Rebaone Lechuti-Tlhalerwa assumed the position of Geo-Metallurgy Manager in 2014 after working as Ore Processing Engineer for Debswana Diamond Company right after graduating with a Masters’ Degree in Mineral Engineering from the University of Leeds in 2003. As Ore Processing Engineer she was tasked with processing diamonds – separating diamonds from earth. After gaining experience she ventured into the Geo-Metallurgy portfolio where she is tasked with looking at ore treatability and minimising costs. The job involves the studying of geological properties and exploring them to maximise effectiveness of the processing plant. It also involves improving on recovering efficiency. Her career choice, she says, is not by chance as her competitive nature influenced her to venture into mining, a male dominated field because she wanted to challenge the status quo. The tagline in the Debswana scholarship advert which encouraged female candidates to apply won her over.
She had to deal with breaking a few glass ceilings and working twice as hard as her male counterparts to prove that she could excel. According to Tlhalerwa, to make it in a male dominated field one needs to have good interpersonal communication skills in order to facilitate easy understanding and good working relations with the many men who at times feel threatened by females’ presence. Making it big in the mining industry, according to Tlhalerwa, requires one to be assertive and strong-willed, especially if they are female. For example, Tlhalerwa explains that though in Setswana tradition a woman has to be respectful to the men in their lives (e.g. husbands) which at times requires submission of some sort, in a male-dominated environment like mining women have to be assertive and constantly stand up to their male counterparts and make their voices heard. This married mother of three, however, says she is fortunate enough to be blessed with a very supportive family, who understand that her job at times requires constant travel.