AAMEG Africa Awards: Muza Gondwe Judge Q&A
AAMEG is fortunate to have five highly experienced judges on the Africa Awards panel this year, bringing diverse and wide-ranging experience gleaned from decades spent working in the minerals and energy sectors. One such individual is Dr Muza Gondwe, a partnership facilitator specialising in mining and sustainability who currently holds the position of Project Manager at the Association of Women in Mining in Africa.
Passionate about diversity and inclusion, she has several years’ experience in designing, delivering and evaluating international capacity building programs for government, academic, civil society and industry representatives from Papua New Guinea, Mongolia, Indonesia, Philippines, Zambia, Ghana, Namibia, Nigeria, Guyana and Peru. She has been involved in programs funded by the World Bank, United Nations Development Program and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
QUESTION 1 – What drew you to your current career?
My Dad used to work for the UN and growing up in Zambia it became my dream to build a career where I could help solve global problems. As I got older, I realised corporate companies also serve a unique role in addressing the world’s most pressing civic crises. Big problems need to be solved with a multilateral approach, by bringing many people together. This is why I’m so passionate about facilitating mining and sustainable development partnerships.
QUESTION 2 – Tell us about your experience as a senior project manager for International Women in Mining?
I never set out to be a gender advocate, but I fell into the role at the International Association of Women in Mining and realised that my passion lies in that area. I’ve been involved in a number of initiatives in this role, one being the Unearth Photo Exhibition, a collection of over 40 inspiring visual stories of women in mining from around the world including metallurgists, drillers, buyers, safety officers, geologists, engineers, drafters, environmental scientists and artisanal miners. Another project I’m working on is the Association of Women in Mining in Africa Jewellery Design Competition which is an initiative to identify, celebrate and support African female jewellers—both those living in Africa and in the diaspora. As well as showcasing beautiful Africa gemstones to the world, the project will bring women miners and jewellers together, creating a female led mine-to-market regional value chain.
QUESTION 3 – What is your advice for women aiming to establish a career in the mining sector?
Firstly, I would tell them that mining is so much more than engineering. There is a whole bunch of stuff you can do from HR, to logistics, to law, to finance and social impact. Really, there are many and fantastic opportunities within mining and so many ways to make a difference. It seems there is a misconception that mining doesn’t offer a good work-life balance and therefore doesn’t suit the demands of motherhood for example, but this is not always the case. It really can be a flexible and supportive environment for women across the board if you find a good company it is easy to maintain that balance.
QUESTION 4 –In your opinion, why is it important for Australian companies mining in Africa to adhere to ESG principles?
I think the number one reason is risk. With the advent of social media and increased scrutiny from government and investors, it is difficult to get away with poor conduct. The community has a louder voice than ever and will hold organisations to account if they are doing the wrong thing. Another reason is opportunity. If you follow ESG principles, it makes you trusted in your host communities, which has profound flow on effects. It will make operations easier; it will bring investment opportunities and enhance your reputation. It’s a win-win. It makes you a more profitable and sustainable business.
QUESTION 5 – As a partnership facilitator specialising in mining and sustainability, what project are you most proud of to date and why?
I would say my proudest moment is being involved in creating opportunity for Women in Mining and Energy Indonesia. It wasn’t something we sought out to do, but it was a culmination of developing peoples’ opportunities to network and share experience, and now it has become a fantastic organisation doing amazing things in mentoring, events and raising the profile of women in mining in Indonesia.
QUESTION 6 – From an AAMEG Awards perspective, what does an ESG Award Winner have to embody?
Passion. A real passion for ESG. Not thinking about it as a social license to operate but a chance to create positive, sustained social impact. We are also looking for organisations who think more holistically, where ESG is not an afterthought – but rather at the centre of your operations and feeds into everything you do. It should be a part of the organisation’s culture, coming from the leadership downwards, and all staff should demonstrate a commitment to ESG.