As part of our Careers in Mining series, this post looks at the job of Founder and Chief Executive Officer with Jeff Stibbard of JDS Energy and Mining Inc.
Jeff Stibbard is the Founder and CEO of JDS Energy and Mining Inc. He is a Mining Engineer who invests in, designs, builds and operates mines. His experience includes Mining Manager, BHP Ekati Diamond Mine, and General Manager of Mining, Albian Sands Energy Inc. Fort McMurray. Prior to Albian Sands, he was one of the original founding members of Western Oilsands Inc., a 20% partner in the development of Muskeg River Mine, Fort McMurray. Mr. Stibbard received a BASc in Mining Engineering from the Montana School of Mines in 1987. For recreation, he enjoys spending time with his amazing family, participating in outdoor activities including trips in his float plane, hiking, cycling, skate skiing, and early morning weight sessions at the gym.
What is your main role as CEO of a resource development company?
My main role as CEO of JDS is to set the strategic direction of the business overall and ensure that the company is adequately resourced to achieve the strategy, which includes people, equipment, materials, systems and financial capital. All of this has to be done while delivering both an internal and external message of our value proposition to attract and maintain customers and employees. Our ongoing license to operate is only renewed if we deliver on our word consistently, therefore requiring this role to include ongoing follow up and intervention.
What came first – a desire to go into mining, or the desire to become an engineer?
My primary desire was to be employed as a mining engineer. I always identified with the challenges, lifestyle and adventure of the mining business when I was young, and continue to do so today. The risk reward nature of the business is awesome and accommodates all comers. So gaining the skills of a mining engineer only enhanced my ability to be successful and formally involved in higher levels of the business.
When you started out, did you see yourself in such a position, or was that something that evolved as you grew in your career?
I always saw myself rising to the top of the mining business since I was young and I had a pretty clear path of how I was going to do it. Although the path has been changed many times along the way from working in various departments, for various companies and various commodities with different mining methods, the ultimate goal remained, and quite frankly the variability only served to enhance my personal success.
Where have you had the chance to travel to? And what’s been the most exciting or fascinating part of the world you’ve seen?
I have been able to travel to almost all continents (not Antarctica) of the world and meet some terrific people and work on challenging projects. The most interesting area to date has been Russia and Kurdish Iraq.
You must be away from home for extended periods. How long? What makes you the type of person that can do this successfully?
Yes I am away for extended periods of time. However later in my career, I now travel more frequently, but for shorter periods of time. The fact is, that being away becomes what you are used to and working around schedule challenges with family and friends make it all possible. It gets easier with time and it is most important that you have strong family relations and friends that support the quest for success and make the routine work.
What does your average day look like in the office?
I don’t ever have an average day and that’s what I like most, that said I would say that my very early morning coffee meetings that serve as high level strategy sessions with key members of our company are very important for me. After that, learning about how the company is doing on various projects and addressing any urgent issues, is the next priority. Ultimately, soliciting and securing ongoing business is my major priority activity throughout the day.
Do you still get involved in actual engineering?
I like everyone in JDS get involved with engineering and contributing to the value solutions on behalf of our customers. Everyone really has two or more jobs within the company, while still focusing on their core skill sets whether it be engineering, geology, metallurgy, finance etc., that they provide input on, in addition to project management and administration duties that the company requires.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
The highlight of my career so far has been meeting so many interesting people in the business and seeing the young and new team members grow and do well. The most rewarding thing is to see what you created from a crazy idea at the start, grow into to a financially healthy, kick ass group of motivated people driving for long term success.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the people-adventure and money the most about my job.
There must be aspects of the job which you don’t enjoy so much. What are they?
The least desirable part of the business is dealing with overly bureaucratic processes and people that I encounter typical of many large corporations or government, when you can see within that there are highly motivated people and a better way to achieve the objectives. I am generally most impatient in this regard.
As an engineer who’s made it to the top, what advice would you give someone interested in following this path?
I have not made it to the top – there is no real top – the view is constantly changing as you accomplish things you set out to do and the skills that you learn and experience you gain constantly prepares you to do more. Don’t ever waste an opportunity to be challenged and take a risk, take responsibility for delivering, work well with all people in the business, regardless of their title or role, look for role models, be a role model and put back more than you take. Bottom line there are three types of capital required to be successful, financial, intellectual, and trust and they are the most important and hardest to achieve in reverse, so get busy! Learn to care and communicate clearly, accurately, and truthfully, look for solutions and not just report problems, the world is full useless weathermen!
For more interviews with mining professionals in different jobs, have a look at our main Careers in Mining post.
Header photo: aerial seeding at Highland Valley Copper. Image courtesy of Teck Resources Ltd.