Hatching your career in Human Resources? You might picture yourself working in a high-rise office building in one of Canada’s largest cities, such as Toronto or Calgary.
But University of Saskatchewan Bachelor of Commerce graduate Katelyn McAuliffe’s career has taken her a bit further north: she started as a Human Resources Graduate in Yellowknife in August 2011, with BHP Billiton, a leading global resources company.
“I love the fact that my job is diverse – I learn something new every day.” —Katelyn McAuliffe, Human Resources Graduate, BHP Billiton
“I have always been interested in working in the mining industry as I find it exciting and an integral contributor to the Canadian economy,” she says.
She now works at the EKATI Diamond Mine, the cornerstone of BHP Billiton’s diamond business. EKATI, located 310 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife and just 200 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle, is a big change from her home town, Saskatoon. The mine site’s high latitude means there are only about five hours of daylight in December and 20 hours in June, with twilight lasting all night long from late May to early July!
Right now, Katelyn is working out of offices located above a truck shop where a lot of the site’s maintenance takes place. “I don’t always work from the same office or work station,” she says. “I enjoy being mobile – it keeps work interesting.”
Keep reading to find out what a day in the life of a Human Resources Graduate at BHP Billiton‘s EKATI Diamond Mine is like!
Mornings at the mine
Whether the sun is up or not, Katelyn’s work days start early. She wakes up around 5:30 a.m., has a hearty breakfast and walks down the long arctic corridor, which is an enclosed tunnel that connects the accommodations buildings to the other parts of the mine.
“After climbing three industrial storeys to the truck shop offices, I pour a strong coffee, start reviewing emails and put together a task list for the day,” she says.
Some mornings, Katelyn attends one of the safety meetings that each operations department holds at the start of every day. “It’s a good opportunity to interact with the crews and make sure I am focusing on safety,” she says.
She also tries to schedule her meetings in the morning because it can take quite a bit of time to travel between different buildings at the huge mine site. “That way, if I need to go somewhere else on site, I can do that before settling into my office.”
“I usually walk back to the main camp to have lunch in the cafeteria with co-workers from different departments at the mine.”
In the afternoon, Katelyn works closely with her colleagues and manager in the Human Resources department.
“We discuss the tasks that we need to do and any problems that need to be solved,” she says. “Some of the work that we do includes organizational chart changes, initiating recruitment, coaching the managers through employee or labour relations issues, and responding to employees who have HR-related questions.”
At BHP Billiton, Katelyn has been exposed to many different areas of HR, including recruitment, employee and labour relations, benefits, and organizational development. “I love the fact that my job is diverse – I learn something new every day.”
Ending the day at EKATI
“At the end of the day, I will check to see if all the tasks that I wanted to complete are done and my emails are answered,” she says.
After work, she often spends time socializing with friends, most of whom she has met through work in Yellowknife or at EKATI. The mine site is equipped with many different activities, including golf simulators, a full-size gym where employees play volleyball, basketball and floor hockey, a running track, squash and racketball courts, and a weight room, to name just a few.
“Everyone at EKATI is working toward common goals, so it’s a collaborative work environment with friendly, knowledgeable staff. I often spend time with co-workers after working hours learning about their work.”