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Female Leaders at Polyus: Elena Pinkevich, Head of Mining and Environmental Monitoring at Polyus Krasnoyarsk’s Geology Directorate

17 April 2019
Female Leaders at Polyus: Elena Pinkevich, Head of Mining and Environmental Monitoring at Polyus Krasnoyarsk’s Geology Directorate

Ever since she was a child, Elena dreamt of becoming a geologist. She has been successfully living that dream for over 30 years now.

Elena was born into a family of blue-collar workers in the Tselina settlement (Rostov Region). As a girl, she set about working towards her dream from the 8th grade, when she enrolled in Novocherkassk Geological Survey College. The admissions committee recommended her to study Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology, since they considered working as a hydrogeologist to be a more “fitting” profession for a woman than a geologist. Her college group of 24 was made up solely of male students.

Elena graduated with a cum laude and was sent to Krasnoyarsk to join Krasnoyarskgeologiya’s hydrogeological expedition, where she worked for almost 20 years. She attained a relevant degree from the Novocherkassk Polytechnic Institute, studying alongside her job, and participated in hydrogeological and geotechnical surveys at the Titimukhta, Blagodatnoye, Kvartzevaya Gora (Quartz Mountain) and Panimba gold deposits and the Kokui coal deposit. As she was responsible for the supply of drinking and process water to Polyus’ industrial and residential facilities, she also engaged in the study and exploration of fresh groundwater deposits, including Doserovskoye, Polutornikovskoye, Shirokinskoye and Verkhne-Shirokinskoye.

On fellow geologists:

“I like all my colleagues. I guess this is because geology is a commitment rather than a profession. We do not compete with each other — there is simply no room for that. Everyone has their own area of responsibility, and we often work on individual, even creative tasks. We are led by a team of highly qualified professionals, which is important for a healthy team environment.”

On overcoming difficulties:

“There is always a way out. I had my share of hardships. The most challenging period was right after Perestroika, when I was unemployed and running short of money. Getting a second degree opened up new opportunities. I faced danger wandering in the forest at night. Once, while walking almost 20 km alone in the Taiga forest, I ran into a bear. Another time, I fell through ice in temperatures of —45°С. The only way out of such difficulties is to stay calm.”

On her geologist family:

“My entire family celebrates Geologist’s Day. My husband is also a geologist — we met at a drilling rig — and our children followed suit. Our daughter studied Geology in Krasnoyarsk and St Petersburg and now works as a hydrogeologist. For our son, it was only natural to choose a career as a geologist after the number of times I took him to field camps and drilling rigs. We have walked many miles in the Taiga together. He currently works at Olimpiada and studies Geology remotely at Krasnoyarsk State University through a distance learning scheme.”