Global leader

Jennifer Maki, CEO of Vale Canada and executive director of Vale Base Metals, talks about the importance of nurturing relationships and staying connected with colleagues and employees abroad.

Q. What attracted you to Vale?

Vale has a presence on five continents and is in close to 30 countries. That international reach provides an opportunity to work with people across the world, to experience different cultures and operating environments and tackle the challenges that follow.

What has been your most successful motivational tool to date?

The two most important tools for me have been building strong relationships and delivering results. The two go hand-in-hand. Strong relationships bring out the best that people have to offer, and with the proper guidance and support, results follow.

How do you stay connected with employees when you’re leading such a large team?

Having moved up in the company through the years, I have had the opportunity to get to know a lot of people in a lot of different positions. I’ve continued to nurture those relationships. Respectful and sincere relationships, regardless of position, keep me connected with the larger organization. For example, I have regular calls with my teams in Asia where zone differences of 12 to 16 hours make connecting less than optimal. Something as simple as making it a point to schedule a call when it is most convenient for them promotes strong engagement.

How does the executive team stay connected with each other?

When you’re separated by geography and time zones as we are, staying connected requires effort and commitment on everyone’s part. Technology helps. Phone calls, videoconferences and e-mails (some would say too many) help us to stay abreast of what is happening with each other and within our respective areas of responsibility. We also make it a priority to visit the operations as much as possible. Nothing is more effective than face-to-face contact and generating opportunities for that to occur allows us to support each other and understand what one another is facing to the fullest extent.

Jennifer Maki was named CEO of Vale Canada and executive director of Vale Base Metals in November; she’s also held the posts of CFO/executive vice-president and vice-president/ treasurer.