Sustainability Blog

Female leadership at Polyus: Larisa Savchenko, Assay Lab Engineer

Larisa Savchenko, an Assay Lab engineer at Polyus Research Center, began her career working at the Olimpiada mine 28 years ago. She is one of the most highly respected specialists in the company:

I was born in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, but when I was two my parents moved to Central Asia, so I grew up in a small and convivial town in Kyrgyzstan. After school, I came back to Krasnoyarsk. I have two older siblings and my parents have always been my role models. I have two university degrees; the first in pedagogy and the second in engineering. The transition from one professional field to another came as a result of the country going through the Perestroika period.

As a fresh graduate of a pedagogical university, in 1991 she came to Severo-Yeniseysk. This was a difficult period for the country, and Larisa began work as a part-time nursery schoolteacher in Yeruda, but within a few months she became the school’s head teacher.

In 1992, Polyus acquired the Olimpiada mine, and a number of local nursery schools were merged, meaning question marks over Larisa’s career path came up again. Larisa was not ready to move away from Siberia and Polyus was a stronghold of stability during this period.

The construction of the processing plant at Olimpiada was nearing completion, and Larisa, despite her lack of any technical education, decided to try her luck. She was offered a place as a Lab Assistant at the industrial laboratory. This was a major turning point in her career.

Larisa was offered a job in April and by August she was back in Krasnoyarsk, enrolling in an Environmental Engineering Course at the Institute of Gold and Non-Ferrous Metals as an off-campus student.

Polyus was also changing at the time: new processing plants were being constructed, throughputs were increasing and the workload was growing. Lab specialists took measurements of the air quality in working areas, tested water samples, analyzed industrial waste and carried out environmental protection work.

Larisa soon became deputy head of the laboratory. Following the birth of her second daughter, she moved to Krasnoyarsk to work at Polyus as a Lab Engineer at the Polyus Research Center. Talking about her work, Larisa comments:

When I started work at the Research Center, most of the engineers here were fresh graduates at the start of their careers. Over the past ten years, it is noticeable how much they have grown — in their level of professional training, quality, and attitude to work. They travel a lot to Magadan, Yakutia, and Olimpiada and their advice and counsel is highly respected.

I am now working within the Atomic Absorption Group: we analyze samples delivered by process engineers from the Research Center. I want to highlight the collaboration between all our labs. There is no competition between us — only healthy interaction and cooperation.

Larisa continues:

I have been with Polyus for 28 years and I think this is quite an achievement. I learnt to set and pursue goals and I am very proud of myself. I know that my children seek their inspiration from me.

My oldest daughter is an economist and my younger daughter is still at school. They are both lovely and highly intelligent people with driven personalities, and I know they will have their own fulfilling professional journeys. I can only hope their careers will be as rewarding as mine.