MBA students fly to labrador City for whirlwind tour of mining operation
By Karl Moore
On Thursday, Oct. 24, 44 McGill MBA students and their professors, myself included, started at it earlier than normal, assembling at 5:45 a.m. at Trudeau Airport for a 2+ hour chartered flight to visit the Iron Ore Company of Canada mine in Labrador City, Labrador.
As part of their CEO Insights course, the students had been given eight consulting projects by IOC CEO Zoe Yujnovich (who is co-teaching the course with me), and her executive team. In groups of six the students had done their desk research, met with their executive sponsors, interviewed IOC employees and were now ready to see the mine and meet with IOC staff in Labrador City for a deep dive into the issues they had been assigned. Zoe and other members of the IOC executive committee were on the flights there and back, so they were fielding questions early.
After a sometimes bumpy ride, we landed at Wabash airport and boarded the bus. Our first stop was the Tim Horton’s where, it was noted, the whole group was served in under 10 minutes – a highly efficient operation, rather typical of Lab City.
From there we went to the mine for a tour of the sprawling facility. We were struck by the immensity of the site with giant trucks and excavating shovels that dwarfed the men and women working with them. After a bone-jarring hour navigating the mine’s roads it was a pleasure to arrive at the mine headquarters for meetings with Zoe, the head of Operations Chief, the Mayor of Lab City, and for other employees that would give us valuable insights into the consulting projects that MBA groups were working on.
Issues that we had discussed in class, the triple bottom line, for example, came alive. During the presentations elements of all three components of a triple bottom line: profits, community and environment came to the fore in their turn. How to understand and appreciate all three and then make them relevant and important to how a firm operates in action is not the easiest of tasks.
After the presentations and interviews the group went on a short tour of Lab City, a city essentially carved out of the wilderness to serve the needs of the mine.
On the way back, a few people napped briefly as the very early wake up took its toll. Most however, enjoyed the chance to share reflections on the day and continue their discussions with the executives. One of the advantages of charter flight is that the pilots were able and willing to have the passengers come up and chat with them in the cockpit. One lucky soul got to sit in the jump seat right behind the pilots for the takeoff from Wabash airport.
The experience was beneficial for everyone involved. Zoe, IOC’s CEO said that “supporting educational partnerships has always been important to IOC and I am thrilled to be able to further those partnerships to include McGill University. We were honoured to have the Desautels Faculty of Management spend some time with us in Labrador City to see first-hand what we do.”
The students echoed Zoe’s sentiments, many expressed how this was a highlight of the year thus far and they very much were stimulated by a break from the classroom and being on-site in the “real world” of one of Canada’s northern communities.
Karl Moore is a professor in the Desautels Faculty of Management.