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Olga Aleksandrova, Senior Social Infrastructure Services Specialist at Polyus, shares tips on building a safe and comfortable environment for employees

9 June 2021
Olga Aleksandrova, Senior Social Infrastructure Services Specialist at Polyus, shares tips on building a safe and comfortable environment for employees

Any individual should act responsibly, maintain a positive attitude and follow own life philosophy

Polyus Magadan’s operating site, the Natalka deposit, is located in the Tenkinsky district of the Magadan region, 400 km away from Magadan. The Natalka mine is home to technologically advanced production capacities, developed infrastructure and a shift camp accommodating 3,500 workers. The shift camp comprises convenient dormitories, canteens and green areas.

However, when Olga Aleksandrova started working as a supervisor at Polyus Magadan in 2011, the production was very different from what it is today. At that time, following the transition from underground mining to open-pit operations, large-scale construction of the Natalka mine had just begun. Through their hard work and passion, Olga and her colleagues managed to establish comfortable and modern living conditions for people working away from home and in severe weather conditions. Under Olga’s supervision, 12 dormitories and three canteens were put into operation, a storage room for personal protective equipment was arranged, a dairy line was launched and the area was landscaped and forested. Olga’s colleagues describe her as a woman with a great soul, who is highly respected by her team, able to find a way out of any situation, always there to help, encourage and provide valuable advice.

Greater convenience is my major goal

Since 2020, I have been working as a Senior Social Infrastructure Services Specialist, Administration and Logistics, at Polyus Magadan. Prior to this, I have worked as a social and utility services manager for about eight years. My job is to make sure that people arriving at our site are provided with comfortable accommodation, tasty meals and opportunities to rest between rotations as well as to make sure they smoothly adapt and are able to communicate with their families via high-quality connection. It is also my job to ensure that our facilities are prepared and expanded, becoming more convenient for our employees. This is also my priority.

Growing with the company

There was no administrative department in place when I joined Polyus Magadan. I had to build it from scratch. There were only a couple of on-site dormitories, and I was the only person in the department. By the end of 2011, there were three of us, as I was able to recruit new colleagues. We were expanding our activities: several temporary dormitories were designed, contractors started working on permanent buildings. We were streamlining activities of various departments in terms of stationary supplies, accommodation and meals. Dormitories and two canteens were built in 2012-2014. This was done just in time as the operation was expanding and open-pit mining had commenced, and the number of employees was growing, so we were growing along with the mine.

We established a set of comprehensive activities required for convenient on-site accommodation and introduced several social and utility projects such as new dormitories, canteens and a dairy line.

In the past, temporary dormitories had a corridor-type layout, while the new facility met Polyus’ standards in terms of quality. We obviously did it with loving care. There were, of course, a few pitfalls, as we could not address every possible issue, but will absolutely take into account the feedback and ideas for future projects. When it comes to a new canteen, it is one of the most convenient on-site rooms complete with a large kitchen, a sitting area and high-quality service.

The dairy line at Natalka is a wonderful undertaking. We followed in the footsteps of the Yeruda team (Olimpiada, Krasnoyarsk business unit) as we saw the project rolling out while on an experience-sharing business trip. We liked the idea of having naturally reconstituted milk and dairy products and were eager to establish a line at the Natalka site thus providing our colleagues with fresh and healthy milk products. At the initial stage, we plan to produce kefir and reconstituted milk. In the future, the line can be expanded to accommodate yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream production. Having nutritious and natural milk products is beneficial to our employees working in the highlands, in areas with severe weather conditions.

A human being is of paramount importance in any situation

Last year was challenging for each of us in terms of acting as a united team and protecting staff against the COVID outbreak onsite. We managed to do a lot: arranged observation facilities and mobile hospitals, divided staff into groups and scheduled meal times amid the pandemic. We considerably expanded our responsibilities. Once the pandemic subdues, we plan to utilize the Stop-COVID software developed by our colleagues as a measure to contain the virus spread across the mine site. Acknowledging the significant role of a human being in any situation and undertaking concerted actions have been crucial so outlining the priorities proved them right.

Which projects do you plan to introduce in the short term?

Upcoming projects include providing more green spaces and a convenient recreational area. Equipment assembly, land filling and road concrete lining is currently underway. I think the project will yield a comfortable recreational area with cozy pavilions and beautiful lanterns where anyone can come and relax in the summer time.

You’ve earned the reputation of a strong woman who is always reliable, polite, energetic. What is your secret?

There is no trick. I’m a firm believer that one should not be ashamed of what they are doing. It is also important to treat people the way you want them to treat you. With over 3,000 people on site, you have to find the right balance and be fair towards everybody. It is difficult to adapt to new environments, but it is event harder to live without this skill. Any staff member is an individual with his/her own expectations. My job is to create convenient conditions for everybody.

How do you prepare yourself for a hard job?

There is no need to do it. Working in the food and service sector has been always been associated with numerous issues and only a few ways out. I come across difficulties at every step of the way. I have to explain to people how to behave in the dormitory, what conditions they are getting into, how to react to incompatibility of tempers. It would be wrong to say that some of my work is easy and some is difficult. My work keeps me upbeat. We are prepared to do our best in any situation.

How do you succeed at what you do?

It takes two to tango. There needs to be cooperation within the team. We know who is the best at resolving a certain issue, who is able to work quickly, check and prevent mishaps. The team is our biggest secret. I have nothing to add here.

What are your hobbies?

I like reading, poems especially. I also like adventure fiction. Vladimir Obruchev is my favorite writer, I sometimes reread his books. I also like watching films.

Which personality traits would you say help you at your job?

A person engaged in the service sector needs to have a lot of patience. Sense of responsibility, politeness and a own philosophy are also equally important. Commitment is crucial. If somone replies “No” to my request, I expect that there are strong reasons behind that and a clear explanation provided.

What is the most important thing in your life?

The most important thing for me, as for many others, is my family: my husband, my daughter and my son. By the way, the first two also work at Polyus Magadan. My son works in the city leisure and culture center. When difficult life situation arise, our faith and love are what brings us together and to solve them.