Crispin Pike’s geology career with Vale has taken him from his hometown of St. John’s, Newfoundland, to some pretty unique locations, including northern Manitoba and northern Brazil.
Crispin is an Earth Science graduate from the Memorial University of Newfoundland who has worked at Vale since he graduated in May 2005.
Today, he’s working as a Project Geologist in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, more than 400km north of Vale’s global headquarters in Rio de Janeiro. What a global career!
Vale hires many new graduates each year to start their engineering and geology careers in the company’s Engineer-in-Training and Geologist-in-Training programs, so we asked Crispin to answer some questions about how he got his career started. He answered – all the way from Brazil!
Q. Why did you start your career with Vale?
A. I grew up in Newfoundland and Labrador. I was in school during the discovery of Vale’s world-class nickel deposit in Voisey’s Bay, Labrador. This discovery really drew my attention to the company, for it was a daily story in the local news for many years. Many of my classmates also applied for positions with Vale.
Q. What was the interview process like?
A. I had my interview with Vale on the same day as my very last exam of my undergraduate program. It was pretty exciting to finish school and interview for my new career on the same day. During the start of the interview process, I was pretty nervous, but once it got going, I relaxed and answered the questions well. I just let the interviewers know that I was passionate about my field and eager to learn. I have been with Vale ever since.
Q. How did you choose which Vale location to work at?
A. I based my choice of locations on my technical background. Vale has many options, however the Manitoba Operations in Thompson, Manitoba suited my skill set best.
Q. What is the typical “day in the life” of a young geologist at Vale?
A. One of the best parts of my job is that there is no typical day. My work really keeps me on my toes and is always changing as new developments and new projects come along. The mining industry is highly dynamic. One day I am in the field doing remote work via helicopter, the next day I am giving high-profile presentations in the office with upper management. My work with Vale has literally brought me from the -40ºC temperatures of the sub-arctic, to the +40ºC temperatures of the Amazon rain forest.
Q. What is your favourite thing about your job and working for Vale?
A. My favourite thing about working for Vale is the company’s strong commitment to personal development. I have been supported in my career in every way possible. I was given many opportunities to interact with people from other Vale offices, including travelling to other provinces to give presentations and to receive training. I cannot count the number of conferences and short courses I have attended with Vale. This really keeps me up-to-date with the latest in the industry.
Within the first two years of working with Vale, I was offered the opportunity to travel to one of Vale’s mining districts located in northern Brazil. This was an amazing experience where I learned a great deal. I liked it there so much that I proposed a master’s project on their area. Vale was highly supportive and the next year I was sent to the University of Calgary to start my master’s, and I was able to continue working for Vale!
After returning from my studies, I worked in various Vale exploration camps around Canada. Recently, I was asked to return to Brazil. This is where I live and work now, and the experience is one-of-a-kind.
Q. What surprised you about the mining industry once you started working in it?
A. One of the most surprising things I found about the mining industry was the diversity of the work force. Previously, when I pictured someone who worked in mining, I pictured a scruffy old man singing the Coal Miner’s song. This is far from the reality. The first office I worked in, there were more female geologists than male. There are many young people in the company, but we are not treated differently because of our age – we are given great responsibility which motivates us to grow as professionals. I have met so many people here. Vale truly is a global, diverse company.
Q. What advice do you have for engineering and earth science students a few years behind you?
A. The main thing is to find out what you like about earth science or engineering and focus on that area. If you really enjoy something and focus at it, you will become good at it. Then you will be in a position to get paid to do what you love.