Lisa McDonald is the new executive director for PDAC

From convention co-ordinator to an executive position

by Zoë Dupley
Lisa McDonald is the new executive director for The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

Lisa McDonald knows that job advancement is all about relationships. — Photo courtesy PDAC

Unlike many of her peers, Lisa McDonald, the new executive director of The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), didn’t set out for a career in geology, engineering, finance or mining. She stumbled into the industry through her work as an events professional.

More than 20 years ago, McDonald worked as a co-ordinator on the annual PDAC Convention in Toronto and went on to become its convention director from 2001 to 2008. In this role, she proudly watched the event grow to become the world’s premier mineral exploration and mining convention, drawing up to 30,000 attendees from 135 countries each year. McDonald later became PDAC’s chief operations officer, which led to her current role as executive director.

“It’s hard to believe that I’ve been working in minerals and mining for more than 20 years already,” said McDonald. “It’s a fantastic industry filled with unbelievably passionate, committed and fun people. There isn’t another industry like it—I’m hooked!”

Directing from a new position

Serving as executive director in an interim capacity for one year allowed McDonald the opportunity to turn attention from PDAC operations and conventions to the advocacy initiatives of the association. She gained an insight and understanding of the trends impacting and influencing the energy industry, and what can done to ensure its future success.

“Our industry is truly vast in size and scope and contributes an enormous amount of prosperity to all Canadians,” McDonald said. “That being said, there are always going to be challenges facing us from both a national and international standpoint. 

“I’m excited to be a part of the team working on behalf of the industry to ensure it has the ability to explore land and develop mines today and well into the future.”  

Lisa McDonald is the new executive director for The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC).

McDonald didn’t set out for a career in geology, engineering, finance or mining, but ended up in the energy industry as an events professional. — Photo courtesy PDAC

PDAC represents the mining industry

PDAC is the leading voice of the mineral sector, representing more than 8,000 members around the world to ensure they have the best chance for success in their business. Its members range from students, part-time prospectors and geologists to junior or major mining companies.

“We represent them all,” McDonald said. “PDAC’s advocacy efforts deserve to be highlighted. We work with our members, partners and stakeholders throughout the year to ensure the industry has access to the capital, land and skills required to responsibly discover and develop deposits of the minerals and metals that make modern life possible.”

The Government of Canada has recently renewed the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit (METC) for five years (until 2024).

“This is the first multi-year renewal of the METC since its inception in 2000, something PDAC had long championed,” said McDonald. “We are proud of this victory for our members.”

PDAC also stands as an information hub. Much of its research is developed into helpful resources for its members, such as e3 Plus: A Framework for Responsible Exploration, State of Mineral Finance 2018: Gaining Momentum and Unlocking Northern Resource Potential: The Role of Infrastructure.

The educational opportunities presented by the annual PDAC Convention have major appeal for many attendees looking to stay ahead and informed of evolving trends and technologies. The Aboriginal, sustainability, capital markets, and student programs, short courses and networking events are among the most sought-after.

Close to the heart

The student program at PDAC is both unique and critical to the industry as it approaches an expected skills shortage over the next 10 years.

“Our Student-Industry Mineral Exploration Workshop (S-IMEW), introduced in 2007, was a bold initiative to take around 25 of the top geoscience students from across Canada on an annual two-week adventure to Sudbury, Ontario, allowing them to put classroom theory into practice before entering the workforce,” McDonald said. “It has been highly successful with many S-IMEW alumni going on to have successful careers, something PDAC is proud to have played a role in.

“This workshop combined with our mentoring program and other initiatives are helping to attract some of the brightest and most talented young scientists to mineral exploration and mining,” McDonald said. “We are starting to expand our work in this area to include early career professionals and I am excited about this logical next step.”

For prominent positions

McDonald warns against expecting a prominent role in the industry overnight. Instead, she said it should be a long-term goal.

“I didn’t set out to become an executive director,” said McDonald, “but being involved in a single organization and industry over a length of time provided me with an advanced understanding of PDAC, its challenges and opportunities, the people involved in its operation, and the industry at large.”

McDonald explained that job advancement is about relationships. For an industry employing more than 630,000 workers in Canada alone, it’s incredible how often PDAC sees returning participants at events. Making connections and building professional networks is a valuable asset in any industry, especially the energy sectors.

For more about PDAC’s initiatives, visit the company’s website.

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