Arizona Chapter of WIM USA
Julia Potter Spotlight
Academic degree(s): BSc from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, MEng from the University of Arizona
Current employer: Call & Nicholas (CNI)
Current position: Geological Engineer / Shareholder
Current position in WIM: President
What is your academic and career background?
It took me about seven years to complete my undergraduate degree – I spent the first four years deciding whether to major in Women’s Studies or Political Science before settling on Geology. My oceanography professor recommended me for a summer job as a field geology assistant in British Columbia and, before I knew it, I was signing up for three more years of school so I could spend another few summers learning about geology from the geologists I carted around in Zodiacs. I also spent some time mapping in Montana before moving to Tucson in 2010 to accept the position with CNI. I decided to return to school to pursue a Masters in 2016 but worked pretty much full-time throughout.
What do you do in your current role/position?
I specialize in geostatistics and 3D block modeling. My favorite thing about my job is combining my creativity and love of technology to find new and innovative ways of analyzing and presenting geologic data. My clients have included open-pit and underground mining operations at every stage of project development, throughout the southwestern US, northern Mexico, and western Turkey but most of my project work has been focused in central Africa (specifically the DRC). I became a shareholder of CNI in 2018, and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in some of the company’s decision making.
What do you like to do for fun?
What attracted you to the mining industry?
Helicopters! Unfortunately that was a short-lived part of my career :). In all seriousness, I really like the combination of travel (new people/places), science, and technology.
What are some of the challenges you have experienced working in a male-dominated field?
I definitely struggled when I first entered the industry as one of very few females in my firm and in the field in general. I’ve been very fortunate to have great bosses, mentors, and colleagues throughout my academic career and during my time at CNI, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. However, it can be very difficult to see a path to success for yourself when no one at the top (of your company / your industry) looks like you. I was the first female shareholder at CNI so I am very familiar with being an “only” and, while standing out has it’s benefits, it can also be exhausting. I still struggle with feeling like an outsider from time to time, but I’ve also come to really value my unique perspective and I think that’s helped my superiors and colleagues value it as well.
What inspired you to join Women In Mining? What do you hope to accomplish through WIM?
I joined WIM because I think it’s really important for anyone that is part of an underrepresented group to cultivate a support system. The women / people in similar situations / allies I’ve connected with through WIM have been an incredible resource for me when I need advice or just someone to bounce ideas off of and returning that favor when I can has been very fulfilling for me. Getting involved in the organization’s leadership was also an opportunity to introduce myself to new challenges and people. My hope for WIM AZ in 2020 is to support the committee members in finding new and creative ways of providing educational materials / content, connecting people through virtual networking opportunities, and encouraging the next generation by awarding scholarships for the first time this fall.