CIM’s current president took the lead at an auspicious time. This year’s CIM Conference and Exhibition 2010 in Vancouver, where Michael Allan passed the torch to Chris Twigge-Molecey, enjoyed an exceptional turnout with over 6,000 participants. In addition, there was an equally strong turnout for the three-day Mining in Society show. CIM Magazine spoke to the new president to find out how to carry that momentum forward and what challenges lay ahead.
CIM: In Vancouver, plenary moderator Rex Murphy gave a rousing defense of the mining industry. He pointed out that it “does things that are central to the world in which we live.” Do you believe the industry is doing a good job of portraying this?
Twigge-Molecey: I think, as an industry, we do an appallingly bad job of telling the world how important we are to the civilization we live in. I don’t think many people understand the range of consumer goods and building materials — things that make our lives liveable — depend on the mining industry.
CIM: So then, what should we do about it?
Twigge-Molecey: Public advocacy is not in CIM’s mandate. We leave that to the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). However, we have a responsibility to ensure the relevant facts are available to support MAC. Proactively, CIM’s Mining in Society initiative is hugely important. It is helping students understand where the mining business fits into economic activity so that they grow up with a more balanced view of the importance our business. We do, however, have to be very careful that we preserve our integrity; that we provide facts and not be seen as trying to use those facts for any particular political purpose.
CIM: 2009 was a tumultuous year. How, in retrospect, did CIM handle it?
Twigge-Molecey: CIM did extremely well. There was a plan in place for the Vancouver event, as well as various other events throughout the year; they all happened as planned, they all made money for us. So, one way or another, the approach of following through with our plans while being cognizant of the changes happening around us worked out well. There were certainly times when we were worried about who would sign up for Vancouver, but that turned out to have been misplaced concern.
CIM: Last year, as part of its strategic planning, CIM leadership spent time revisiting the Institute’s organizing principles and created a “blueprint” to direct future growth. How can we gauge the fidelity of future activities to past values and achievements?
Twigge-Molecey: Implementation of the blueprint is a process. The first step was to get the framework for our vision, values and aspirations in place, which was done by a group from CIM’s Council. The next step is to engage the leadership of the societies and branches in that same framework, who will then, in turn, need to engage the members. It is a cascading communication program rather than a detailed action plan. At this point we’ve passed the first phase and are beginning to communicate more effectively with the societies and branches.
CIM: You’ve referred to yourself a “projects guy.” The corporate information technology redesign initiative is a major project with a lot of potential. How will CIM achieve that potential?
Twigge-Molecey: Those in the projects business know that the way you get through one successfully is by clearly defining the scope, the milestones, the budget and then monitoring progress. We need to track where we are as compared to where we should be and then be ready to ask ourselves “what are we going to do about it?” The key is to proactively manage a project rather than let it flow under its own momentum.
The IT project is the biggest CIM has ever undertaken. It is a complete revamping of our infrastructure for the future. A lot of the services that we plan on providing the membership depend on that infrastructure. IT projects are infamous for going over budget and over schedule, and we don’t have the capacity to handle that if that happens. So it is essential that we stick to the budget, scope and schedule.