Collaborating on a bold vision


Collaborating on a bold vision

12 May 2024

From unexpected beginnings to pivotal career milestones, Ian Pearce reveals the challenges and triumphs that have shaped his leadership trajectory

Ian Pearce, CIM’s 2024-2025 President, brings a wealth of experience in navigating the industry’s complex terrain. His career has seen him transition from technical roles to more business-focused endeavours across the globe. He sees in CIM an organization that resonates with his professional ethos and that holds a pivotal role in broadening perspectives and inspiring innovative solutions to complex challenges.

CIM: How did you get involved in the mining industry?

Pearce: My initial career aspirations leaned toward veterinary medicine, but fate had other plans. The allure of a bursary program offered by mining companies to attract fresh talent into the industry caught my attention. With my father's deep-rooted connections to an American mining supplier, I had a glimpse into a career in mining. The bursary program was a remarkable opportunity that not only benefited professionals like me but also received government support in the form of tax breaks to the companies providing the bursaries, injecting “new blood" into the industry while granting me a "free" degree.

CIM: How has mining kept you engaged?

Pearce: Introducing automation and control early in my career was particularly challenging. This initiative, though aimed at improving efficiency, was met with resistance as it was perceived to threaten job security. I vividly recall an instance where a cyanide monitoring system had to be secured under lock and key due to repeated sabotage by operators who feared being replaced by technology. Despite these hurdles, my career in mining has been a tapestry of diverse challenges, each offering valuable lessons. From the plains of Africa to the arid expanse of the Atacama Desert, the lush jungles of Indonesia, and the icy landscapes of Fort McMurray, each environment presented its unique set of challenges and learning opportunities.

CIM: If you were to meet your 30-year-old self now, what advice would you give him?

Pearce: The essence of organizational dynamics lies in distinguishing between "leaders" and "administrators." Align yourself closely with leaders and steer clear of the latter. Embrace your early career as a period of learning from mistakes, for as you ascend to senior leadership, the margin for error diminishes. In the early stages, your focus should be on personal accomplishments, but as you transition into leadership roles, your success will be defined by your ability to empower others. Seek out what I call "platforms of experiences" across different geographies, commodities, and job roles. Each experience should leave you with a sense of making a meaningful impact. Additionally, seize opportunities early in your career, prioritizing career growth over immediate financial gains. Remember, the pay will align with your career progression. Focus on building a broad network through meaningful conversations, gaining insights, and staying abreast of industry trends.

CIM: You’ve held top positions at a variety of different organizations. What insights did you gain from those experiences that you can share with the CIM community?

Pearce: I advocate for building a broad network. My approach to networking involves engaging in meaningful conversations, gaining insights, and staying informed about industry trends. I encourage my team members to explore opportunities for professional growth even if it means going outside the present employer, urging them to pursue new challenges if they promise personal and organizational growth. This approach fosters a culture of continuous improvement and commitment within the team.

CIM: What value has your CIM membership brought to your career, and what do you think its value is to others in the minerals, metals, and energy industries?

Pearce: Membership of organizations such as CIM has been a hallmark of my career, signifying a commitment to excellence and professional development. Attending conferences and engaging with industry leaders has broadened my perspective, inspiring innovative solutions to complex challenges. Networking opportunities and exposure to cutting-edge research have been instrumental in shaping my career trajectory. I believe CIM membership offers similar benefits to others in the minerals, metals, and energy industries, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, professional growth, and industry recognition.

CIM: How will the mining industry and CIM need to adapt moving forward?

Pearce: The mining industry, along with CIM, must embrace three key levers: Leadership, Collaboration, and Diversity. A clear strategic vision is essential, and CIM will be refreshing its strategy in 2024 to navigate future challenges effectively. Strategic planning involves anticipating various scenarios, setting ambitious yet attainable goals, measuring progress, and being agile enough to course-correct when necessary. The ability to plan and adapt to changing circumstances is paramount for sustained success.

CIM: What is your vision for CIM in the year that you’re president and beyond?

Pearce: My presidency coincides with a pivotal moment for CIM, as we embark on refreshing our strategy to chart a course for the next three years. This strategic realignment will be accompanied by a series of targeted initiatives aimed at realizing our strategic objectives. I envision this initiative to galvanize our societies and branches, fostering a collaborative spirit that propels us toward achieving our shared goals.