As part of our Careers in Mining series, this post looks at the job of Financial Analyst with Victoria Avila of JDS Energy and Mining Inc.
Victoria was born in Ottawa, ON and completed her Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Ottawa. During her university education, she completed various international internships in Latin America for Canadian companies. After graduating, she joined Export Development Canada’s Undergraduate Program, where she completed rotations in various divisions of the Company. Victoria then spent time working for a Scotiabank’s Corporate Banking division in Santiago, Chile where she was an analyst for multinational public companies. Victoria returned to Canada and relocated to Kelowna in late 2011 and began working for JDS Energy & Mining in 2012. She is fluent in English, French and Spanish and is currently working towards her CPA designation.
What is your main role as Financial Analyst?
My primary role as a Financial Analyst is to prepare economic models used to evaluate mining projects – this means I get to work with all disciplines including mine planning, processing, and infrastructure in order to come up with the most optimal solution for our clients. I find my role very interesting and multi-faceted as I am face-to-face with clients on a regular basis and am able to get an all-encompassing view of the projects we work on.
What came first - a desire to go into mining, or the desire to become a Financial Analyst?
Having a Bachelor of Commerce, I was always interested in anything dealing with the financial side of most industries. When I first graduated from university, I worked with forestry companies but was always interested in the mining industry. I got my first experience with mining companies when I worked in Chile for a Canadian bank’s Corporate Banking division. This allowed me to work with Chilean companies and see what types of opportunities and challenges they faced. It also allowed me to learn how important Canada’s mining industry was on a global scale.
Is your job mostly office based or do you spend more time at mine/exploration sites?
My job is primarily office based – I am very privileged to be able to live in Kelowna and work from both our company’s Kelowna and Vancouver office’s. I travel to Vancouver on a regular basis in order to work with my colleagues and meet with clients as required. I think this is one of the best aspects of my job as I can have the best of both city life and the Okanagan. Our company integrates efficient technology into its day-to-day operations, making it easy to communicate and access information at any time regardless of where I am working from.
Has your job allowed you to travel? If so, where to?
I have been fortunate to have travelled to our Company’s Mexico office in Hermosillo. I have also had the opportunity to travel to visit clients in Arizona. I travel regularly to Vancouver as it is where our engineering office is located.
If you are away from home for extended periods, what makes you the type of person that can do this successfully?
Having to work in Vancouver and away from home on a regular basis can be challenging at times, however, having a flexible and open mindset allows me to be able to adapt to changes as they come. Deciding what aspects of my life are a priority makes planning a lot easier as it allows me to organize my time in terms of what tasks have the highest importance. I definitely enjoy not having a routine as it keeps life and work interesting.
What does your average day look like?
An average day means that no two days are ever the same. Every day presents different learning opportunities and objectives. I have learned that coming in with a “To Do” list for the day is only a guide to what the day will look like. I find this one of the best attributes of my job – the variety of projects I work on, the opportunities we look at on a moment’s notice, and the impact our work has on our clients. Every day I am able to learn something that will make me not only better at my job, but be able to see opportunities that lie within challenges.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far has been entering the mining industry and learning about projects not only in Canada but around the world. Having my university education specialized in International Business, I find it fascinating to see the variety of projects that I come across on a daily basis. I know that the knowledge I am gaining now will allow me to excel and succeed with the Company as it grows as well as add value along the way. I believe the role I am currently in will help me to develop valuable skills which will enable me to be part of the Company’s growth strategy into new areas around the world.
What do you love most about your job?
I would have to say that what I love most about my job are the people I work with. I have learned so much from every single person and have fun at work every day. There are stressful periods at times (tight deadlines, challenging projects), however we always seems to be able to bring everything together to add value to our clients while enjoying what we do. I believe the quality of our work is a reflection of the teamwork and dedication we all bring to the company.
There must be aspects of the job which you don't enjoy so much. What are they?
My position involves receiving information from different people to include in my economic models which always seems to be in different formats. This means I spend a lot of time trying to decipher information to ensure I include the correct data into my models. However, once I start working with the same people on different projects, we work together to find ways to present information in a way that easily understood and also allows us to develop more efficient ways of completing our work. I find that I learn with every project I work on, so I am able to develop techniques to improve the quality of the models we deliver to our clients.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
My advice to anyone looking to enter the mining industry is to learn as much about the industry as possible. I also believe that it is very important to never get too comfortable in a job. Accepting and looking for new challenges along with an open mindset will bring many opportunities and allow you to grow and be a valuable asset to any company.
For more interviews with mining professionals in different jobs, have a look at our main Careers in Mining post.