08 Apr, 2024

Interview with Joleen Byers, Principal Engineer

Geologists Day takes place each year on the first Sunday in April. The day recognises the fantastic work of geologists, geophysicists, and geochemists who study the history of the Earth and the composition of rocks, soil, water, minerals, and other materials that are needed in construction and infrastructure.

We asked Principal Engineer, Joleen Byers to share her experience of why she chose Geology as a career and what she enjoys about it.


What made you choose a career in Geology?

I’ve always been interested in science and chose STEM subjects throughout school. After completing my Master’s in Mining Geology and gallivanting around the world looking for gold, I settled into geoenvironmental and geotechnical consultancy in the UK. The great thing about Geology is the open-ended nature of the job roles you can enter – there are always transferable skillsets between niche roles. I chose this as a career because I love the new challenge each project brings, the dynamic between multiple parties to reach a desired end goal and being at the forefront of such an energetic industry.

How long have you been in the industry?

~10 years, give or take a few maternity gap-years!

How did your friends/family react to you choosing a career in Geology?

My family have always been enormously proud of how I have excelled within a typically male-dominated industry, helping to normalise females in STEM careers, but mostly because I have decided to do what I want to do and what I’m interested in, regardless of any obstacles thrown in my way.

You mention it being a male-dominated industry. Have you ever felt daunted by this?

Yes, but it fuelled my determination to be seen and heard as a peer and an equal. As with any career path, my own confidence has increased with experience and learning.

What do you like about working in this field?

It’s often such a cliché, however I do love how every day is different. I love that each new project brings new challenges. I love working within a secure and supportive team and feeling like a valued member of that team. I most of all enjoy the fact that working within this industry allows for continuous learning and development, you are never stagnant within this constantly-evolving industry.

What advice do you have for young women entering the industry?

You don’t have to sacrifice your femininity to be successful - even in “male-dominated” industries. I don’t succeed in my career even though I am a woman, I succeed in my career, period. Be yourself, follow your passion, challenge biased behaviour and most importantly, work in a field you enjoy.

What accomplishments in your career are you most proud of?

I’m proud of working in Mali and the Republic of Congo for 2 years, undertaking remote gold exploration in the rainforest! I’m proud to be an example of a successful female in a STEM industry to young girls eager to enter their own STEM careers.