CEO of Rio Tinto has Intimate Discussion with Students

As mentioned in “Impressed by Speakers at Fuqua,” I really enjoy meeting with executives who come to campus. Today, we had a special speaker. Tom Albanese is the CEO of Rio Tinto – the second largest mining company in the world (behind BHP Billiton). Mr. Albanese met with approximately 20 MMS students for a roundtable discussion.

It’s incredibly rare for someone like Mr. Albanese to take the time out of his day to speak with students. Even though I’m not interested in working at Rio Tinto or in the mining industry, conversing with the innovator of such a large corporation is a worthwhile experience for anyone.

I read the papers every day, so I had seen Mr. Albanese’s name before and read about Rio Tinto. If you want to be successful in interviews and at your job, it’s important to keep up with the news. Even though my father and older brother have engineering backgrounds, I don’t know anything about the subject. Nevertheless, I was able to carry on a meaningful discussion with Mr. Albanese because I knew his company’s strategy and the current issues it faces.

Mr. Albanese talked about the African region and why that is such a hotspot for mining. In addition, he discussed the political challenges his firm faces globally.

I asked Mr. Albanese about his company’s technology initiatives, and he told us Rio Tinto has introduced a “transformer-looking” mining machine, and it doesn’t need a driver to operate! I also asked about his views on our nation’s infrastructure, and he stressed the fact that our infrastructure is incredibly old and outdated, and the U.S. needs to invest 15 – 20 years on such projects. Four years (a president’s term), is not enough.

Overall, the experience was one of the highlights of my time as a Duke graduate student. As I mentioned, I didn’t go into the meeting with Mr. Albanese looking for a job, but I still gained great respect for Rio Tinto and its CEO.