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Career Profile

Heather Orr

Project Manager
Tailings Dam
Heather Orr | Gestionnaire de projet, digue à stériles
Heather Orr | Gestionnaire de projet, digue à stériles
Education Pathway

Heather Orr is a project manager for Tailings Dam in Ontario.

About me

I was born/grew up in: South River, Newfoundland and Labrador

I now live in: Thunder Bay, Ontario

I completed my training/education at: Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia where I completed a Mining Engineering Degree. I then complete a Project Management Professional certification at Northwestern University Chicago, Illinois, USA.

What I do at work

On a daily basis I interact with the senior management group to give updates on the progress of the construction of the new water management facility. I conduct field tours/audits for the contractors, and sub-contractors. On a daily basis I use math, organization skills, strategic planning and risk mitigation to better streamline productivity. I engage in regular problem solving to address communication break-downs and anything that could impact the production schedule.

I make decisions daily as to the best path forward during construction that will ensure best productivity now and in the long term once both constructions are completed. This daily problem solving require a balance of understanding between cost and schedule for both the contractor and LDI. My background helps me feel more confident that I have collected all the relevant information to make educated decisions and to understand the potential impact of these decisions. I have daily interactions with both upper management of LDI and Contractors I look at budget, schedule impacts, and the short-term milestones for the construction.

My career path is

I completed a mining engineering degree over a four and a half year time period. However, one year of that was a co-op which provided real, on the job experience which counted towards my P.Eng Status. My co-op terms gave me excellent job experience as well as connections and important relations in the mining world.

While I always knew I wanted to do engineering I was not sure which kind. I decided on mining as it was more hands on with less office work and good pay. No one really influenced my career path.

The biggest challenge with working in the mining world is as a woman is being considered an equal to the men you work with. Being vocal means being outspoken or assertive when it’s a man however women are normally looked at as being aggressive or worse. Failures and challenges go hand in hand based on how you see it. It’s difficult to capture how you grow from them but the biggest benefit is by having a mentor and a supervisor who is open to guiding you down the path but not telling you how to do it.

I am motivated by

Pride in what I do is a big factor in keeping me motivated. Keeping the project on track in terms of the schedule and budget and get the best product for the mine site for long term success is very motivating to me. My career changes as I move to new work sites. This means that I have a job in which the people I work with, the places I work, and the job tasks I am assigned are continually changing; I don’t get bored! </p> <p>A career in mining provides flexibility to travel the world if you want it. It also provides you the opportunity to be multi-task trained in many fields and exposed to the many speciality job tasks. The job is also typically pays well which is important if you are looking for adventure, opportunities to travel abroad, or even the ability to pay off your student loans.

How I affect peoples’ lives

The completion of this construction is critical to LDI’s future success to being able to process ore at the mill. If this one construction is not completed it will shut down the mill, and ultimately, the site. This project is vital for our future operations. So, by doing the best job I can do, I’m helping make sure the other workers at the mine will continue their employment and continue to provide for their families.

Outside of work I

I like to cycle, engage in bird watching, travel and relax. When I can, I do some volunteer work in the places where I live.

My advice to others

I never excelled at math on the basic level during my early schooling. However this changed with I got the right teachers to help me. Then I could understand the most complex math for engineers by listening and taking their advice. When they said to review items I did. I listened the hardest to the people who said I could not something. I get great satisfaction from proving people wrong.. I find that as long as I have a good base to build on, I keep learning and widening my experience in the mining field and now project management.

When I was a student, I enjoyed:
  • Drama
  • Geography
  • Home Economic/Family Studies
  • Industrial Arts/Shop Programs
  • Math
  • Music
  • Science
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
  • Played on a sports team
  • Enjoyed working with my hands
  • Engaged in volunteer activities
  • Felt great satisfaction in getting good grades
  • Learned best "by doing"

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