Spotlight: Claire Parkinson — “when you stop learning, you stop growing”

Claire Parkinson, Head of Processing, Ontario Operations. Image from Vale.

 A 20-year veteran of Vale, Claire Parkinson, Head of Processing at Ontario Operations, has much wisdom and experience to share, advising those who are new and not so new to mining to keep learning and taking on new challenges. “Vale has so many different opportunities and when you stop learning you stop growing.”​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​Q: When and where did you get your start at Vale?

A: I started at Vale in 1999 as an Engineer in Training in the Sudbury Surface Operations, I did work in various Process Tech departments as a co-op student while doing my undergraduate degree from 1995-1998.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your role?

A: As the Head of Processing for Ontario Operations I work with the Ontario surface plants from milling to final product refining to ensure the safe production of nickel, copper, cobalt and precious metals. 

Q: Was there someone who served as a mentor to you at Vale? What was one of the more valuable things you learned from them?

A: I have had several mentors over the years and have learned impactful things from each one. I remember early in my career having a mentoring relationship with Sue Tessier; she showed me how to balance technical expertise and caring for people in a male-dominated environment. Mike McCann taught me that it was okay to show that family was your first priority and that you could advance your career while raising a young family.

Q: What was one of your more memorable moments and/or proudest accomplishment at Vale so far?

A: ​​​​​​​I have been with Vale for over 20 years and have enjoyed every minute (well most minutes). I am very proud of the path I have taken in the organization. I have always had a heart for the operations and I have moved through my career always coming back to the operations where I feel I can have the greatest impact. I have had amazing opportunities to do many different things over the years (technical, benefits, systems, health and safety, and special projects)  and I proudly come back to the heart of the surface operations.

Q: Why have you stayed with the company for so long and how has Vale changed over time?

A: ​​​​​I have stayed with Vale all these years because of the opportunities that I have been provided to continue to learn, meet new people, and challenge myself while adding value to the organization. I feel that one of the most evident changes that I have seen over the years is the increase in diversity in all areas of our business. I remember not so long ago being one of the only females in most meetings that I attended in the various roles I have held. Today, the diversity is evident and makes me proud to be part of Vale North Atlantic Operations.

Q: Do you have any advice for someone just starting at Vale?

A: Take the opportunity to continue to learn, take on challenges that might be different than what you entered the organization to do. Vale has so many different opportunities and when you stop learning you stop growing. Explore what is possible, you might be surprised where you find the most joy in the work you are doing every day and most importantly, have fun!

Vale is committed to becoming an increasingly inclusive company and is taking deliberate steps towards diversifying its workforce. Learn about career opportunities at Vale here.


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