In this series, we introduce you to the winners of Goldcorp’s Global Excellence Awards 2019. The Awards were launched in 2014 and are held every year to celebrate excellence and recognize achievements and successes made by individuals and teams across our organization who are thinking innovatively, finding ways to improve our business and supporting our vision of Together, Creating Sustainable Value.
Well-known Author, Henry David Thoreau was once quoted, “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of people to elevate themselves by conscious endeavour.” If these words hold true, then Mark’s confidence in his team’s ability to excel is expressed through his authentic leadership style.
Mark Somppi, Mill Manager at Musselwhite Mine and recipient of this year’s Global Excellence Award for Authentic Leadership, has been with Goldcorp for 12 years. Starting as a metallurgist at Musselwhite, Mark has developed a well-deserved reputation as a respected leader who coaches, mentors, develops his team and works to inspire and motivate everyone around him. Moreover, Mark goes out of his way to identify employee’s personal and professional goals, creates new career opportunities and guides team members to take on more challenging roles where they can excel.
“He recognizes the potential of each of his workers, even before they may recognize it themselves,” says Melissa Martikkala, Mill Project Specialist.
Mark recognized that Melissa needed a change after working years as a metallurgical technician/refiner. He started assigning her additional duties and giving her small projects to increase her experience and strengthen her leadership skills. When she was ready, he promoted her to the newly created position of Mill Project Specialist, one that allows her to collaborate with other departments, such as maintenance and use her metallurgical and mineral processing expertise. In fact, Melissa has elevated her career further and has since been promoted to a coordinator position in the safety department.
“This style of mentorship is something he offers to everyone,” states Melissa. “As a woman, in a department dominated by men, I am very fortunate to have a manager who sets no limits or boundaries on my success.”
When the assay lab was facing work reductions, Mark developed an impressive progression plan that enabled individuals to transition from the lab into new roles in the mill. The program included cross-training with other departments to ensure each employee could safely work in every area of the mill which included the development of a compensation progression plan.
“This program allowed us to retain all employees in the mill, crusher and assay lab through re-organization and training,” recalls Alan Makarchuk, Mill Coordinator. “This also gave us the opportunity to bring in assay lab trainees from our local First Nation communities.”
Mark is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion at Musselwhite. Together with Shane Matson from the Sustainability Department, entry-level positions were created through a local First Nation’s employment agency. The mill and assay lab teams dedicated time and commitment to train numerous individuals and transformed introductory positions into long-term careers for local community members. Mark is continuing his work with the Sustainability Department to recognize further opportunities for local First Nation contractors to be a part of building the future Musselwhite Mine.
Mark also encourages the development of new employees; he promotes and makes visible the merits, hard work, and relentless energy of the team. For example, he supported Ziad Yamak, a Graduate Development Program (GDP) employee, to publish his findings from lab work and research at Musselwhite in the prestigious peer-reviewed CIM journal that is slated for print in Q2 2019. Not only is this achievement possibly a first for the company’s successful Graduate Development Program but, the information allows vendors world-wide to recognize how they can supply better quality product to the industry.
His care and compassion for everyone he works with is the hallmark of his management style underscored by a commitment to clear, direct communication.
“As a peer of Mark, the way he challenges me and the other managers to think outside the box is empowering,” says Aileen Pajunen, Human Resources Manager. “He listens to every department manager and inspires us to identify new ways to do things making us and our team stronger. With the senior management team, his strongest communication skill is how he listens and then provides support and encouragement.”
Communicating with the entire mill team is very important to Mark. If he is at the mine, he will attend as many crew meetings as possible. If he can’t attend in person, he’ll call in often from home. He’s a champion of inter-departmental collaboration, actively encouraging his team to involve other departments in projects and initiatives.
He is passionately committed to safety and regularly talks to teams about safety practices. Every time there’s a safety incident at the mill, Mark directs his team to develop a presentation outlining actions taken, preventative measures and lessons learned. This presentation is then shared with all the crews, which is one reason why Musselwhite has not had a medical aid or lost time incident since December 29, 2014.
Putting Mark’s leadership style in perspective, Metallurgist David Weirmeir states: “Mark Somppi is a very passionate individual whose reach has influenced many people inside and outside of Goldcorp. “Nothing makes him more excited than when he’s talking about his people – whether it be their safety, their personal or career developments or their overall job satisfaction. He’s a driving force of change to all of those around him, both near and far, whose passion for developing people is the true mark of an Authentic Leader.”