Every day, Katherine Paico works as a project manager at the Raura Mining Unit, in Peru. Leading a team of 15 people, she heads up solid waste management and domestic waste water treatment plant operations.
What has been your career path?
I started out aged 24, as a Chemical Engineer in a chemical laboratory in the mining sector. I found it fascinating to learn the different analysis methods for each element found in the mine. I did that job for 2 years and was promoted to area supervisor. Then, 3 years ago, I joined Séché Group Perú, a leading player in the environment sector. I knew that with them, I could contribute to the circular economy and sustainable development in my country. I started out as a project manager for the Pampilla contract in Lima. Six months later, I took the lead on the Raura project.
What does your current job involve?
The Raura Mining Unit is located in the district of Huánuco, 4,800 metres above sea level. On this project, we are handling integrated waste management, the operation the domestic waste water treatment plant, and the disinfection of communal areas within the mine. I supervise all aspects of the project, including the safety and quality of our processes, internal logistics and the well-being of the team. It is also my duty to keep the customer satisfied and to propose new solutions to meet its needs. We are a team represented by a majority of men and we work together, knowing that each member has a fundamental role to play in caring for the environment.
What is your best professional memory?
The day the corporate head of Total Waste Management told me we had won a new contract in one of the highest-altitude mines in Peru. He asked me to recommend some people who might be suitable to manage the project. My response was: “Send me!” And he did! He trusted my abilities. It was a real challenge, as it was quite a big project and we started from scratch. But with the support of the whole team at the mine as well as in Lima, we have now managed to get the contract renewed for a further two years.
This is a rather masculine environment. What has your experience been like?
It’s an empowering experience. You get to know yourself a lot better and to realise that you are stronger than you thought. You often have to take decisions and stick to your guns to the end. Anyway, success is based on teamwork. What matters is not your gender, but your skills, your will to learn and to show that you are good at what you do.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out on this kind of project?
To fight for your ideals, stay true to your values and principles, and never doubt your capabilities. Demonstrating your skills and knowledge needs communicating effectively with the people around you, building understanding and trust, being empathetic and, above all, keeping up your passion and commitment at all times. It is also important to maintain a positive attitude.
Could you tell us something you are passionate about?
One of my passions is spending time with animals. On this project there are several puppies and one kitten. The whole team has kind of adopted the kitten. She pays us back with her affection and makes our work days and free moments easier.