As the CFO of mining technology company MineSense, Lisa Payne, CPA, CGA, is no stranger to advancing cutting-edge concepts. “Our company develops smart technologies for the mining industry – specifically metallic mines – that enable the mine operator to ‘see’ the quality of the ore with every shovelful of rock as it being extracted from the mine site,” she says.
MineSense has developed smart sensors that can be installed onto mining equipment, including the buckets of excavators, that use data analytics to inform the mine operator of the ore concentration as material is dug out of the earth. Essentially, the technology allows mining companies to see the value of material as it is being mined as opposed to after it has undergone a costly and resource-intensive refining process. Because MineSense technology allows mines to more effectively sort valuable ore from waste as it is mined, it increases productivity and reduces environmental impacts associated with traditional mining.
We recently chatted with Lisa about how she drives success at MineSense – which was recently named to the 2019 Global Cleantech 100 in recognition of its sustainable technology innovation – and in her own career.
How did the CPA designation equip you to succeed in your current role?
“My CPA designation is fundamental to my role as CFO. Over the years, I have held a multitude of executive roles including leadership, business development, and operations. Consistently, I rely on my professional designation to help me recognize problems and find resolutions, as well as help organizations develop their business models so they can monetize the value of their products.”
How would you describe your career as a CPA? How does it go against the stereotype some people hold of accountants (for example, boring, drab, or conventional)?
“I really enjoy people and business development. As CFO, I am continually promoting the company to investors, funders, employees and other potential stakeholders. As a member of the tech industry, building high growth companies takes a lot of energy, drive, and commitment. There is nothing boring or conventional about this.”
You were recognized by BCBusiness as one of the province’s most influential women in the STEM fields in 2018, and as one of the top 10 women in technology by Business in Vancouver in 2013. What drives you to achieve excellence in your field?
“It’s more fun to be fully engaged and present in the things you do. Its easier to look forward to each day and far more rewarding when you put yourself in a position to make a difference. For me, I draw energy through helping people. By striving for excellence, I have found that my return is tenfold – strong relationships, a fulfilling career, and a healthier self.”
How would you describe your leadership style?
“Rather than pontificate on my leadership style, I asked this question to my teammates. They described my leadership style as one who hires capable people and trusts them to do their jobs well. My tendency is to lead through mentorship; not through micro-management. Leaders can use their authority to get things done but this has limited effectiveness. If I can inspire self-motivation, this leads to outstanding performance. By no means am I a perfect leader, so I use reflection and listening skills to continually seek ways to improve.”
Looking back to the start of your career, what advice would you give to a young woman thinking of pursing a career in STEM?
“I encourage women to pursue a career in STEM. My daughter is a software developer and loves her career. There are excellent career opportunities working alongside very interesting and intelligent people who are creating ground-breaking technologies that improve our quality of life. Who wouldn’t want to be a participant in positively changing the world? My advice to women would be to think about where you want to be in five years and then create your plan to get there.”
As a final thought, Lisa says, “Don’t be afraid to make decisions; remember that no decision is a decision without control. Living one day at a time is fine when you need to catch your breath, but long-range planning opens opportunities for growth.”
Interested in learning more about Lisa and MineSense’s success in disrupting the mining industry with tech? Check out our counterpart post on CPABC Industry Update.