The Human Well has worked in an array of industries since its formation in 2003 and on numerous types of projects and people challenges but there are three categories of work where we seem to attract more referrals and developed a deep expertise.


There are various often certified techniques designed for moving a team toward collaborating and behaving somewhat in tandem but this is generally not what CEOs (or even some senior executives) want or perceive as helpful in respect to their specific roles. In this context “coaching” would be a misused.

Whilst we arrange for clients with our partners multiple candidate “coaching” programs Paul Pittman works on individual assignments related to specific topics. For example, an owner may want a sounding board, to explore options with their succession plan, someone who is not conflicted but has broad business experience.

No one knows an owner’s job better than them and they likely already know what they need to do but being able to explore alternatives and their ramifications helps build a more robust plan.

In other circumstances a board may want its CEO to adopt a certain reporting style or management approach, a CEO may want us to work with a manager whose leadership style has not kept pace with the growth of the business or to work with a high potential manager for future success in the executive suite.

Senior executives often want solutions; often alternatives to those that they have already identified, different ways in which others in different industries business have resolved similar problems. They want in-the-moment  practical advice and not structured bi-weekly meetings.

The Mining Industry

Junior mining companies in the transition to production company are most in need of strategic HR advice but least able to afford it. The intangible nature of guiding employee selection, behavior and performance is often considered expendable and besides how difficult can it be anyway? “It’s not rocket science” we have heard many CEOs say.

Well turns out they are right – it is not that difficult but it can take a while to figure out with potentially very costly missteps on the way than translate into delays and cost overruns which are the last thing patient shareholders want to see. 

The severe downturn experienced by the mining sector (2208 – 2014) delayed it having to face up to the “millennial effect” and the changes it brought to workplace culture and values. Other industries have a ten year head start. Traditionally mining has been a baby boomer industry and during times of tight labor the industry has turned to the semi-retired to fill management gaps. That will just not work this time around; pay expectations are too high, and multi-generational leadership skills and technology know how will be absent; tool kit prerequisites for leaders in the new workplace.

Attracting the right people to manage in a development environment, changing the way that the board provides oversight and governs, selecting the right skills with values that fit the new culture, managing in a multi-generational environment and executive pay are all areas in which we have been requested to assist organizations in the industry to accelerate the transition, better meet shareholder expectations and create value.

We deliver assistance in the form of projects on competitive pay and practice, board support by maintaining minutes, annual agendas and policies, by synchronizing the views of management and board through retained advisory or coaching, and selective board or senior management search.

The Human Well’s experience extends to international as well as domestic HR management and includes extensive support to both mining companies and resources sector professional service firms and partnerships.

A select list of past and present clients includes: Alcan, AngloGold Ashanti, BHP, Vale, Xstrata, TVI Pacific, Alloy Corp, Klondex, Northgate, Orvana, RNC Minerals, Royal Coal, Marengo, Aura, Sun, Sandspring, Besra, RCF, Aldridge, GT Gold, New Gold, Marathon Gold, Trevali, Redpath, Golder, exp, MMM and Geosoft.

Family and Owner Managed Businesses

Knowing when to hold ‘em and knowing when to fold ‘em as the old song goes sums up what it is like to own a businessOwners worry about the optimal time to exit, how and when that is going to occur. Most say that it is years away and they will know when the time has arrived – usually that means when the owner will be ready but not necessarily the business, at least not to the point where it can realize maximum value.

An owner should start to think about his businesses succession; sale to a third part or management or transfer to family members the day of the business is founded. We call that the “succession runway” and the longer the runway the more value can be add to attract a top sales price and owners could be forgiven that means adding more revenue and margin.  The way you do that may work for you but it will likely not appeal to a potential buyer who upon discovery during their soft due diligence will look for a workout deal, holdback or discounted price. 

The Human Well has been involved numerous merger and acquisition transactions around the world and we are asked by clients to bring that experience to their advantage in the form of pre-sale assessment of the readiness of the business to generate the most value.

Any buyer today can run through a checklist of areas of potential financial liability but the more savvy operator (or investor) will be looking for people problems that pose a bigger threat to value or cash flow and an concomitent price adjustment; the last thing sellers want to hear when headed for a stress free retirement.

We help our clients identify weaknesses in their culture, policy coverage, employee engagement, workforce management, pay practice, retention, and key talent weaknesses are likely to otherwise result in a request for some form of response from the seller

The more time we have to address these issues the more value will accrue to owners both at sale and during the remaining runway period. Knowing where a buyer is likely to look for threats to their anticipated return on their investment enables a seller to be better prepared. In fact our investment banking partner; Distinct Capital Partners will often work with us to be able to promote the strength in these typical areas of weakness, to make the business more attractive to potential buyers.

In other areas we have worked with owners to develop long term incentive plans to enable them compete for talent with publicly held competitors, refresh practices and policies to respond to a workforce in generational transition, a recruitment and incentive plan for adding a partner, building a sustainable workforce, structuring governance around advisory and family ownership boards.

A select list of past and present Family and owner managed clients includes: Longos, Bayshore, exp, Redpath, Axis Auto, Mindshape, Staalduinen, Seniority Investments, Levett, Klemer, Sustainalytics, MMM.