I believe it is an exciting time to be a woman in our industry. Gender diversity is essential. There will be more and more opportunities for talented and hard-working young women that will require a wide range of skill sets. The focus is not only on attracting women, but also retaining them and, most importantly, developing them.
Andree St-Germain started her career in investment banking, focussing mainly on assisting mining companies with mergers and acquisitions. As she became more intrigued by the industry, she moved to work directly for a mining company, where the multi-faceted nature of her daily challenges keeps her passionate and engaged. She has held roles as Chief Financial Officer for three Canadian mining companies and as a board member of several other North American companies.
By Kathy Sole
How did mining come to you? How did you choose mining as a career?
After completing an MBA (Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto), I started my career in investment banking. For the first few months, I was placed in a pool where I had the chance to work in several different industries. I had little interest in sectors such as biotech or IT, but I found mining – the idea that we as a society have been finding and extracting minerals from the ground for hundreds of years – fascinating. I was assigned exclusively to the mining group, where I primarily focussed on mergers and acquisitions. In 2013, I took a big leap into the industry and joined Vancouver-based Golden Queen Mining as CFO.
Please describe your current role.
I’m the Chief Financial Officer of Integra Resources, a development-stage mining company focussed on the exploration and development of the past-producing DeLamar Gold–Silver Project in Idaho, USA. Working for a development company requires you to wear multiple hats – typical CFO tasks, such as financing, budgeting, financial reporting, and internal controls – but also strategy, HR, IT, CSR, and corporate governance. It requires strategic thinking, problem-solving skills, and initiative. No two days are ever the same! What I love the most about my current role is our Integra team. We have created an extraordinary work environment. We work hard, but we laugh often!
What is your experience of being a woman working in the mining sector?
I have been fortunate to work for companies that promote gender diversity. I never felt that I was not given an opportunity due to my gender or treated differently because I am a woman. I believe it is an exciting time to be a woman in our industry. Gender diversity is essential, and companies are taking actions to address the matter. There will be more and more opportunities for talented and hard-working young women that will require a wide range of skill sets. The focus is not only on attracting women, but also retaining them and, most importantly, developing them.
What are you passionate about in your work?
The multiple facets of our industry keep it interesting and exciting for me. In my role as CFO and also as a director, I have the opportunity to be exposed to many aspects of mining, from exploration, development, ESG [environmental, social, and governance], financing, and capital markets, which makes for a stimulating and fulfilling career.
I also truly enjoy the networking at industry events. I believe in the future of our industry: mining can enhance the lives of local communities, be a critical player in the industries of the future, and make a positive impact on all stakeholders. We work in a very cyclical industry. Loving what you do, and being passionate about it, will get you through the lows of the cycle.
Have you had mentors or sponsors that helped you on the way?
Many sponsors helped me throughout my career. These sponsors empowered me and fostered my ambitions. Some of these relationships led to opportunities, which I had the courage to take and, as important, delivered on expectations.
What challenges have you experienced by virtue of working in an industry that is predominantly male? Do you feel you have had to adapt to ‘fit’ the industry?
I didn’t face many challenges due to my gender. We all have different personality traits. I tend to be assertive and I do not get intimidated easily. These personality traits generally work well in a male-dominated industry. I do not have children, but I understand how the “family vs. career” dilemma can be challenging for some women. Our industry does offer roles at head offices for those who want to limit field work or travels to focus on family.
What would you love to do next?
Well, once done with Integra 2.0, get started on Integra 3.0 then Integra 4.0. All joking aside, in the long term (~10 years from now), I’d like to be a full-time Director and join more Boards. I’ll be starting the Institute of Corporate Directors course in 2020 to obtain my ICD designation.
What is one thing you wish you’d been told when you were starting out that you know now.
I neglected my health when I first started my career. I didn’t exercise and had poor eating habits. I blamed it on the long hours and travels. I was in the worst shape I’ve ever been. I know better now, and gain from the physiological and mental benefits of exercising daily.
What is the biggest mistake that you’re really happy you made?
Things don’t always work out sometimes, but I always make the most of each situation. You learn from it, and move on.
Do you sit on a board? If not, would you like to?
Yes, I am currently on the Board of Ascot Resources and will be joining the Board of the British Columbia Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) in January 2020. I was previously on the Boards of IDM Mining until its sale to Ascot Resources in March 2019, and of Barkerville Gold Mines until its sale to Osisko Royalty in November 2019.
What is your opinion in the women-on-boards debate? Are you pro quotas or against them?
We definitely need more women on boards, and the industry is moving in the right direction. There has been a significant push over the past few years to add more women to boards. Shareholders understand the value of board diversity and are requesting changes. I do not believe gender quotas are the solution. We need diversity of thought at the board level. Gender diversity is only one facet of diversity: we also need more diversity in skillset, ethnicity, and age.
Do you believe women in mining groups can help to change the image of the industry and make the sector more attractive to women?
Yes, I believe these groups are critical. Women in mining groups offer an important networking platform and can provide role models/mentors to new women entering the industry. These groups also highlight the multiple career opportunities available in the mining industry, which is a multi- facet industry. It’s not all about geology and engineering: environmental impact and social issues are as important, and offer interesting career paths.
Any advice to young women starting out in their careers?
-Identify opportunities and have the courage to go for them.
-Don’t underestimate the importance of networking and building your network; mining associations are a great way to start.
-Share your knowledge with others; empower people working with you.
-You can’t do it all on your own. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and surround yourself with people with complementary skills.
-You often are the young person in the room. Think differently. Don’t be intimidated. Surround yourself with a team that embraces “out-of-the-box” thinking.
-Build exercise into your routine to maintain mental and physical health.
-Above all, be passionate and work hard and you’ll become a ‘hot commodity!’
What do you wish you’d know when you were 25?
The importance of reading, such as professional-development books and industry-specific news. I’m trying to read more now. But like flossing, you know it’s good for you, but somehow you don’t always take the time.
What is your secret to work–life balance?
First, working for a company that promotes work–life balance, and second, having interests and passions outside of work. I like to sign-up for races well in advance as this gives me extra motivation to train. I typically sign-up for one or two half-Ironman races per year. I also signed up for my first marathon this year!
Do you have any books that you can recommend?
John C. Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 and Alex Hutchinson Endure – Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance (for the athlete within us!).
I also have a few audiobooks on the go: Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers, Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari.
Have you any hobbies, pastimes, or secret talents that you would like to tell us about?
I love the outdoors! Snowboarding, running (currently training for my first marathon), cycling, triathlon (half-Ironman distances), hiking, and traveling. Unfortunately, no secret talents!
Ms. St-Germain is the Chief Financial Officer of Integra Resources Corp. (TSX-V:ITR). She is an experienced mining finance executive with an extensive background in banking, mining finance, and financial management. She began her career in investment banking for Dundee Capital Markets Inc. As an investment banker, Ms. St-Germain worked exclusively with mining companies on merger-and acquisition advisory and financing. In 2013, Ms. St-Germain joined Golden Queen Mining Co. Ltd. as CFO. During her tenure at Golden Queen, she played an instrumental role in securing project finance and overseeing Golden Queen as it transitioned from development and construction to commercial production. She joined Integra Gold as CFO in early 2017 and helped oversee the sale to Eldorado Gold Corp. in July 2017 for C$590 million. Ms. St-Germain is currently a director of Ascot Resources Ltd. (TSX:AOT).