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January 30, 2013
By Claudene Wharton
In November 2011, Barrick Gold Corporation's top management and University of Nevada, Reno administrators from Extended Studies and the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering met to brainstorm on how the University could help provide specific education and training for some of Barrick's midlevel managers and supervisors.
"These are employees who have come up through the ranks, and know their industry very well," said Jim McClenahan, director of management and executive programs for the University's Extended Studies. "They have developed the technical knowledge and skills for their field, but they need help in some general areas of business, such as human resources, business writing, presentation skills and team-building, to be effective managers and feel comfortable communicating with the organization's top managers.
"We wanted to develop a program that would be similar to what is offered for full-time students at business/mining schools," Nigel Bain, general manager of Barrick Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture, said. "It just so happens that we have that expertise right here in Nevada at UNR's top-notch business school."
For the six or seven months following that initial meeting, McClenahan worked closely with Barrick's management team to conduct a needs assessment and design a leadership development series of courses that would help fill in these gaps. He enlisted the help of the University's College of Business, including Dean Greg Mosier and other faculty members, to help develop the curriculum and teach the courses.
The result was the Barrick Gold Leadership Development Program, a unique, collaborative pilot program consisting of 12 all-day sessions, as well as outside coursework, that began Oct. 1 and concludes March 18. The 23 employees whom Barrick chose to participate in the program traveled to Reno for the first few sessions, but the University has delivered most of the sessions in Elko, in cooperation with Great Basin College.
"It took us a little while to work through the curriculum, and we had to re-work things a couple of times," said Bain, "but so far we have had very positive feedback from our participants, a few have even added future areas of study."
"The program is quite extensive and challenging," McClenahan added. "The participants have to do final projects where they pose real business-related problems, propose detailed solutions and then show the benefits of those solutions. The course takes a lot of time and effort on the part of the participants, but they are getting a lot out of it."
Barrick Gold Corporation and the University work together regularly, with Barrick regularly supporting efforts of the College of Science's Mackay School, as well as the College of Business and the College of Engineering. Barrick provides support for professorships, equipment and other needs. The company also offers internships for students and participates in career fairs and other activities, where representatives interact with and recruit soon-to-be graduates to help fulfill the organization's needs for an educated workforce.