August 2009

Building leadership from the inside out

Diavik blends cutting-edge management education with time-honoured traditional approaches

By M. Eisner

John Tees and George Unka (drumming), Rob Laviolette, Merle Essau, Alfred Liske, Billy Squirrel, Sah Naji Kwe employee, Brad Ostafichuk (players) participate in a hand-game activity | Photo courtesy of Diavik Diamond Mine


In 2005, the Diavik Diamond Mine, located in the North Slave Region of the Northwest Territories, about 300 kilometres north of Yellowknife, created the Aboriginal Leadership Development Program. Built around the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology’s (SAIT) applied management certificate program, the goal was to help increase the number of qualified Aboriginal people at the mine’s supervisory and management levels.

By the end of 2009 the program will boast approximately 50 graduates. A mix of Diavik employees and contractors, participants will have attended a series of twoand- a-half day workshops, once a month for a year. They will have received 188 hours of training, including 10 courses addressing 16 leadership competencies; monthly leadership development activities; guest lectures; and a mentoring program by Diavik management. When the company decided to initiate this employee enhancement program, it invited various educational institutions to submit proposals outlining a pilot program. From among the many options, Diavik chose SAIT’s applied management certificate program. Employees who show leadership potential are nominated by their managers for the program. After the first year, the company hired Sarah Wright, a northern Aboriginal educator with global industry experience, to customize the program to meet its needs better.

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