Melissa Harmon graduated from the University's Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering in 2000 with a bachelor's degree in Mining Engineering. She went on to complete her Master of Business Administration at Auburn University. Harmon remains heavily involved in the Mackay School, despite now working as the Vice President of Productivity for the Newmont Corporation, and until April of this year being the General Manager of the Cripple Creek and Victor Mine.
Harmon serves as the Executive Sponsor to the University for Newmont, and is a member of the Mackay School's Executive Advisory Board and the Mining and Mineral Engineering Professional Advisory Board.
"I think that the uniquely small Mackay School really connects students to their education and inspires them to remain involved - with both their time and money - for years to come," Harmon said.
She recently presented at the Global Business Leaders in Mining Diversity Conference and was featured in a video from the World Gold Council about the experiences of women working in the mining sector. Harmon is enthusiastic about making the mining industry a welcoming place for women and people of all backgrounds. Her accomplishments have been recognized through two other awards at the University. Harmon was named the Mackay Young Alumnus of the Year in 2012 and the Mackay Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 2020.
In 2021, Harmon was named one of the inaugural Wolf Pack Way alumni. Each of the Wolf Pack Way alumni have exhibited successful careers and exceptional dedication to their work and their communities.
What does it mean to you to be a Wolf Pack Way alumnus?
I am honored to be featured on the Wolf Pack Way. I think it is great for students to see the faces of their predecessors and hopefully feel excited and inspired for their own futures. Knowing that there are so many accomplished professionals that all came through the University also helps instill that sense of school pride that is important, as it keeps students connected to their alma mater for life.
What is your most memorable experience at the University?
I had two very separate circles of friends at the University – I had my sisters in Kappa Alpha Theta and I had my fellow students in Mackay. I greatly enjoyed both and felt like I got to have two completely different university experiences at the same time, with my fellow Mackay students engaging with me on academic thinking and leadership in mining and my sorority membership teaching me diverse leadership and collaboration. Both experiences were essential to shaping me into the modern mining leader that I am today.
What person or resource on campus was most instrumental to helping you succeed?
I lived in the old DeLaMare Library. I think I knew just about every spot you could hide and study in there. I also acted as a math tutor, which helped me by keeping my skills fresh. And, I was a frequent user of office hours, particularly for challenging classes. Nowadays, there are so many more resources available on campus and so many different places that students can go to study or hangout, I think if I was going to the University today, I would be much more active in seeking out what is available and using whatever resources I could to help me out.
What was the most important thing you learned at the University that put you on your path to success?
I learned that the things you want in life take focus and effort. My professors helped instill in me a need to organize, prioritize and work hard. I also learned to ask for help and found that people are almost always willing to help you be successful, if you just ask them for help. I found out that there is a lot of knowledge out there and so much of it is fascinating, that I found a lifelong passion for learning and continuous personal development.