Young engineer experiences life at the top of a diamond company

De Beers interviews University of Alberta student Jessica Wu and CEO Kim Truter about their CEOx1Day experience at the world's largest new diamond mine


De Beers Canada hosts local CEOx1Day participant at world’s largest new diamond mine

From a -30C visit to an active mining pit in Canada’s Arctic to holding a four carat rough diamond, mechanical engineering student Jessica Wu has had a taste of what it’s like to be the Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s leading diamond company.

Jessica, in her fourth year at the University of Alberta, was selected by executive search firm Odgers Berndtson to shadow De Beers Canada CEO Kim Truter as part of the national CEOx1Day initiative for 20 third and fourth-year university students across Canada. Students are matched with company CEOs, with the goal that they get exposed to real world situations to equip them with tools and skills needed to start building their careers.

Supporting CEOx1Day was a good fit for De Beers as the company has undergone a major transformation in the last year, including opening a new Operational Support Centre in Calgary as well as officially opening the Gahcho Kué Mine ahead of schedule in the Northwest Territories, the company’s third asset in Canada and the world’s largest new diamond mine in the last 13 years.

De Beers is also focused on increasing the diversity of our Canadian workforce, including through programs like our Mine Professional in Training (MPiT) program, which received more than 900 applications for 2017 positions.

“We are working very hard to find new ways to increase the diversity of our workforce, especially with a commitment to attract females and Aboriginal persons into mining through a new suite of initiatives across De Beers,” explained Kim Truter. “It was great to host Jessica, a bright young student who is very focused on developing a career in engineering that is becoming more and more appealing to young women here in Canada, which can open up doors to exciting opportunities in what has been previously viewed as non-traditional roles for women.”

Jessica flew to the remote Gahcho Kué Mine in the Northwest Territories, which is only accessible by air with the exception of approximately six weeks each winter when an ice road is used to resupply the mine. Originally scheduled to spend one night, Jessica learned first-hand the challenges of working in remote locations on the edge of Arctic as a blizzard canceled flights into and out of the mine, forcing her to spend the second night. The following week, Jessica spent a day in De Beers’ Calgary Operational Support Centre, where she shadowed Kim and spent time with a variety of employees to learn about different aspects of the business, including geology, community relations, and human resources.

“Shadowing is the most effective way of learning, and especially from someone who has had a very successful career,” said Jessica. “Through this program, I hoped I would gain insight into what a CEO was like, what they do, the kinds of challenges they have overcome … as well as some of the skills they have required throughout their career and what advice they have for me from someone who was just starting their career.”

While at the mine, Jessica rode in a haul truck carrying 200+ tonnes of ore, saw rough diamonds recovered in the process plant, spent time with Mine General Manager Allan Rodel, and learned how De Beers provides water, sewer, and other services like you’d find in any municipality. She was especially impressed by the quality of food served to employees at the mine.

De Beers Canada employs close to 900 people, of whom 25 per cent are Aboriginal and 15 per cent are female.

For a short video documenting Jessica’s experience, CLICK HERE.