Photo by: Grigoriy Iftodiy

Air Patrols

There is one thing that unites all three employees of ALROSA, and it is the quality of air. They are doing their best to keep it clean at industrial venues which requires a lot of analysis and high technologies. We asked them about this and much more.

“Working in a lab is like cooking: if you add too much salt, you will spoil the dish”

Soyolma Shobogorova

Chemical Analysis Technician

Before Soyolma Shobogorova found a dream job at a company with the best conditions for building a career, she tried her hand at various jobs

A hot seat question:

— What is your dream?

— Two of my dreams came true: I married the love of my life and had two beautiful sons. I would also like a bigger house: ours is getting too small for a big family with ever-growing children.

Founding a preschool or a school where they would teach children how to act in extreme situations would be great, too. I also wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of opening a nice family restaurant with delicious food.

— Which traditionally male-dominated jobs would ALROSA women be great at?

— I believe women would be great at any job, as long as it is not physically demanding, like a driller or a miner.

— If it weren’t for your job as a Lab Technician, what do you think you’d work as?

— I am a people person; I think I would be a great fit when it comes to jobs where I could work with people: a trade union or, perhaps, some social services job. My motto is, you can work anywhere as long as you like what you’re doing.

I was born and raised in Ulan-Ude, the capital city of the Republic of Buryatia, Russia. Later, I graduated from East Siberia State University of Technology and Management with a major in Food Technology. However, I quickly realized that this scene is not really my thing, so I studied to be a train conductor.

Afterwards, they sent me to Irkutsk; it took a year of working on local trains for me to progress, and finally, they put me in charge of Irkutsk–Moscow long distance trains. Then I met my future husband Piotr at my friend’s birthday party; it was another milestone of my life.

He was the one who convinced me to move to Mirny, and so began my life in the north. It wasn’t long till I got a job as a lab technician at some oil company, but I didn’t stick around. My heart belonged to ALROSA. Pretty soon, I was lucky enough to join the Nyurba Mining and Processing Combine (GOK) as a Chemical Analysis Technician.

The lab where I worked is located in a small town of Nakyn; it’s a three-hour drive from Mirny, which is why I worked there on two-week shifts. A few years into the job, I took my maternity leave; as soon as I got back, the pandemic broke out, so shifts became longer — a month, sometimes even more. As a mother of two — a three- and a five-year-old — I knew that this work schedule didn’t work for me at all. But in September 2021, the Mirny and Nyurba GOKs merged; I ended up being transferred to a lab in Mirny, at the Internatsionalny mine. Now I work nine-to-five and couldn’t be happier.

It goes without saying that I had to learn the ropes before working as a Lab Technician — first, I shadowed my coworkers. I had a chance to work as a Lab Microbiologist; I studied fuels and lubricants and water, and recently got transferred to the Gas Lab. There, I carry out mine air tests using gas chromatographs.

Mining foremen of the dust ventilation and blasting section are tasked with mine air sampling; their job is to follow strictly an approved plan. My job is to assign a task order to a mining foreman: they are supposed to take samples and rubber containers to collect them. I also make sure these containers are sealed, labeled and clamped properly.

I take the samples from the foreman and put together a report, encrypting the samples and entering them in the logbook. They are then kept at room temperature for at least an hour before I process them with a gas chromatograph to determine the composition and harmful impurity level of the mine air. Based on the treatment results, I draw up a log sheet; I am also in charge of a sampling report due at the end of every month.

In our work, success rides on many things: clean chemistry utensils, reagents, correct sampling, etc. If something goes wrong, you have to start anew. So a lab technician might benefit both from advanced equipment and from soft skills, i.e., a neat, rule-abiding person with steady hands is perfect for this job.

I endeavor to become highly skilled in my field; first, I am going to raise my qualification as a Lab Technician to level 5 (I am currently at level 4), and then higher.

I spend all my time off with my family. Nikita, my firstborn, is starting school this year. This is a big year for my youngest, Ilya, too: he’s turning five. My husband and I spend as much time with them as we possibly can. We go everywhere together: to a skating rink, a swimming pool. We also love snow tubing! Since our children are curious about literally everything, we have a lot of fun together.

Personally, I really enjoy cooking; my favorite pastime is making something new and different and treating my family to a feast. Cooking is fascinating; you always have new stuff to learn. It’s like working in a lab: if you add too much salt, you will spoil the dish.

“I’ve spent most of my life studying and working”

Oksana Pisareva

Maintenance and Test Engineer

Oksana Pisareva enjoys drawing and baking in her free time, while at work she deals with quite serious tasks. She is a Maintenance and Test Engineer. Oksana believes that it is important to never stop learning both at work and as a hobby.

A hot seat question:

— What is your dream?

— My husband and I actually dream about a house! Ideally, it’s small and cozy, located by a warm sea.

— What traditionally male-dominated jobs would ALROSA women are great at? professions or positions could women in ALROSA successfully handle?

— I believe that women can cope with almost any male profession, unless the job involves great physical effort.

— If it weren’t for your job asIf you weren't a Maintenance and Test Engineer, what do you think you’d work as would you like to be instead?

— I would probably find myself in a field related to social work. I like helping people.

I was born in the Chelyabinsk region; however, when I was three months old, we moved to Udachny, a town deep in the Far East of Russia. My parents wanted to experience the North with all of its irresistible appeal you hear about so much; so off they went to explore the land of diamonds. They ended up settling down here, working for ALROSA; my father was a Foreman of the Assembly and Manufacturing Section at Almazavtomatika, and my mother worked as an Overhead Crane Driver at the Processing Vehicle Depot.

I’ve spent most of my life studying and working. Any of us would agree that our educational training is only the beginning of our learning process. In fact, in reality work is totally different from what you’ve learned at the university. For example, just last year, I took a number of advanced training courses at the Higher School of Innovation Management supervised by the head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). I studied leadership, business culture, stress management and time management.

I got my first job at the Blanking Shop, a large workshop that produces a variety of steel structures, where as a Work Distributor I made drawings and liaised with clients. Twelve years later, I realized I was stuck in a rut and burned out. Something had to change, and fast. As fate would have it at the time, I was getting my second degree with a major in engineering, which paved the way for a change: in late 2019, I got a job as a Maintenance Commissioning and Testing Engineer at the Udachny Installation and Commissioning Department of the Almazavtomatika specialized trust.

Air conditioning is a core of the company’s indoor climate. Bad ventilation can lead to workers’ health problems.

Tasked with such an important job, I conduct annual aerodynamic tests of the ventilation and air conditioning systems of all the industrial and domestic premises of the Udachny mine; I also calculate the data and issue data sheets and protocols for every ventilation and air intake system. Early detection of issues ensures a proper microclimate in the workplace, which is why my job is critical to the effective functioning of the company.

Our team in Udachny is rather small, only about 130 people, but with strong team spirit. More than 85% of us are engineering and technical workers, mostly young people. I met my husband Andrey here at Almazavtomatika. He is the Head of the Underground Mine Automation section.

After work

Drawing, or painting, is my favorite way to unwind. Sometimes I will paint a landscape, taking as much as two months; sometimes I will sketch all sorts of things that catch my eye. It’s all about the process.

Baking is another hobby. My mother always spoiled us with home-made cakes. When she left, we tried cakes bought in stores, but they were totally different. So I decided to learn by myself by attending courses and trying different recipes. Now, my friends and relatives can’t wait to try my home-made cakes, so I try to meet their expectations.

My husband and I love traveling to new places. We prefer individual trips to package tours. We’ve been to Vietnam, Thailand, China, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, South Korea and Cyprus. We also like discovering Russia. We plan to visit Vladivostok, Kaliningrad, and Kazan in the near future.

What I fear above anything else is having to work in an office

Anna Patenkova

Leading Engineer in the Air Research Sector of the Environmental Analysis Lab at Yakutniproalmaz Institute

The star of this article finds solace in business travel, fields and test tubes. Anna Patenkova shares some personal facts and talks about her job as a Leading Engineer in the Air Research Sector of the Environmental Analysis Lab at Yakutniproalmaz Institute.

A hot seat question:

— What is your dream?

— You may say I’m a dreamer, but “imagine all the people living life in peace…”

— Which traditionally male-dominated jobs would ALROSA women be great at?

— You know, there’s this famous phrase about a Russian woman that every person in my country knows by heart. It’s by Nikolay Nekrasov, a Russian poet: “...A run-away horse she will master, / Walk straight to a hut that’s aflame”. It’s basically our equivalent for “she can do it all”. I believe there’s nothing a woman can’t do. We can do anything — if we’ve a mind to.

— If it weren’t for your job as an Air Research Engineer, what do you think you’d work as?

— I can’t imagine myself doing something different. But perhaps I would have gotten a job in the oil and gas industry.

I was born and raised in Yakutia, Russia. As a Petroleum Engineering major at Mirny Polytechnic Institute, I can say that my student years certainly kept me busy: I interned in an oil field lab at an oil company and got a job in my Institute’s Oil and Gas Chemistry Lab; I trained as a chemical analysis lab technician and reskilled to become a test lab technician. To top it all off, I minored in Environmental Safety.

Long story short, they offered me a job at Yakutniproalmaz (part of ALROSA Group) shortly after my graduation in 2019. My first year there, I mostly did water, soil and sediment surveys. It wasn’t long till I was involved in more demanding jobs.

Now we get requests from the rough diamond miner’s Environmental Center to do various environmental surveys of air, industrial emissions, natural gas and physical factors in ALROSA’s operating area. Our surveys help minimize the Company’s impact on nature and people as their results are a staple of assessment based on Russia’s state Sanitary Regulations and Standards (“SanPin” in the Russian vernacular). The Environmental Center compares our findings with the SanPin norms to identify any deviations. Our work is also a lifesaver when it comes to designs and permits for the Company’s facilities.

We use gas analyzers to measure carbon monoxide, nitrogen monoxide and dioxide, dust, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and hydrocarbon concentrations in the atmosphere. We measure noise levels with noise meters as they are the ultimate device for monitoring the negative impact the Company’s activities have on the human body. For a more accurate assessment, we turn to night-time measurements.

In industrial emission samples, what we’re looking for is oil aerosol, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxides, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid aerosols, benzo[a]pyrene. First, we make sure we have the right equipment and materials, and then we take samples on site. Each sample has a short shelf life, a factor that can hinder our analysis if not taken seriously.

My line of work involves heavy business travel. You’ll have a hard time finding measurement sites in cities. In fact, it’s the opposite: I often find myself negotiating forests and stock piles on my way to tailing pits, quarries, mines, factories. I’ve yet to run into a wild animal, though I do see a lot of fresh tracks.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a doctor — they wear white coats — and a construction worker — they wear white hard hats; I thought it looked really cool. Now I know that it all came true: I have both, though they have little to do with medicine or construction.

Just like Newt Scamander from my favorite fictional universe, what I fear above anything else is having to work in an office. There’s nothing I hate more than paperwork. No, I’m a different breed. Analysis is something you can’t pry me away from with a crowbar. To me, it’s fascinating, and it’s calming; I feel this huge responsibility since what I do has a great impact on the Company’s environmental activities. You might say our future depends on it. And not just our future — our children’s, too.

There’s something sentimental about working here, a romantic appeal, if you will. I feel balance and serenity when I’m outdoors, enjoying nature. It’s unbelievably energizing and inspiring; and above all, it’s majestic and beautiful. I can’t help but stand in awe of Yakutia’s landscapes. I never spend my vacation in the hot sun, with my feet burning in the scalding white sand. I hate the heat. My idea of a perfect summer includes cool weather and a jacket.