Meet Chantal Jolette, President, CEO and Principal Geologist at Qualitica Consulting Inc.
During her summers of mapping in the field, Chantal realized early on the importance of a properly validated geological database as the foundation for any project. Analytical quality control (QAQC) thus became her primary focus. Working with great mentors over the years, QAQC at all levels became her niche; from greenfield soil samples to mine reconciliation from a sample tower and everything in between. After 15 years of practical experience at various mine sites and exploration projects, Chantal joined Analytical Solutions Ltd. to broaden her QAQC experience around the world and to help clients with site-specific issues. As a natural progression from this work, she followed her entrepreneurial instinct and co-founded Qualitica Consulting Inc. in 2020, a company focused on practical analytical quality control for the complete life cycle of a mining project.
As a PDAC member for over five years, Chantal joined the PDAC Board of Directors in 2020 and brings a unique profile of geological experience, from government mapping to mining operations and now consulting, to bring a fresh and diversified outlook to the PDAC organization. She is particularly passionate about sharing knowledge and experience with the next generation to raise the profile of the mining industry through innovation and out of the box thinking.
What did you study and how did you end up working in Canada’s mineral exploration and mining industry? What made you decide to follow a career in geology?
I grew up in a small town in Northern Ontario where the only industry was mining. It never occurred to me to work in the mining industry growing up because they weren’t good years. The mining cycle was down, and it hurt a lot of families. Because I was from such a small town, the only option was to go away to university. As a francophone in Ontario, my choices were pretty limited; I could either go to Ottawa or Sudbury. I chose Ottawa! I was accepted into the Computer Science program, which I quickly realized wasn’t a good fit. However, one of my electives was “Earth Sciences” and I thought to myself, “why not?”. I soon transferred to the geology department and in 2001, I graduated from the University of Ottawa with a B.Sc. Honours in Geology. From there, I received my first job as a mapping field geologist with the Ontario Geological Survey and after about a year, the mining cycle started an uphill climb. I obtained my first job in the private sector in July 2002 and never looked back.
How would you describe your job to someone who is unfamiliar with your title and the sector?
When people ask me what I do, I say that I am a geologist. My title is Principal Geologist, and I lead my own firm. The first thing that comes to mind for people, if they know what a geologist is “rocks”. To be very honest, I haven’t looked at rocks in quite some time! My focus is QAQC (Quality Assurance and Quality Control), so I spend a very large part of my time looking at data and making charts, which provides me with hours of endless fun.
Is it a career that you would recommend to other women, and if so, why?
I would definitely recommend a career in mining to other women. It may be challenging but the mining industry offers so many opportunities in a diverse variety of fields. It’s not just about being a geologist or engineer, those might the obvious mining careers, but it can be finance, HR, marketing, business strategy, environment and the list goes on. It is about finding the right niche of the industry that you are passionate about and making it work for you.
Have there been women who assisted you in your career, perhaps even in a mentorship role?
I have been quite lucky in my career as geologist because I have been surrounded by many successful women who have been there to help. I started with FNX Mining back in 2002 and the company had many women. As a result, I rarely felt that anything was out of reach because of my gender. Later in 2003/2004 I was reporting through a woman who was our Vice President of Exploration, Catharine Farrow, and the company grew very quickly, creating many opportunities for geologists. Catharine offered me an opportunity to work with data and quality control. I probably couldn’t see it then but now it’s my niche, and it keeps me very busy.
At that time, Lynda Bloom, was consulting for FNX Mining on QAQC. She mentored me during my time there and I could always go to her with questions over the years. In 2017, she offered me an opportunity to work with her as a consultant, focusing on QAQC. And in 2020, my partners, both successful female geologists and entrepreneurs, partnered with me and we co-founded Qualitica Consulting.
What advice might you have for young students interested in a career in geology—particularly young women in geoscience?
Just try it. It does have its ups and downs but it’s a great way to travel the world. Geology is a great career for women. It requires a high level of multitasking and is a very fulfilling career.