Barrick has actively recruited military veterans for years, but now it's taking things to another level. The Company recently hired Joel Watson in the role of Director, Veteran Sourcing and Placement, to oversee a Company-wide Veterans Recruitment Program aimed at attracting veterans to work at Barrick.
"First and foremost, veterans self-select to put service before self, which says much about their individual character, drive and willingness to work together in teams," says Watson, a lawyer who also served in an elite unit in the Canadian Armed Forces.
The impetus for the program came from Barrick Executive Chairman John Thornton, who witnessed firsthand the impact that employing veterans could bring while visiting the Switch data center campus in Henderson, Nevada. The data center hosts the servers of more than 1,000 companies, including companies like Google, Cisco, eBay, and Barrick; and its complex computer systems simply cannot afford to fail. Many Switch employees are veteran nuclear submariners, trained in a no-fail environment.
"Having seen these people in action, along with the shining example set by Barrick's Chief Operating Officer, Richard Williams, himself a former British Special Forces Officer, a decision was made to recruit more veterans," Watson says.
Veterans bring a rare combination of skills and character that are well suited to mining. They're disciplined, resilient, innovative, and adapt quickly to change. They know how to lead, yet work cooperatively; and they're keenly aware of the importance of safety. They have also been at the forefront of the agile "Team of Teams" concept that Barrick is adapting, which will assist others in making the transition.
"Soldiers, sailors, and aircrew work in a fast-moving environment that's always changing, and they're trained to work with complex technologies," Watson says.
Williams adds that veterans have diverse skillsets that encompass everything from pipefitting and plumbing to computer science and data analytics. "Adding veterans will help buttress the outstanding workforce that already exists at Barrick, as we work to build the best-in-class company of the future, and deliver value to our shareholders and the communities in which we operate," he says.
As part of the program, Barrick will actively recruit veterans where veterans are found. That means visiting military bases, joining organizations that support veterans transitioning out of the military, attending job fairs targeted at veterans, and leveraging the personal networks of veterans already working at the Company. It also means engaging groups that support veterans whose military service is ending. Barrick is now a member of the Military Employment Transition Network, a Canadian organization that supports veterans transitioning to civilian life, and a designated Military Friendly Employer in Canada and awaiting similar certification in the United States. The Company is also a member of the Honor Foundation, a U.S.-based group that supports Naval Special Warfare operators transitioning to civilian employment.
One prominent initiative that Barrick recently agreed to support is the Veterans Hiring Conference to be held during the 2017 INVICTUS Games in Toronto next September. Barrick will be the signature sponsor of the two-day conference during the games. The INVICTUS Games were created in 2014 by Prince Harry to support wounded soldiers transitioning to civilian life through the power of competitive sport. Teams from multiple nations participate, and the games will be carried on major television networks worldwide. Barrick's sponsorship of the games' first-ever hiring conference will help take the games to a new level in terms of long-term employment prospects for wounded veterans, which aligns with Barrick's own Veterans Program. Barrick leadership will kick off the Veterans Hiring Conference, and there will be multiple opportunities for Barrick employees to volunteer at the games.
The Veterans Recruitment Program will also target veterans with strategically placed job ads. For example, Barrick, in partnership with Great Basin College in Elko, Nevada, now posts job openings in GI Jobs, a print and online publication received by every serving member of the U.S. military. Barrick is also advertising jobs on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Additionally, the human resources departments in each country where Barrick operates are consciously recruiting veterans from their respective countries, or countries in close proximity.
In addition to more targeted recruiting, Barrick is developing a database of veterans at every Company site, along with an inventory of their skillsets. There are several reasons for this, Watson says. First, the Company wants to thank the veterans for their service. Second, the Company wants to provide mentors for veterans who are new to the Company. Third, employees with military backgrounds can help evaluate job candidates with similar backgrounds. Fourth, veterans with distinct skillsets can help train others in these skills and provide workforce flexibility because veterans are often cross trained in more than one trade or skill.
"Veterans don't just bring unique skills, they're trained leaders who know how to train others and they often have multiple trades," Williams says. "We want to take advantage of that functionality."
The Veterans Recruitment Program has advanced rapidly since the program launched in June. All told, there are more than 200 veterans currently working across Barrick, with constant increases—including 33 new hires this year alone. Participants in the Company's weekly Business Plan Review meeting will recognize the iron hand of Karine Lachapelle, a former military intelligence officer who ran the Canadian Special Forces Operations Centre, keeping people on message and on time. Business Improvement people in Nevada have seen firsthand the enthusiasm of Rob Neitzel, a former U.S. Special Forces Officer, and the energy of Ed Humphries, a former British Special Forces Officer. These are just some of the veterans who are making an impact at Barrick.
Ultimately, Williams says, the Veterans Recruitment Program is another way that the Company is working to enhance talent, strive for excellence, and generate greater value for all Barrick stakeholders.
Learn more about the recruitment program at barrick.com/careers/veterans.