Leadership Lessons: Looking to Canada’s Future

In June, Teck employees Alexa Young, Manager, Federal Government Affairs, Vancouver office, and Richard Weymark, Dam Construction Manager, Highland Valley Copper Operations, attended the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference (GGCLC)—a unique two-week experience aimed at broadening emerging leaders’ perspectives on work, leadership, their communities and their country.

The mission of the conference is to improve decision-making among future leaders and strengthen relationships and understanding between different sectors. This year’s conference theme, Leadership and the Canada We Will Build, also recognized Canada’s celebration of its 150th anniversary of Confederation while looking ahead at opportunities to shape Canada’s future.  

Don Lindsay, President and CEO, served as the conference chair, and congratulated the 260 participants on the honour of being selected to attend the 2017 conference, joining just over 2,000 Canadians who have participated since 1983. 

“Over the next two weeks, I encourage you to use Canada as a classroom as you look towards how you will help build Canada over the course of your leadership years,” noted Don in his conference opening remarks.  

The conference started with a three-day opening session where participants heard from prominent national and international leaders, setting the stage for the immersive nine-day Study Group experience.  

Participants were then divided into Study Groups, each travelling to different regions of Canada, where over nine days, they examined complex socio-economic issues by visiting and meeting with local companies, community organizations, government and other regional leaders. At the end of each day, groups reconvened and rigorously examined their views and perspectives relating to the topic they were examining.

After the nine-day Study Group experiences, participants reconvened in Ottawa-Gatineau, where they presented their perceptions and insights to the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston. 

Alexa and Richard recently shared with Connect some of their experiences at the 2017 GGCLC.

Alexa Young, Manager, Federal Government Affairs

On my Study Group topic…

Our team set out to Nunavut to answer the question: how can we work together to build a better Canada for everyone?

Across Nunavut, we learned about the strength of Inuit culture—the Inuit Peoples’ connection to the land, air, water and animals, the importance of traditional knowledge and oral history, efforts to preserve the Inuktitut language, and a vibrant and growing arts scene. We also learned about the resilience of Inuit culture in spite of the impacts of historical wrongs the Inuit have endured, including the effects of the residential school system, the last of which only closed in 1996 in the territory.

From housing to schools to medical and mental health facilities, the need for greater access to social infrastructure was a theme that came up throughout our journey. We heard a lot about digital and economic infrastructure, too—the view that better accessibility to Internet, roads, airports and resource development projects is needed to connect Nunavut to an increasingly interconnected and integrated economy and world.

We listened to stories of the tension that exists between the desire to preserve a traditional way of life and the desire to partake in the economic opportunities and jobs these types of projects represent. We heard from those who believed a balance could be achieved—that the economy, the environment and cultural identity could go hand in hand, but that choice in how that balance manifests lies with the Nunavummiut.

Ultimately we learned that we must look at all these factors through the lens of Reconciliation and how we can support Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. Our team developed a documentary film to capture our experience. We look forward to sharing it broadly in the coming months. 

Above: Alexa Young on her study tour in Nunavut, meeting local children.

On the importance of listening…

My most meaningful moments were those spent listening to the people of Nunavut—including learning about the experiences of the Inuit Peoples and growing my appreciation that understanding and recognizing Indigenous history and culture is essential to the advancement of Reconciliation and for all Canadians to truly become connected.

On the power of different perspectives…

Similarly powerful was our nightly group discussion, debate, compromise and consensus seeking on what we had learned that day and how we would ultimately present those findings to the Governor General at the conference’s conclusion. These moments, which lasted well into the night at the end of very long days, taught us a lot about how we show up as leaders in times of disagreement, and that while we may have different perspectives, there is much more that binds us. 

My moments of reflection…

Finally, some of my most memorable moments were the quieter times, usually during our ‘midnight sun’ walks made possible by the 24-hour-a-day sunlight that occur through the summer months. These walks provided the occasion for self-reflection—about what the experience meant to me personally and what I would do to pay it forward.

Richard Weymark, Dam Construction Manager, Highland Valley Copper Operations

On my Study Group topic…

The Study Group I participated in travelled to Nova Scotia to meet with leaders from various sectors and gain an understanding of the key issues affecting the province and how they are working to solve them.

One of the most memorable and impactful experiences for me was visiting many of the not-for-profit organizations around Halifax. I was really struck by the great work being done, in some cases by people who didn’t have much more than those they were helping. The generosity, passion and sense of community displayed by these leaders was very inspiring.

On the importance of diversity…

I have always known that diversity and inclusion are important; however, this conference allowed me to experience first-hand the benefits of being part of a truly diverse team. Our Study Group included leaders from all across Canada, representing many different sectors.

The process of coming to consensus and developing recommendations at the end of our tour was not easy. However, the end result was a much deeper, more balanced set of recommendations than any of us could have developed on our own. 

I was very fortunate to share this experience with my team and make friends, which included both Indigenous and union leaders. Over the course of many conversations, I was able to gain a much deeper understanding of Canada’s history and the issues affecting Indigenous communities across Canada. I also appreciated the opportunity to discuss and ask questions about organized labour. 

Above: Richard Weymark and his study tour group in Nova Scotia, visiting a naval base.

On broadening perspectives…

I know the exposure and perspective, I have gained will improve my leadership and decision-making in my current and future roles with Teck.

This was an excellent opportunity to not only broaden my perspective, but also help broaden the perspectives of other leaders, who may not have previously had exposure to the mining industry.

A word of thanks…

The conference impacted many people deeply, including me and this would not have been possible without the support of Teck as a conference sponsor and Don Lindsay serving as conference chair. The GGCLC was such an amazing experience, and I am so thankful that Teck provided me with the opportunity to attend. 

Thank You

Download Connect Volume 19

Many thanks to those who contributed to and participated in this issue of Connect:

Catherine Adair, Community Relations Leader, Trail Operations; Ken Andersen, Mine Technical Supervisor, Highland Valley Copper; Mohammad Babaei, Senior Technical Analyst, IS+T Operational Technology, Line Creek Operations; Marsha Bradcoe (retired), Haul Truck Driver, Fording River Operations; Barbara Brice, Senior Human Resources Generalist, Pend Oreille Mine; Pamela Chait, Manager, Corporate Affairs, Santiago office; Rebecca Edwards, Communications Coordinator, Sparwood office; Francisca Gregorio, Communications Specialist, Corporate Affairs, Santiago office; Gord Kavaloff, Senior Reliability Specialist, Trail Operations; Hadden Kelloway, Blaster, Elkview Operations; Brian Kennedy, Project Director, Project Development and Engineering, Vancouver office; Peter Martell, Superintendent, Environment and Community Affairs, Highland Valley Copper; Cole Massaro, Equipment Operator, Greenhills Operations; Anna Mihalj, Technician, Mining, Engineering, Greenhills Operations; Nic Milligan, Manager, Social Responsibility, Sparwood office; Rick Plovie, Support Equipment Planner, Highland Valley Copper; Marisol Reategui, Executive Assistant, Exploartion (Americas), Surco office; Mark Richards, Manager, Mining Technology, Applied Research and Technology; Jacqui Schneider, Senior Community Affairs Officer, Highland Valley Copper; Herman Urrejola, Manager, Social Responsibility, Santiago office; Fritz Westlake, Community Relations Coordinator, Public Relations, Red Dog Operations; Richard Weymark, Dam Construction Manager, Highland Valley Copper; Alexa Young, Manager, Federal Government Affairs, Vancouver office

On the Cover

Sebastian Malagueño, Plant Manager, Quebrada Blanca Operations


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