In a career spanning seven short years so far, Andree St-Germain has already helped to tip the gender balance at the top tiers of two male-dominated industries: investment banking and mining. Today, as CFO of Golden Queen Mining Co. Ltd., she’s one of the very few female C-suite executives in Canada, and here she shares the story behind her meteoric rise and explains the approach she’s taking with her company’s latest big project, the Soledad Mountain project.
Advantage: What sparked your interest in mining?
Andree St-Germain: I have always had an interest in the natural sciences, and mining is a very important industry in Québec, where I am from. As I learned more about the industry through the capital markets, I developed an interest in both the engineering and operating aspects of mining.
The mining industry is also a very small community in Canada, and I had the opportunity to meet some very interesting people. There is one thing in common among people who work in this industry: we are all very passionate about what we do.
How did you land the opportunity at Golden Queen Mining?
The timing couldn’t have been more perfect when the opportunity arose in September of 2013. Golden Queen Mining has been around since 1985 and working on its Soledad Mountain project for almost 30 years. I had worked with the CEO for over a year, as he was one of our clients at Dundee. I had a lot of respect for him as well as the board of directors. I truly believed in the project and had already been on-site; I knew I could work well with the team. The company presented me with a fabulous opportunity. It was a difficult decision to leave my position as vice president of mining investment banking at Dundee and transition to the industry side, but I was excited by the new challenge.
What was the biggest adaptation you faced in your shift from the capital markets to Golden Queen Mining?
As an investment banker, you learn more about the financial and economic aspects of the mining industry in general and also about various mining companies. Shifting the focus to one company and one project with a specific end-goal means that there is an increased focus on corporate governance and how to run a public company. Directing the finances of a public company also means increased responsibilities. However, I am fortunate that the company has built a strong team and board to move our project forward.
Earns a bachelor’s in business from Université du Québec à Montréal
Gets an international MBA with a focus on international business and finance from the Schulich School of Business at York University
Lands a position as an associate in the mining investment banking department of Dundee Capital Markets
Is promoted to VP of mining investment banking at Dundee Capital Markets
Is recruited by Golden Queen Mining to serve as VP of finance and CFO
What is your involvement with the Soledad Mountain project?
There are three key aspects to my role: financial, strategic, and public. I provide financial leadership and operational support, prepare budgets, oversee the finance functions of the company, and develop and maintain systems and controls to safeguard our financial assets. I also oversee the preparation of our financial statements and reports to ensure regulatory compliance.
On the strategic side, I directly support the company on financial and tactical matters related to our business plan and work to identify funding opportunities. On the public side, I initiate and foster capital-market and banking relationships. I also organize and participate in road shows and analyst meetings and build relationships with shareholders and investors.
You’re the only woman on Golden Queen Mining’s list of executives and directors. In a male-dominated industry such as mining, how has being a woman impacted your career?
Even in capital markets and investment banking, there are still not many women, but the numbers are improving—in the mining industry as well.
I am privileged to have worked in organizations that believe in equality and merit, and I never felt that I was treated differently because I am a woman.
In general, people see me as an equal and find it refreshing to have a different way of thinking at the table. The industry still needs to foster and groom more women to eventually take on executive and board positions. It all starts with inspiring others to reach for what is possible. I was fortunate to find mentors that recognized my potential and wanted to help me develop and achieve my goals.
What are your future ambitions at Golden Queen?
We’ll spend the next 18 months building the Soledad Mountain project, ultimately producing gold and silver. My focus is to create a success story: for the Soledad Mountain project to be the first new gold and silver mine taken to production in California since 1996. This will be a great achievement for our team.