By Liz Warren-Pederson


The Eller Executive Education team travelled to Chile this month in service of client BHP Billiton, a global resources company with a mining operation near Antofagasta. In four sessions offered to a total of 120 mining supervisors and superintendents, the team delivered a curriculum focused on leadership principles. The mining supervisors will complete leadership projects and receive individual coaching over the coming months, and then will conclude the program with two more sessions in December.

Stephen Gilliland, Head of the Management and Organizations Department and Associate Dean of Executive Education, was among the teaching team on the project. He – along with Cindi Gilliland and Diza Sauers – conducted classes for two groups of Spanish-speaking mining superintendents in English, with simultaneous translation.

“There are so many challenges when delivering a program like this, from language to culture to logistics – and there is no Kinkos around the corner to make copies,” Gilliland said.  “However, the faculty team was able to roll with the challenges, revise material in their hotel rooms in the evenings between sessions, and deliver content that was theoretically grounded, relevant to the industry, and responsive to their current leadership needs.”

Cindi Gilliland delivered the most popular session of the program on leveraging diversity. She had participants break into different generational groups, discuss the cultural factors that shaped their generation, and then share tips for the other generations on how best to work with them. “It was fun and interesting to learn about what workforce diversity means in Chile and to see the participants generate ideas for leveraging difference more effectively,” she said. “For example, the different generations enjoyed having a chance to work in teams to come up with ways to interact more effectively with each other and to maximize each others’ strengths.”

In the second week, Art Padilla, Special Assistant to the Dean, retired banking executive and alumnus Marcos Garay, and second-year MBA Jesus Gomez, taught mining supervisors in Spanish.

“I taught leadership communications, motivation, and generating results to two groups of BHP Billiton leaders, each consisting of 30 first-line supervisors in various Chilean mining assets,” Gomez said.

Gomez holds an undergraduate degree in education from the UA, as well as a master’s in educational psychology from the University of Virginia. His background, and his fluency in Spanish, made him a natural for teaching in Eller’s Economic Development program aimed at South Tucson business owners. Gilliland tapped him for the Chile program after hearing about his success teaching in that program.

“Teaching as part of the Eller Executive Education program has given me the opportunity to share my over 26 years of leadership and management experience in the U.S. Army with non-defense business leaders,” Gomez said. “Using the solid Eller MBA education I have received and contextualizing it with real world experience gives me a unique chance to connect with students in my native Spanish.”

Find out more about the BHP Billiton sessions in Gilliland’s leadership blog, where he shares his observations on work-life balance.

Top photo by Jesus Gomez.