02 October 2017 0 Comments Posted By : CYNTHIA MARTIN

Maryse Belanger: ‘For me, the world is divided in two – makes sense, doesn’t make sense’

Maryse Belanger, 56, is a geologist and chief operating officer at Atlantic Gold Corp., responsible for strategic development, overall operational and technical management; currently managing construction and commissioning projects in Nova Scotia.

I was born in Chicoutimi, Que. When I was a teenager, I wanted to study French literature – I wanted to be a writer. A sister's boyfriend and a friend studied geology and said I should do it. So, I did a BSc in Geological Engineering at Université du Québec à Chicoutimi – loved it! Then I went to France for postgraduate studies in geostatistics. My first real job was on Vancouver Island for Westmin Resources, then Echo Bay Mines that had great technical people. In Edmonton, I had this epiphany, "this is it – when I'm grown up and a seasoned professional I want to be a vice-president of technical services."

Young people should understand everybody needs a mentor. George Woollett was mine, but a lot of what I learned about dealing with boards, presentations and executives – professional behaviour – I learned from him. He was the biggest influence in my professional life. A few years ago, I called to see if he could meet. We had a four-hour lunch – he was shocked at the things I could quote he'd said over the years.

When the gold industry started going down, I decided I should become a copper expert and learn Spanish. Fluor Corp. sent me to Santiago, Chile. I spent a year working on some of the largest copper projects in the world. Back in Vancouver, I consulted for Echo Bay on projects in West Africa and met (my husband) on an Ivory Coast beach. We eventually moved to South Africa. After our second daughter was born, he finished his work there, two years. I was back in Toronto with our daughters. I told my VP I needed a change, having a mid-life crisis working in Siberia. He asked what I wanted to do; I said, "go to South America." We all moved to Santiago, a great adventure. Late 2009, I was headhunted for Goldcorp to build their technical-services group – full circle from my 1988 dream.

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