From the management team at one of the world’s fastest-growing senior gold producers to her role in her community, Colette Rustad knows the value of taking control and being an active participant.
Now entering her third cycle in the gold business, Rustad, Senior Vice President and Controller of Vancouverbased Goldcorp Inc., is at the top of her game building high-performing teams around the world and adapting to an ever-changing market landscape.
In 2007, Rustad joined Goldcorp full time as Controller after working for the publicly traded resource giant in both Brazil and Mexico as a consultant. With the company going through a period of exponential growth through acquisition at the time, her first order of business was building local finance teams capable of implementing a common corporate vision and set of reporting and compliance objectives, while allowing the culturally diverse site leadership to effectively run the business.
Managing across borders
Goldcorp has operations and development projects in Canada, the US, Mexico, Central and South America, which presents Rustad with challenges beyond physical boundaries and cultural values.
“We have an extremely decentralized model, where decisionmaking is at the sites,” says Rustad. “My responsibility has been to really ensure that model works.”
“It’s about having the right people in the right positions, who can sit at the decision-making table and demonstrate how compliance and finance are relevant to the business and add value,” she says.
“I’m proud of what we’ve built in various parts of the world,” she says. “We’ve created an environment where different cultures and people with diverse business backgrounds have been able to flourish.”
Rustad has lots of experience working in an industry that functions within a changing macroeconomic environment. She attributes a company’s people and its ability to stay on top of its cost structure as the primary way to remain competitive as metal prices consistently fluctuate.
“I’ve seen what it’s like to be in the gold business when times are tough. You need to run your business with that volatility in mind,” she explains. “It’s really important to take what you’ve learned in a downward cycle and use it to influence what you do in the good times.”
Setting the foundation
Rustad credits her eight years working at EY in Toronto for laying the groundwork for her career. She values the opportunities she had to work with extraordinary leaders on a multitude of projects in a whole host of industries. The strong foundation to see things from all angles as well as leveraging diversity of thought, she says, come from the time she spent working with clients at financial institutions and in the resource sector on both audit and tax teams at EY.
“EY gave me the breadth and bandwidth to tackle the challenges of balancing the different stakeholders of the business I’m now in,” she says. “I had the benefit of being exposed to all the great things that the banking system and the regulatory system had to offer in the early days.”
Rustad is dedicated to ensuring her teams — both at the sites locally and at headquarters in Vancouver — are in compliance with government and regulatory bodies globally.
“What it really comes down to is politics,” she says. “Educating governments and the various stakeholders about the benefits of mining has never been the industry’s strong suit, and we continue to focus on how to effectively convey this message to governments and stakeholders around the world.” Rustad says finance has a major role to play to articulate the value equation, helping those key players understand when the rewards outweigh the risks, and vice versa.
It’s apparent Rustad also values the balance between work, family life and the community. She encourages people to build sustainable value in every facet of their lives.
And this is a concept she believes in wholeheartedly. “This is why I do what I do.”
Building a social licence
Getting involved in the community is more than important for both Goldcorp and Rustad, it’s integral.
Rustad believes companies such as Goldcorp have a duty to respect the environments and communities where they do business. “There’s tremendous opportunity to effect real change by being at the forefront in some of the poorest areas of the world,” she explains. “Boosting the GDP of these nations and taking an active role on the ground spark real change.”
Getting involved in her own community at home in Canada is another way Rustad helps improve the lives of others. She is a staunch supporter of the United Way and is a champion for seniors’ care.
She always makes time for family and friends. Whether it’s spending days off with her husband, Bruce, and their two daughters, Kaitlyn, 12, and Arielle, 10, or spending time with her girlfriends hiking the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, she values every moment.
Rustad believes making the most of opportunity is the key to success. “Always find a way to say yes to an opportunity that crosses your path. Create opportunities and make valuable contributions and connections.”
And it’s clear that she follows her own advice. “I’m always learning and acquiring new skills, always adding value — in all areas of my life.”