Inspirational Women from Nevada Part 2

Published: 04/07/2014

Nancy Gray Made an Unexpected Move and Found the Perfect Career Fit in Nevada Mining

Many Nevadans who make a living in mining had their sights set on the industry for some time. Whether their parents, grandparents or friends of the family introduced them to their eventual career, it is often a decision that was a long time coming.
There are, however, plenty of instances where mining comes secondary to, even as a result of, the miner’s primary areas of interest. In this edition of Meet Your Miners, we learn how a career in mining unexpectedly presented itself as the perfect fit for Nancy Gray of General Moly.
Working in the Elko office as the manager of human resources (HR), compensation and benefits for General Moly, Gray not only oversees what the title of her job would indicate, she is also heavily involved in recruitment, staffing, performance management, policy, labor relations, training and budgeting. And while Gray earned her bachelor’s degree in managerial science with an emphasis in HR from the University of Nevada Reno, the mining industry was not her first stop.

“I chose a career in HR because of my strong interest in business, psychology, sociology and organizational development,” said Gray. “My first professional HR position was in gaming. After getting married, I moved to Elko and found equally exciting HR career opportunities in mining.”
Gray feels that her career in HR, especially in Nevada’s mining industry, offers new challenges and opportunities every day, making her work extremely rewarding. Helping managers and employees find solutions to problems and developing new programs and systems that fit the organization’s culture and needs make the job a constant and enjoyable challenge on a personal level. Keeping up with changes to state and federal benefits as well as employment, wage and labor laws also keeps the work interesting, as Gray is constantly learning and applying new knowledge.
In 2010, Gray earned the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation and was recently recertified. She so enjoys her career in mining that she has become involved with various extra-curricular facets of the industry. Active on the Nevada Mining Association’s HR Committee, Gray served as chair for two years. She is currently the chair of the Compensation and Benefits Survey Sub-Committee. In 2013, Gray began serving as co-chair for the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board Mining Sector Council, which is a three-year commitment.
“There is tremendous camaraderie in mining, which I really enjoy,” noted Gray. “Miners genuinely care about one another, their families and their communities. Mining has allowed me to pursue my chosen career path and earn an excellent living at the same time.”
While it may not have been an expected path, Gray’s journey into mining has lasted her more than 25 years in the industry, and she looks forward to many more to come.
Nevada Mining Association, Thursday, June 26th, 2014
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Nevada Mining Provided a New Career Outlook for Joanne Stursa with Silver Standard Resources Inc.

Though they join us from all over the country, even the world, miners make their homes, build their lives, advance their careers and care for their families right here in Nevada, thanks to the opportunities given to them by mining. In this edition of “Meet your Miners,” we introduce you to one of the many amazing people that made their way to Nevada to pursue a career in the mining industry.

Joanne Stursa grew up on a farm in North Dakota. At 23-years-old, she found herself trying to support her two children earning about five dollars per hour. She knew she had to make a change, so she earned her certification in air conditioning, refrigeration, heating and sheet metal.

With her recent certification, things were looking up for Stursa and her husband and family. But when the oilfield busted in North Dakota, leaving thousands jobless, the family was left with no choice but to move in order to find work. Stursa’s career in mining began immediately following her move to Nevada in 1987, working for a small mining construction company called Lost Dutchman Construction at the Trinity Silver Mine near Lovelock, Nevada.

“We heard of the mining in Nevada,” recalled Stursa. “We packed our bags and moved west. I started working as a laborer on the powder crew. It didn’t take long before I worked my way up to blaster. Mining blew me away, no pun intended; I was hooked!”

She currently operates and trains fellow employees on heavy machinery at Silver Standard Resources’ Marigold Mine. Whether working with the 300-ton Hitachi and Komatsu trucks or the 190-ton Caterpillars, Stursa understands what it takes to work one’s way up to operating such a large machine.

“Training starts with a thorough understanding of the mine’s operating standards, equipment manuals and inspections,” said Stursa, who is in charge of coordinating that training for Silver Standard Resources. “The driver has to complete a series of scenarios and events. Creating a good sense of our mine site creates muscle memory of the actual controls of the trucks while developing strong reaction times.”

Aside from the obvious benefit of taking better care of her family financially, Stursa appreciates the knowledge gained through her career that she would otherwise lacked without a job in mining. The encouragement she tries to bring to the job has helped her in her own growth, as well as her ability to help others transition into their new positions.

“I’m happy coming to work and coming home,” said Stursa. “Never in my wildest dreams, growing up on a farm in North Dakota, did I think I would handle explosives, operate heavy equipment, work in exploration or teach people to do all of these things.”

When asked about opportunities in mining, specifically for women to succeed in the industry, her response echoed that of those who were asked the same question before her: “There are so many opportunities…so many doors that can open. Just find the courage to knock!”

Nevada Mining Association, Thursday, May 29th, 2014
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Ginger Peppard Feels Well-Served by Lessons Learned in Nevada Mining

Jobs in Nevada’s mining community attract people from all walks of life, from all across the country and for a variety of reasons. Some people have a sense they are destined for a career in mining while others take a more indirect path that lands them unexpectedly in this great field.

As our “Meet Your Miners” series continues, we introduce you to Ginger Peppard, a senior environmental specialist from Silver Standard Resources who was pleasantly surprised to discover mining offered everything she wanted from a career.

When asked what motivated her to engage in an environmental career, Peppard recalled, “I always joke that it’s because I wrote ‘environmental science’ on my college application when asked what my interests were and never thought to change it along the way. But the truth is that I’ve always loved the outdoors and had a strong interest to work in the sciences.”

Peppard, who moved to Nevada from the California side of Lake Tahoe at just four years of age, considers herself a “Nevada girl.” She graduated from Galena High School in Reno and furthered her education at The University of Nevada-Reno, receiving her Bachelors of Science in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences with an emphasis in Cultural Ecology and a minor in Chemistry.

In her current position, Peppard is charged with managing a wide variety of areas from corporate social responsibility to air permitting. Peppard’s passion for the mining industry has led not only to her recent promotion, but also to a well-formed understanding of why she loves mining and how she has grown through her experiences in the industry.

“The technical side of science is a good fit for my personality; it requires being detail oriented but is always developing and growing, just as I like to do,” she said. “As my career has grown, I have been lucky enough to be mentored by some great bosses. They showed me that the people side of the business is just as important as the science and helped me grow my ‘softer’ skills.”

Having been in the industry for more than four years, Peppard was initially impressed by Goldcorp’s Creating Choices training program, in which she participated upon her move to the organization roughly three years ago. The program emphasizes personal attributes, building self-esteem, setting and achieving goals, using one’s voice and achieving a leader’s presence. Peppard admits that she has grown on a personal level because of her career, and she believes every woman, in the industry or not, would benefit from such an inspirational program.

When asked about opportunities for both her and other women in the industry, Peppard said, “I think the outlook for career opportunities in the mining industry for women is better than it has ever been. I’ve been able to meet other women in positions across the board from janitors to nurses to mine engineers and board members, and it’s given me so much hope about how women can succeed.

“When I went to school, I never even imagined I would, or even wanted to, work in the mining industry, but almost on a daily basis, my decision to enter mining has proven to be a beneficial experience for me.  Wherever my career ends up taking me, I know the lessons I’ve learned by working in the mining industry, everything from the technical skills to management and people skills, will serve me well.”

Nevada Mining Association, Thursday, May 15th, 2014
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