Lina Cano Zabala has worked, for the past year, as waste acceptance manager at Séché Group Chile’s Sierra Gorda plant in the Antofagasta region.
What was your career path?
I am Columbian and I arrived in Chile three years ago. First I worked as an administrator in a major meat company in Chile. I first came to the Sierra Gorda plant as a temp, then, one year ago, I was hired as waste acceptance manager. I’ve taken on many responsibilities.
What does your current job entail?
My responsibilities include providing support in various administrative areas, such as human resources, but also monitoring access of lorries to the plant and ensuring they have all the necessary documentation to enter the premises. This is coordinated with the company’s lab to guarantee the traceability of incoming waste and the smooth running of the plant.
What is your fondest memory on the job?
One day, in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, 22 lorries arrived at the same time. The phone was ringing off the hook, the radio never stopped… But one of the drivers, who was really nice, helped me out and said, “If these guys get on your case, I’ll defend you! Don’t panic, take your time—we’ll all have to learn to wait.” The guy didn’t leave my side until the last lorry had gone in, which was his.
This industry is overwhelmingly male. What has your experience been like?
Of course, I had to contend with comments from lorry drivers saying things like, “This is no job for women”. But this never prevented me from being motivated, to taking ownership of my role and doing it well. We coordinate our work with the lab and do everything we can to speed up entry so the drivers can rest.
What advice would you give a younger woman looking to start this type of job?
There is nothing in life that is meant only for men or only for women. We are all capable of performing different tasks, but you have to aim to be the best and achieve it.
Are you passionate about anything in your personal life?
I love cooking, which I find really enjoyable. It inspires me to learn about other countries’ cuisines, try new recipes and, most of all, put lots of love into everything I do, because things always turn out better that way. Before COVID-19, I used to bring my coworkers food I’d made, and they’ve already told me that they can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so I can bring in food again.