International Women’s Day: Meet Joanne

March 16, 2022

One of START’s key metrics is diversity and female representation in our organisation. By tracking diversity, we are bringing transparency to the aluminium industry and keeping the gender equality conversation going.  

This International Women’s Day, we highlight the achievements of the women in our aluminium business. We spoke to four women across our commercial and operations teams to learn more about what gives them motivation in their roles, and what advice they have for fellow women in mining.

Joanne Mosbergen

General Manager, Pacific Metal Sales, Singapore

When Joanne started out as an electrical engineer in a steel rolling mill, she was the only female employee. Having worked in Singapore, Vietnam, and Australia, she has accumulated about 20 years of experience in metals and technology industries. She now heads sales of our aluminium business in the Pacific where she optimises our portfolio and maximises profitability of our products.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work experience in Rio Tinto?

I joined Rio Tinto’s aluminium sales and marketing team in December 2018 as a portfolio manager. I worked closely with sales to grow the book and profitability. I’ve close to 20 years of experience working in the metals and technology sectors.

Prior to joining Rio Tinto, I was the general manager of NatSteelVina, a steel rolling mill in Vietnam, part of Tata Steel and was accountable for profit and loss (P&L) for the Vietnam business. I started out as an electrical engineer in one of Tata’s steel mills in Singapore and had the opportunity to rotate in various roles—from operations to business development/M&A, and also in the Australian operations. I spent some years commercialising technologies, which gave me valuable experience in developing partnerships and products.

What does your job entail and what do you love most about it?

I’m responsible for the sales of aluminium in the Pacific, which includes portfolio management, sales and origination, sales and operations planning, and sales operations. Even though the focus is on the Pacific, the metal is sold to regions outside Asia, such as North America and Europe. We develop and capture opportunities to arbitrage regional, prices, product, and time spreads to create additional value for the portfolio.

Teamwork is very crucial. I work closely with my colleagues in the Atlantic to ensure that we optimise the global portfolio as markets/trade flows are highly interconnected and dynamic. My team and I also work with various stakeholders from operations, logistics, integrated trading, and digital teams to ensure that our sales are executed and delivered well to achieve optimal value for the business and serve our customers well.

I really enjoy the global perspective that we take in the business, the dynamism of the market (there’s never a dull day!), and how the team adapts to it to capture every opportunity and generate value for the business.

This year’s theme is #BreaktheBias. Have you ever faced a situation where you were affected by gender bias—professionally or personally? And, if so, how did you overcome it?

I would like to share my experience working as an electrical engineer in a steel rolling mill in Singapore. It was my first job out of university, and as the only female employee in the mill, it could have easily been intimidating.

However, the mill’s operations manager was cognizant of this, and took care to inform everyone, and reminded himself to set an example, to avoid using crude language in discussions as he felt the type of language used on the shopfloor could be rather offensive especially in presence of female employees.

Colleagues that I worked with in the mill were also very professional. In fact, I felt a sense of respect from them as they were always curious and asked why I chose to work in a male-dominated environment. At no point in time, did I feel any negative gender bias or was unfairly treated, so I was always thankful for that.

Through this experience, I felt the importance of having male allies in the workplace to alleviate and support women equality.

What is some advice you’d give to other women in the workplace who are starting out in their careers / want to further their careers?

Be passionate about what you do as that will take you a long way. And, because of your passion, it will give you the stamina and resilience to surmount challenges and also energise the people around you.

Who are your biggest female role models and why?

I had a female manager that I used to work for in my early career. She was a great leader who taught me a lot, especially in knowledge of the businesses and markets when I transitioned from an engineering to a commercial role.

She also shared with me her experience and knowledge of being a good leader and a people manager. Even though she could be demanding, I knew that her guidance shaped me to be the professional I am today.

’Til today, I remain in contact with her, and look up to her as a mentor.