How Ariane Aubin Became a Conductor

Ariane Aubin est cheffe de train pour le Roberval Saguenay.

When people ask Ariane Aubin what she does for a living, they’re often surprised by the answer. She’s a conductor for the Roberval-Saguenay railway, a rather unusual occupation.

Originally from La Baie, Aubin had just completed her studies in communications at the University of Ottawa when she applied to Rio Tinto in summer 2022. It was suggested that she apply for a job as a conductor, an occupation that she knew nothing about. Seeing the opportunity as an additional experience to add to her career path, she went through the interview process open to all possibilities.

“I didn’t really know what the job entailed, but I told myself that, if I liked it, so much the better, and if I didn’t, as least I’d tried.”

Shortly after getting the job as a conductor, she discovered that the occupation was a good fit for her on several levels. Previously a university hockey player, she quickly came across values among her peers that she espoused, such as mutual support and collaboration.

“Everyone does their bit to keep everything running. We’re a team! Right from the start, I really liked it. It’s an unusual occupation that takes me out of my comfort zone and where I learn a lot,” says Aubin.

Working in a largely male-dominated environment, Aubin recalls being welcomed with open arms by her co-workers, who naturally took her under their wing. “They’re happy to see the next generation and some diversity. They also help me learn the trade, which is quite complex,” she says.

While performing her duties, Aubin acts as the eyes of the engineer, with whom she’s in constant communication. “When the train is loaded with several dozen cars, the engineer can’t see, so I act as the guide and give directions. I also coordinate the cars and direct them to various facilities,” she adds.

As a conductor since September 2022, Aubin enjoys practising this occupation, which she hopes to do for a long time, and which makes her feel really proud. “It’s a privilege to work at Rio Tinto. There’s nothing quite like being a conductor. There’s always something going on. It’s a wonderful combination of physical and mental effort. I spend a lot of time outside, and I always have to concentrate. It’s a perfect job for someone who has a lot of energy and likes to move around,” she says.

Ariane Aubin was a university hockey player. In her current job, she comes across some of the values she has always espoused, such as mutual support and collaboration.