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Women's History Month Spotlight: R.A. McClure's Tamara Whitaker


IME had the opportunity to catch up with R.A. McClure, Inc’s Tamara Whitaker. April will mark ten years since Tamara has been with R.A. McClure Inc.

Prior to joining R.A. McClure, Tamara spent nearly eight years working for another Orica in a variety of positions across the west. Through those experiences, Tamara says women interested in a career in commercial explosives should take the opportunity to learn from your co-workers, but never take yourself too seriously.


IME: What made you interested in the commercial explosives industry?

TW: I would say that I lucked into the explosives industry.  I was looking for a job after college and found one with Orica as an Assistant Projects Manager working in the Powder River Basin in the surface coal mines. At the time I knew very little about the explosives industry or mining in general since my schooling was in structural engineering. However, everything about the industry was new and exciting. Who wouldn’t like working with explosives and heavy equipment?


IME: What do you enjoy about working in the commercial explosives industry?

TW: I was instantly hooked on the work.  The job had a great mix of field and office work with a variety of projects every day.  I enjoyed the challenges and problems I helped solve for the customer.  It was rewarding to help them improve their drill and blast productivity as well as increase their production.  My work with R.A. McClure Inc. has allowed me to branch out into other aspects of this industry.  It is exciting to work with professionals all over the world on projects that vary from drill and blast optimization and production improvement to explosives disposal and testing. Not to mention getting the opportunity to work with some of the latest advanced technology, like UAV’s, portable X-ray machines, GPS, bomb robots and machine control. 


IME: What advice would you give you women who are considering a career in commercial explosives?

TW: Professionals in this industry come from a variety of backgrounds so there is much to learn. Not just about the industry, but the people that you will work with now and in the future. Don’t let work in the field intimidate you. It can be very rewarding. Despite what you may have heard, there are women in this industry and more than you might think.  Take every opportunity to learn from your managers and coworkers. Be serious, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Having a good laugh at your mistakes and learning from them is part of the fun. Most of all have fun!


IME: What are some of the things your company has done to support women in the workplace?

TW: Each company I have worked for has been very supportive of women in the workplace.  By this I mean I was not held down because I am a woman. I was allowed to succeed and fail to my own abilities.  In my first job, my manager offered advice about opportunities for advancement and helped me to recognize those that best fit my personality. I was able to participate in training. Both as an instructor in explosives courses and as a mentor for interns.  It was a great introduction to the explosives industry.  My work with R.A. McClure Inc. has expanded my experience by leaps and bounds, giving me the opportunity to work in nearly every facet of the explosives industry.  It has been great working with professionals who recognize your abilities and who are willing to provide opportunities that utilize those abilities. The President, Robert McClure, has supported me in my advancement and offered me the opportunity to take on new roles and responsibilities.  I think the best part, is that it really doesn’t matter that I am a woman, just that I could do the job. 


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