Sept/Oct 2008

From guts to glory

How Chris Ryan and his team revitalized CIM's Crowsnest Branch

By R. Pillo

When he was notified of the dwindled support and activity of the CIM Crowsnest Branch, Chris Ryan felt compelled to accept the job of branch chair and take on the task of revitalizing the organization. In just a few years, Chris and his ambitious executive team were able to take the branch to new heights, turning it into a strong and promising element in the CIM network. They were rewarded for their efforts in 2007 when the Crowsnest Branch was presented with the Mel W. Bartley Award for demonstrating the most progress in reaching the aims of CIM.

When he is not blazing new trails in the mountains of the Crowsnest Pass for CIM, Chris can be found focusing on operational goals at the Sparwood offices of Elk Valley Coal. Chris took a break from his busy schedule to speak with CIM on the delicate intricacies and everyday realities of bringing new life to the branch.

CIM: What led you to mining?

C.R.: A stroke of luck really. While attending a CIM student night at the University of Alberta, Dr. Tim Joseph gave a presentation on some of his experiences in mining. One facet that was particularly interesting was his experiences in drilling and blasting. That was enough to get me hooked.

CIM: Why did you become a CIM member?

C.R.: I saw CIM as an opportunity to interact with professionals in the industry, leading to a broadened spectrum of knowledge and resources.

CIM: What has winning the Mel Bartley award done for the branch as a whole?

C.R.: It was a sign that we were on the right track with how we were rebuilding the branch. It also gave us a boost of confidence and certainly perked up people’s interest.

CIM: What was involved in the Crowsnest Branch’s revival?

C.R.: The Crowsnest Branch started out with four key members in early 2005 — Dale DeClercq, Michael Lukach, Derek Cooper and myself. Together, we battled through the initial hurdles of setting up the branch financials, developing technical programs and keeping the buzz alive. Today, we stand with a total of nine members on the committee, along with several volunteers who often assist us with the planning and execution of large events. We try to keep the branch focused to maintain a high level of visibility with both local industry and communities.

CIM: Would you say that this is a challenge?

C.R.: Most definitely. After all, it is the longevity of the branch that in part measures our success. We must always be looking for ways to build value for our members, as well as for the communities. Of course, there is the ever-lingering issue with busy schedules. It is a constant effort to coordinate with members of the executive committee to get as many as possible together for meetings or discussions.

CIM: And the benefits?

C.R.: It really allows one to stay in tune with the pulse of the national office as well as divisional activities. We have a large number of members who travel throughout British Columbia and Alberta, and we like to keep them in the loop as much as possible regarding events abroad. It also provides the opportunity to meet a wide spectrum of individuals involved with the various aspects of the mining business — from suppliers to contractors to manufacturers.

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