Primero Mining’s Tamara Brown on how to get ahead in gold

“People are scared to be brazen with people they don’t know. But it was an excellent skill I learned”

Career Path, a continuing CB series in which top innovators and entrepreneurs explain how they got there
Tamara Brown

As part of the team that first spotted the famed Pascua-lama gold deposits, Tamara Brown knows her way around a mine site. Here’s what Primero Mining’s vice-president of investor relations has learned about life in and out of the boardroom.


Motel maid (Perth, Australia)

“As soon as I became legal to work in Australia, I got a cleaning job. It was a nasty place. People don’t use roadside motels for the best things. It made me determined to get a degree so I could get out of there.”


Engineering Student; Curtin University, Australia

“I was young and cocky, and chose electrical engineering because it was the hardest discipline. There were five women out of 100 in our graduating year. And to be honest, it was a huge advantage. You’re top of mind. You’re often thought of for the next career opportunity or project.”


Professional engineer; World Geoscience Corp.

“In 1995, I went to Oman and led a team of 12 guys. But because I was a woman in the Middle East, I couldn’t be seen giving direction in public. Each morning, I’d have to tell my team what the tasks were for the day. I had to anticipate difficulties since my team wouldn’t be able to come back later and ask.”


Partner; Aberdeen Gould capital markets

“As a partner, I didn’t get a salary. You basically ate what you killed, so if you closed a deal, you took home money. I became very entrepreneurial, waking up early and making 50 calls before breakfast to generate leads and execute transactions. It was a very intense form of investment banking.”


Chartered Business Valuator; York University, Toronto

“It was the most hard-core education I’ve received. In Australia, you’d know if the windsurfers were going to show up to a meeting depending on which way the wind was blowing. Here, the culture is very much work-centric and rigorous. I was a deer in headlights.”


Investor Relations Consultant

“I had four kids who I wanted to be home with, so I started my own consultancy for junior mining firms. I’d have three or four contracts on the go, but I always knew one might fall off, so I was never shy to pick up the phone and ask for business. People are instinctively scared to be brazen with people they don’t know. But it was an excellent skill I learned.”


Director, Investor Relations; Iamgold Corp.

“We had thousands of employees at Iamgold, and yet Joe Conway [Iamgold’s former CEO] would know people’s husband’s names and whether their mother was sick. He taught me the importance of culture and creating an environment where people want to go to work every day.”


Vice-President, Investor Relations; Primero Mining Corp.

“When Joe left Iamgold after building it up to a $6-billion company, he asked if I wanted to do it all over again. It was risky, but I knew I was better suited to a startup than a multinational large cap where you’re merely managing, not growing. You have to identify where you add the best value.”