Women in Leadership
Savoy magazine, a publication that celebrates leaders in African American culture, recognized Verona Dorch, Peabody’s Executive Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Government Affairs and Corporate Secretary, pictured above, among the Most Influential Women in Corporate America for her accomplishments. Verona joined Peabody in 2015 and serves as co-chair of the company’s Inclusion and Diversity Advisory Board, an associate of the International Energy Agency Coal Industry Advisory Board, a faculty member for the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Executive Leadership Institute and a de Tocqueville Society member of United Way of Greater St. Louis. Verona has also been recognized as one of the Most Powerful Women in Business by Black Enterprise magazine.
Leadership and Development Programs
Peabody’s global Leadership Development Program for supervisors and managers works to enhance employees’ leadership capabilities in safety and continuous improvement. The four-month program is sponsored and facilitated by company leaders, and its cohorts are trained on skills and tools that can be applied immediately in the workplace. Through the course, employees have generated ideas and implemented projects resulting in meaningful continuous improvement initiatives and cost savings. A post-program review of graduates showed improvements in 11 of 13 of Peabody’s leadership competencies. A majority of participants feel more confident as leaders as a result of the program and report they continue to focus on their development and apply program concepts one year after graduation.
From Issue to Innovation
Jon Halverson, a Drill and Blast Supervisor at North Antelope Rochelle Mine (NARM), pictured above, was one of 76 employees to complete Peabody’s Leadership Development Program in 2016. During the course, Jon zeroed in on reducing coal loss from over-drilling, an investigation that began with a safety concern and resulted in safety improvements, enhanced communication, production efficiencies and dramatic cost savings.
After a drill tipped on its side at NARM, attention was drawn to the coal underneath. It was observed that the coal was uneven, requiring extensive maneuvering to drill it, and that significant coal loss was occurring.
“If coal is really rough, something is happening to cause it, and it usually means coal is getting wasted,” says Jon. This prompted him to review drilling practices and dragline bucket operations, and a snowball effect between the issues that contributed to coal loss.
At NARM, cast drills were over-drilling holes down into the top of coal. So when a cast shot was detonated, the top of coal would be fragmented or shot off. And because the highwall was too hard for a dragline to dig, the dragline bucket would be dragged across the top of coal, resulting in a fair share of coal getting thrown into the spoil pile instead of loaded into trains.
To solve the issue, top of coal needed to be made smooth, and through Jon’s investigation, changes have been made. Drillers now drill to an optimal design depth, and quality control tools include a map that designates drill holes and associated operator names to ensure accountability. Cast drilling patterns were also changed to eliminate over-drilling of holes and prevent hard digging for draglines. The results are evident: “If the top of coal is not shot and is left hard, then it is a lot smoother, and there is more coal to ship because it’s not in the spoil pile.”
At NARM, top of coal has improved immensely, coal recovery and dragline production have gone up, and most importantly, safety incidents have gone down. According to Jon, “People feel more comfortable doing their job. We are still working on it and continually trying to improve our results and maximize the benefits for the company. With a few minor changes and some good conversations, we are saving revenue now.”
“I wouldn’t have these opportunities to explore ideas and projects if it wasn’t for the Learning and Development Program I was involved in,” says Jon. “My team leader at the mine also went through the course and has been influential for me. It is very inspiring when a team leader wants me to succeed as well.”
Global Mentoring Program
Recognition and support of women in the mining industry is important to Peabody across its operations. In 2016, a pilot mentoring program was initiated globally to pair women early in their career with a seasoned male or female leader. The two embark on a mutually beneficial relationship where the mentee continues to grow in her leadership skills and work toward specific development goals, while the mentor is able to hone skills and share knowledge. Mentees also participate in networking and knowledge-share activities as a group. The program is part of Peabody’s development philosophy and serves as a cost-effective development tool and an organizational culture enhancer. In Australia, it will be rolled out to employees who completed the platform’s Graduate Program.
Lina Young, Senior Vice President of Peabody Business Services and Chief Information Officer, pictured above, was paired in two mentoring relationships, one with Katherine Gullic, Accounting Manager at Wildcat Hills Mine in Illinois. While the geography between the two is great, mentoring has given Lina a closer view of the challenges and opportunities individuals are presented with when working in Peabody’s regions. “The program provides time to build a relationship,” says Lina. “Valuable new connections are being made with the next generation of Peabody leaders in corporate and in the regions.”
For Katherine, having a mentor grants opportunity to “build relationships within the company, outside of individuals you see on a daily basis,” which she views as important. “I also work at a site where the majority of employees are male,” she said, “so the program has provided me with a female mentor who understands my perspective.”