Back to blog

Female Leaders at Polyus: Olga Mozgunova, Head of Planning and Quality Control department, Polyus Magadan

19 November 2021
Female Leaders at Polyus: Olga Mozgunova, Head of Planning and Quality Control department, Polyus Magadan

Olga Mozgunova’s career started at Natalka more than 25 years ago. She was a student from Khabarovsk state technical university, Magadan branch, and she took an internship on site here. After graduation Olga joined Natalka as an exploration geologist. At that time Natalka was an underground mine. Olga followed Polyus Magadan through the switch from underground to open pit mining and took the position of Mine Planning and Quality Control Director.

For many years Olga has shared her unique experiences and valuable knowledge with neb geologists. She is able to make a forecast and immediately determine the right professional solution. She shares each decision with her colleagues and has a time-honored reputation of mentor in the exploration team at Polyus Magadan. Olga has stamina and strong personality, at the same time she a big heart and a sense of justice; people are keen to take lessons from hear and trust her. She is a soft but responsible mentor. Many of those to whom she has passed her knowledge have achieved professional success.

During her time at Polyus Magadan, Olga worked her way up the ranks from geologist to exploration director; she also held the position of Acting Chief Geologist of the mine. Olga Mozgunova’s professionalism is recognized well beyond her team. In 2020, she was awarded the title of Honored Geologist of the Magadan region.

Why did you choose to become a geologist?

In truth, geology is very a romantic career. I was lucky to experience its romantic appeal when I was a child. When I was 12 I visited a tourist resort in the Matrosova settlement. The club’s leaders took us to extraordinary sites in our region, we went to the Kulinsky waterfalls, stayed at the Kulu river upstream, Jack London lake. Local hunters and fishermen hosted us in their huts, but we also camped. The mine gave us maintenance vehicles for long journeys. We had many trips like that. I can remember singing to the guitar near the bonfire. We often went cycling, and tracking tours were unforgettable and full of adventures. In the May vacation period we went skiing for a few days and stayed in the rangers’ huts.

When I grew up I understood that the romantic part is fine when you are on site for a long time but still there is a family to think of. The dream of geology became secondary and I started to consider other jobs. When applying to university I was asked what I wanted to study. Initially I had wanted to apply for economics and management in geology, but my explanation was confusing and gave the impression that I wanted to study geology, and my mentor helped me file an application. After applying I consulted the bulletin board at the university to see what the code of my field of studies stands for and I realized I applied for the wrong field! I chose not to re-apply and made studies in geology. That is how my childhood dream about geology came true!

So you see, this job is my destiny. Now I know that I made the right choice. I have been quite successful professionally and I have a great team. It is a friendly team, everyone is helpful both in completing work tasks and supportive in times of stress. The fellowship is one of the main features distinguishing the job of geologist. Teamwork skills, ability to be helpful at all times, and mutual support are an unwritten law among geologists. We stay in touch with many former colleagues, exchange phone calls on holidays, and the Day of the Geologist is a major event.

How did you start out at Natalka?

My work at Natalka started when I was a first-year student and took an internship. After that my future career was no longer a question as I knew I had a role at Natalka’s exploration department waiting for me because of the good impression I made in the first year. My colleagues Sergei Mezhov, Vladimir Kostyuk-Spiridonov shared their experiences with me and taught me what they knew, what a geologist should know. Irina Sema, a cartographer, taught me drawings and ink drafting. After the fifth year I joined the exploration department immediately after graduation as an exploration geologist in the underground mine.

What qualities should an ideal boss have?

First and foremost, a good boss must be a good professional and be able to complete work of high quality. This is necessary to gain respect from colleagues, prove yourself and enter the spotlight. The result of the team is largely dependent on the boss’ competence, skills and personality. A good boss is a person capable of leading the team and finding new solutions.

It is important that the boss is respected by colleagues and not feared. When junior colleagues are afraid they make more mistakes, worry about making a faux pas and cannot unleash their potential. Employees are not robots, and need encouraging working conditions to reach fulfillment.

At Polyus Magadan you are a mentor for many new geologists as well as a professional. How did this come about? Did you have to learn to be a mentor or is mentorship your vocation?

I would not say that mentoring is my vocation, it comes about unintentionally — when I am asked for help or professional advice I always tried to explain in simple terms. As a student I had good role models to follow. Both geologists and mine surveyors taught me and gladly gave me recommendations.

What is your advice for young professionals?

Do not be afraid of anything: asking about what you do not know, taking responsibility, showing initiative!

Tell us about your tools. How have they evolved through time?

The traditional main tools of a geologist have always been a brain and a rock hammer. Today we have advanced software, equipment, Micromine, AutoCAD, Mine Vision, Leapfrog, microscopes, cameras at our disposal. A geologist can now take a tablet, upload all the required inputs, browse digital maps.

I remember when we did not have large Xerox devices, plotters to print maps, plan views and large section views. To make a copy we used a device to process a photosensitive paper map with ammonium gas, known as a blueprint due to its color.

What are human values that are most important to you?

Fairness, loyalty, openness, compassion, sense of justice, self-criticism, unselfishness.

What things are most important to you in life?

My family is the most important thing to me. Family is a sense of life, a place where you are loved and waited for. Family are the people who always stay with you, who never betray and cannot live without you. This is the most valuable thing I have. My family gives me self-confidence and robust support.

I would not be so successful without the support of my wonderful husband and daughter. I am proud of my brilliant and caring husband and my beautiful daughter. They support me, help me cope with challenges, and provide assistance.

This interview was originally published at: