Strike while the iron (ore) is hot

Strike while the iron (ore) is hot: one woman’s philosophy

At the Iron Ore Company of Canada, Michelle has broken a lot of barriers - and “moved a lot of dirt” - thanks to three rules for living and working.


A day’s work starts before 7am for Michelle, a superintendent for the Iron Ore Company of Canada in Labrador City, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. It starts with a look back at the previous day — and then trying to make the new day a little bit better.

Michelle’s day involves a whole bunch of moving parts – from travelling around site to talk about safety to tracking progress against targets to checking in with her team.

“I like to go and see things so that I get a better understanding of what people are facing,” she says.  

Michelle was an early example of a woman moving up the ranks at IOC. 

“When I started as a supervisor, I was the only female mine operations field supervisor at IOC at the time,” she says. 

Over her 15-year career, more and more women have joined her, and some of them are also in leadership roles. 

“There was a young woman who said, ‘You know, Michelle, if it wasn't for you, I don't know if I would have gotten the opportunity.’ Not to say that that's right, but it was nice to hear.” 

Strike while the iron ore is hot - Michelle

What is the secret to Michelle’s success? She has a simple but effective work philosophy.

First, when you feel intimidated, jump right in — and discover your true capabilities. Early in her career, Michelle wasn’t sure that she would be able to drive a huge haul truck. Then she got behind the wheel: “And you just find out, I can do this!”

Second, strike while the iron’s hot. While she enjoyed her seven-year stint as a dispatcher —  “the voice on the radio” for truck drivers and shovel operators — Michelle eagerly said yes to a chance to develop her career and move into a role in mine planning. “It was an opportunity for me to learn about decision making – why certain decisions are made and appreciate them,” she says. “I feel like every role has prepared me for the next.” 

The third lesson is to never stop challenging yourself and others. It can be fun, for one thing. Michelle still laughs about the time a truck driver and shovel operator beat her record of moving 72 loads out of a stockpile in one shift. “They pulled it off, despite a flat tire,” she says. And maybe, Michelle admits, despite “slowing them down by putting their truck on standby once or twice”.

There’s a lot more she wants to do, and she’d rather look forward than back. That’s just Michelle.

“There’s still plenty of dirt to move.”