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People Leading by example

What the Marines taught Brian Mason about leadership

Brian Mason is Barrick's Manager of Native American Affairs in the United States

Brian Mason is Barrick's Manager of Native American Affairs in the United States

Following in the footsteps of his uncles’ and cousins’, Brian Mason—a member of the Shoshone Paiute Tribes of Duck Valley, which borders Nevada and Idaho—joined the U.S. Marine Corps at the age of 17. “That was just kind of the normal thing to do,” he recalls.

His 20 years of service took him around the globe, including places in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Mason participated in several major operations, including: Eagle Claw, the Iranian hostage attempt in 1979; Desert Storm in 1991, following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait; and Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993. He returned to Somalia in 1995 for Operation United Shield for the withdrawal of the United Nations from the capital, Mogadishu.

His time in Somalia was the most challenging, given his more senior role, where he led the Marines in combat. “It was just the weight of the responsibility,” he says.

Mason wanted to pass on the principles that he had learned, particularly about leadership, to the younger Marines.

Mason reveals the best advice he received on leadership was from his own Sergeant, who taught him to lead by example in order to inspire others to work towards a common goal. This is something he still practices today in his role at Barrick.

“He taught me don’t ever ask anybody to do something that you won’t do. I thought I was a good leader at that time, but I wasn’t. He showed me all my deficiencies and made me do stuff before I asked anybody else to do it.”

Mason made a career in the military, because he was good at what he did, and also felt the need to mentor. Mason wanted to pass on the principles that he had learned, particularly about leadership, to the younger Marines.

In 1998, after spending two decades in the Marines, Mason knew it was time to retire.

“There was a point, where I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You’ve done all you could, you’re no longer the alpha dog in the room, time to move on’.”

Although the transition wasn’t easy, Mason picked himself up and enrolled in the Oregon Institute of Technology in 2000. He spent two years in environmental studies, but then switched his focus to business and marketing. In 2005, he completed undergraduate degrees in marketing and business management.   

Served with
U.S. Marine Corps, 1977-1998

Last main position
Company Gunnery Sergeant

Last base
1st Combat Engineer battalion, Camp Pendleton— California

Current role at Barrick
Manager of Native American Affairs at Barrick U.S.A.

During an annual pine-nut-picking trip with his family that year, Mason ran into some employees from Placer Dome, which was later acquired by Barrick. Interested by their environmental plans, Mason turned in a resume.

In 2006, he was hired as an Environmental Engineer at the Cortez mine, and by 2012 he became the Program Manager for Native American Affairs. In this role, Mason implemented among other things educational and training opportunities for Barrick’s Western Shoshone partner communities in Nevada.

Mason, now the Manager of Native American Affairs for Barrick U.S.A., says his recent roles are similar to those in the Marine Corps.

“It put the leadership responsibility back on my shoulders. It’s kind of like I went full circle,” he says. “It’s like the same role, being that role model and encouraging people to do things that they may not have done before.”



Barrick employs hundreds of veterans around the globe. This week during the Invictus Games Toronto 2017, you’ll hear from a number of Barrick veterans on what their military service was like, the defining moments they had, the transition from military to civilian life, and how their service has helped them in their roles at Barrick.

Some also shared their thoughts on the Company’s sponsorship of the Veterans Career Summit.

The Summit aims to connect veterans with potential employers and career counsellors to help them find meaningful employment after the military. It takes place on September 28 and 29.