If you can imagine Karina Briño, president and CEO of the Mining Association of BC (MABC), perusing Pablo Neruda’s love poems in the shadow of towering walls of books as a young student at the University of British Columbia, then you will begin to appreciate the unique composition of her success. How did a socially minded student of Spanish literature who nursed a dream of eradicating poverty become the head of one of B.C.’s oldest associations in an industry that has regularly grossed annual revenues of more than $8 billion?
“I’m a risk-taker,” Briño said. “I appreciate challenges; I don’t do boring very well.” That’s part of it. Mining is a volatile industry that demands brave leaders and sure-footed decision-makers who are not afraid of the unknown. But to reduce Briño to a thrill-seeker discounts her most significant characteristics.
In fact, her experiences before taking the helm at MABC were as varied as the mineral deposits that mark B.C. as one of the world’s major mining regions. Picture Briño as a child in Chile as she walked, holding her father’s hand, through rubble-strewn streets in the aftermath of a powerful earthquake.
“Dad was one of the first ones to get out on the street and start doing assessments of how people were doing, who needed what, organizing everyone to make sure that people were safe,” she said.
The experience, and the memory of her father’s commitment to their community, affected her deeply and stayed with her after she moved to Canada with her family at age 14.
“I initiated my career working in social services, working with people in need, with people in distress, in hardship situations, always trying to figure out what I could do to help,” she said. “I think that’s what really brought me to where I am today.”
She started her career in social work, first for the Ministry of Social Services and then the Ministry of Children and Family Development. In 2004, she was singled out for her capacity to engage with First Nations and community leaders, and was invited to join the Ministry of Energy and Mines as director of policy. While there she rose to assistant deputy minister.
MABC invited her to become the association’s leader in 2012. In addition to her duties, Briño is a member of the Standards Council of Canada’s Canadian Advisory Committee on Social Responsibility. She also chairs the policy committee for the Multilingual Orientation Service Association for Immigrant Communities, an advocacy group that helps immigrants and refugees integrate into Canadian society. Briño helped develop the organization’s strategic plan for supporting Syrian refugees upon their arrival in Vancouver.
Briño’s work experience and community involvement say as much about her as they do about the mining culture in B.C. “I strongly support the efforts of the industry to ensure we are true to our commitments to social responsibility,” she said.
For Briño, that responsibility extends to First Nations groups and to women, a group traditionally deeply under-represented in the sector.
“Increasing the participation of aboriginal peoples in the sector on an operational level is the right thing to do,” she said.
She’s equally passionate about the role of women in mining. “We need to not only provide those opportunities for women, we need to create them. You see more women in science programs, in technology programs, participating in areas of study that used to be traditionally male-dominated.”
Join us March 8th when Business in Vancouver celebrates the 17th annual Influential Women in Business Awards at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel. For further information or to register for the event visit the events page at www.biv.com/events/iwib.