Leadership Insights:
Evolution of the Workforce

“We are more successful when the entire community is successful, and we have the people, skills and opportunity to make a tremendous impact.”

Melissa Gustafson, Vice President, Talent Management

Melissa Gustafson
Vice President, Talent Management

Melissa Gustafson, Vice President, Human Resources, examines the evolution of our workforce as it relates to a ‘just transition’ and its impact on talent and skill requirements. 

This year’s Leadership Insights theme is ‘Just Transition.’ What does that mean to you, and how does it apply to the workforce?

When we think about a just transition, it’s really about answering the question: how do you prepare people for the work that will be available in the future? Recognizing, for example, that the skillset I have today might not be the skillset that’s needed tomorrow, or that what I love about my job today might not exist in the same form tomorrow. So we have to start imagining what new jobs could look like and what new opportunities could look like. And when we think about the move to a greener economy, how do we do it in an equitable way? It’s about thinking, how do we not just let things happen? We have to be intentional and think about how everyone can participate in the transition in a way that is beneficial for them. A practical example from the world we live in is the introduction of autonomous haulage systems. So, today someone physically drives the haul truck, and tomorrow it might be operated remotely from a command center.

How do you respond to the concern of jobs being replaced by technology?

Certainly, one of people’s biggest concerns is that you remove jobs and replace them with technology, with robots or whatever it might be, and that’s all there is. But actually, there are a number of different complexities to consider. In some cases. you will have situations where work goes away. However, you will have many more situations where the work that’s gone is replaced with new and different types of work. So, we consult with employees and mining operations and have programs focused on re-skilling and giving people the opportunity to develop the skills that will be needed in the future. That may be in the form of apprenticeships, on-the-job training or taking advantage of our educational policies.

Can you provide some examples of what Newmont is doing to help transition its workforce through the move to a greener economy?

Our partnership with Caterpillar and our Vision Zero program give us an opportunity to envision what’s ahead. When I think about that, I see an opportunity for our workforce to explore skillsets they don’t have and wish to acquire. I see people doing jobs that look very different from today but are exciting and engaging to them. I see people being part of influencing the path we take going forward and letting us know what’s important to them as their work evolves. I think another good example of how we’re transitioning is how we think about where the work needs to be done. Certainly, the pandemic has brought that issue to the forefront. Not every job related to mining has to happen every day on the mine site. It may be able to be done remotely from another location. So, part of that transition is also thinking about where you locate work, which, in turn, opens access to different talent pools. It allows you to attract people based on a different value proposition and give them a different employee experience. Related to that, it’s not just about doing work off-site, but rather thinking about the entire globe as an opportunity for where you place work. So I might do people analytics in Denver today, but tomorrow my team might be in Ghana and Denver. Leveraging that diversity of location allows us to tap into talent and provide opportunities for people that perhaps previously we felt weren’t practical because everyone had to be co-located. The pandemic taught us that’s not the case. In the paradigm, it’s everyone who makes Newmont successful.

What does the future look like for Newmont’s workforce?

We need to evolve how we integrate all of the people who are part of the experience at Newmont. We are more successful when the entire community is successful, and we have the people, skills and opportunity to make a tremendous impact. I believe wholeheartedly that the individuals in our organization are capable of not just transforming our company for the better but also showing others how to do it. We can be a leader in innovative practices and how we engage our workforce and communities in the transition. And we can share our learnings with others so that we can all successfully complete this journey. I’m confident that we will focus on employees and communities and really recognize the whole system, and that’s what success will look like for us.