana Metals and Mining Kazakhstan 2021. At MINEX Russia, you became the moderator of the round table “Work of the future in the mining and metallurgical industry”. What issues were discussed during the discussions, what ideas were proposed by the participants and what conclusions were drawn?

— One of the key tasks of the Women in Mining Russia association is to popularize engineering professions and attract young people to the industry. Currently, there is an acute shortage of personnel in the mining sector. Numerous studies show that engineering specialties are at the bottom of the ranking of the most popular professions among young people.

At the round tables, the largest industry companies talked about programs to attract young people to the industry, about the universities with which they cooperate, about how the introduction of mentoring helps specialists develop. The key conclusion and proposal from the participating companies was that we, as an association, can become an independent platform for discussing and resolving sensitive issues. Once again, the need to share experience and exchange contacts was emphasized.

– In October 2021, you and Daria Goncharova spoke at the Third Eurasian Women’s Forum in St. Petersburg. What ideas did you try to convey to the audience and how did the forum participants react to your speeches?

— I participated in the EWF for the first time and I consider it a big breakthrough for WIM Russia, a great opportunity to express myself. The site itself as a platform allows not only to meet new people, learn about major projects of other associations and companies from around the world, but also to see the scale of the tasks being solved.

We talked about how the WIM Russia community helps to promote the ESG agenda not only in Russia, but also internationally. They talked about the launch of the Ambassadors Club at KGMK (Norilsk Nickel), about the launched beta version of the Multir finder for WIM Russia application.

The results of the work of our association have attracted the attention of the audience, and we have outlined several important strategic steps in 2022. But for now, let’s keep it a secret.

At one of the sessions, we noted a very important point – the need to attract men to participate in the work of the association. Since the industry is traditional and most of the leaders are men, it is important to cascade tasks and show your attitude to the ESG agenda at the highest level. Then the changes will occur much faster and more efficiently.

We know many good examples of male leaders who support and understand the issue of gender balance in companies. We also talk about them in a new series of interviews “WIM Faces” with men. The most progressive enterprises are already implementing an ESG strategy. And it’s not just a popular or fashionable trend. It’s great that the management of companies is aware of this.

— What other significant events for WIM have taken place since your previous interview in July 2021?

— In December, we are launching the Ambassadors Club with our first regional ambassadors in Monchegorsk: Alexandra Nikolaeva, improvement manager, and Daria Ermakova, manager of the operating systems department. These incredibly energetic, inspired girls work at KMMC. With such potential, it’s no wonder they were finalists for the Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry award.


In addition, at the Astana Metals and Mining Congress, at the end of the round table, the first Ambassadors of Women in Mining Russia in Kazakhstan were announced. These are Polymetal Eurasia employees Ainur Bekdairova, Aida Alzhanova, Ainur Baigozha, Dilyara Edenbaeva, whom we have chosen for popularizing the goals of the Women in Mining Russia community in Kazakhstan.

Another important event of the year, which was announced at the awards ceremony on October 4, is that Petropavlovsk Group became a co-founder of the Women in Mining Russia association.

— Has the number of WIM participants increased during this time? How are relations with the management of mining companies developing?

— The number of WIM in Russia participants is constantly growing. Now we have 2,500 people. We continue to develop relationships with the management of the largest companies in the industry. We recently agreed on a partnership with Severstal. The company has organized its Women’s Club, and we definitely have something to share. We will implement joint initiatives, share experience, hold joint meetings and develop new areas of cooperation.

— What are the plans of Women in Mining Russia for the next year or two? What activities would you like to invite women working in mining to participate in? And what activities does your organization intend to participate in?

“Over the next two years, we will continue to work towards achieving key community goals. The launch of the Mentor finder for WIM Russia application will be accompanied by the launch of the Mentor School. The application will be launched internationally, so there is a lot of work to be done.

In March 2022, we will resume accepting applications for the Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry Award. We urge you to start writing applications now or think about which of your colleagues or friends from other companies to apply for participation.


We are happy to further cooperate and participate in MINEX conferences, the Eurasian Women’s Forum, conferences of the Donor Forum. We will be happy to participate in the events of other women’s associations with whom we have become friends: Women in Energy, Woman Who Matters Forum, Women in the Nuclear Industry of Rosatom Corporation, WIM UK and others.

– Camilla, what would you like to address to the readers of our magazine on the eve of the New Year?

“The Talented Woman in the Extractive Industry Award allowed us to see and evaluate our work as an association. We still can’t believe that we were able to organize such a large-scale event. The entire team are representatives of different companies and industries. There were also difficulties, but we supported each other, helped out when it was necessary. And they felt for themselves how our association works.

We are open to everyone, regardless of gender and age, and we want the industry to become attractive to work again and develop on a par with other industries. This can only be done together. Join us!