May 2008

Voices from Industry

There is hope: students and networking initiatives

By R. Hutson

I am very honoured to be asked to provide some thoughts for the Voices from Industry page. My career has taken me from a geological engineering graduate from Toronto, to the international oil industry and now back to Toronto recruiting with Chris Stafford for the mining industry. It was the monthly luncheons of the CIM Toronto Branch that gave me my start at networking within the mining industry after 20 years away, and it was not long before I found myself as the chair of the Education Committee.

Working with the students has been an absolutely fabulous experience and has brought me into contact with a number of people, groups and initiatives that I would like to encourage and make CIM readers aware of. Hopefully, this will elicit comments and suggestions, as we are not afraid to “steal shamelessly” if something works or someone has a better idea.

The CIM Toronto Branch has several initiatives aimed at attracting students to the industry, but also to provide them with some of the tools they will need to be successful in their careers. The Annual Student-Industry Luncheon in February attracted over 70 students from 10 different schools and about the same number of industry representatives this year.

The branch recently launched a new networking event — the Annual Fall Grubstake Night. Here, 80 students and about 70 industry people gathered at the Toronto Board of Trade for an evening of light refreshment and great conversation. We hope to make it a permanent fixture on the branch calendar.

We try to precede each of our student events with a networking seminar, where short presentations on networking, resumes and other insights are given and a number of industry volunteers chat with the students. As well, financial support is provided for university field trips; money raised at the golf tournament ($10,000 this year) supports eight separate university field trips for students in mining and geosciences.

Over 600 students figured among the 20,000 attendees at this year’s Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada convention. This year, a student session with talks on the industry, networking and professional designations was held, as well as a student-industry luncheon; several hundred students and industry representatives were in attendance, enabling the students to apply those networking skills. Probably the most telling fact was the long list of student-friendly companies that were recruiting students.

Another effort to be aware of is the Ontario Mining Association’s involvement with Skills Canada/Skills Ontario. This group produces a list of careers that grade 10 high school students might consider as an option rather than the traditional university or straight-to-work approach. Until now, there has been no mention of mining anywhere. Thanks to a commitment from OMA and a core group of volunteers, the next edition will feature an entire section on mining and six positions that the students can aspire to. Copies of this booklet will be distributed to most grade 10 students across Ontario.

The Women in Mining group here in Toronto is also helping to highlight opportunities for women in the industry. WIM held its inaugural reception at the PDAC convention this year, and all I can say is that they need to get a bigger room! It was held right after the Toronto Branch’s Annual Student-Industry Luncheon, so I was able to take some of the female students into the reception and introduce them to some of the many very successful, well-respected people in our industry. What a group of role models!

Chris Stafford has always told me that his business is about building long-term relationships with talent and I try to emulate him by spending time helping with the student initiatives. Getting students to see that mining can be a very rewarding, viable career is a worthwhile effort. It has been great fun to work with the talented and dedicated volunteers and organizations that are trying to get the message out.

These are a few of the things that the Toronto Branch is involved with. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, we are all ears!

Rick Hutson is the senior consultant, C.J. Stafford & Associates, and vice chair, CIM Toronto Branch.

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