Community Our People

Supporting Leadership Development of Indigenous Employees at Red Dog Operations

March 17, 2022

Loise Steele, a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Red Dog ALDP program
Photo: Loise Steele, a graduate of Cohort 1 of the Red Dog ALDP program


Red Dog Operations (RDO), one of the world’s largest producers of zinc, is located about 170 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Northwest Alaska. Red Dog was developed under an innovative operating agreement between the landowner NANA Regional Corporation (NANA) and Teck. NANA is an Alaska Native Corporation, owned by more than 14,500 Iñupiat shareholders, or descendants, who live in or have roots in northwest Alaska. For more than 30 years, Red Dog and the people of the northwest Arctic region have worked together to create jobs and opportunities to strengthen the region.

In 2020, Red Dog initiated an Accelerated Leadership Development Program as part of NANA and Teck’s ongoing commitment to NANA shareholder leadership development. The objective of the program is to increase the number of shareholder-employees in senior roles. The pilot program concluded successfully with a 5.3% increase in shareholder-employee promotions in 2020.

The Accelerated Leadership Development Program (ALDP)

The 1982 Development and Operating Agreement for Red Dog between NANA and Teck includes goals related to shareholder employment as well as training and development. In 2020, 77% of new hires and 55% of total employees at Red Dog were NANA shareholders. While these results show the success of our efforts, increasing shareholder participation in leadership roles has been an area of focus. 

The ALDP program was designed as an extension to Teck’s already established leadership development program, Leading for the Future (LFF), which is aimed at developing frontline supervisors to effectively manage safe and efficient operations. What makes the ALDP program unique is that it is tailored to the requirements of the shareholders. This includes values-centred leadership development, building practical leadership tools, and creating a connected cohort of high potential shareholder leaders.

The program consists of two components. The first incorporates quarterly leadership acceleration workshops focused on facilitating the development of skills required for high-performance leadership. The second component involves ongoing coaching support in which participants are matched with a learning coach from the Teck Senior Management team or NANA. These coaches were in turn provided with training and development opportunities over the course of the program in order to ensure maximum opportunities for growth for all participants.

Piloting the Program

In 2020, Red Dog rolled out the first ALDP program with 12 shareholder participants. Participants were selected for the program based on four criteria: high performance, high potential, key leadership attributes and the Management Potential Index.

Ben Supliq Foxglove III, Senior Advisor of Shareholder Development at Red Dog was one of the participants of the first ALDP cohort and has a career aspiration to continue to grow as a leader: “Growing up I was taught to avoid conflict, and I always thought that it was a bad thing,” he said. “Conflict in business is inevitable. It can be positive if you’re willing to work towards a solution, and the ALDP helped me view conflict from a different perspective.”

Thurston Jan Qiliqmiaq Nanaqtouq Mitchell, who started his career at Red Dog as an apprentice has now been promoted to Supervisor at the Heavy Equipment Shop, following the ALDP program: “I hope to keep moving up the ladder in my mining career. I see my new position as a stepping stone and not the endpoint in my journey at Red Dog,” he said.

Going forward, Red Dog is applying the learnings from the pilot to improve the ALDP program for the next cohort. 

2023 Program Update

Following the ALDPs early success, the initiative continued in 2022 with 25 new participants. Continuation of the Program created even greater impact and contributed to a 10% increase in local hiring among NANA Shareholders, reaching a total of 62% in 2022. This achievement reinforces the organization's unwavering commitment to the community and moves Red Dog closer to its goal of employing 100% of its workforce from within the local community.

Recognizing the value of investing in future leaders and its role in their development, Red Dog further expanded the program in 2023, welcoming another 14 shareholder employees. 

Learn more about our approach to Our People and Culture and our Relationships with Communities and Indigenous Peoples on our website.

First Published on March 17, 2022