Few business managers are tested to the extreme that Laurence Golborne was when, as Secretary of Mining of Chile, he orchestrated the rescue of the 33 miners who were trapped in a cave-in nearly half a mile underground. The Chilean mining accident story, now the subject of a major motion picture, is not only thrilling and uplifting but offers unparalleled lessons in successful crisis management and project leadership.
With 33 miners' lives in the balance, implored by their families to "give us strength," and with critical stakeholders that included the Chilean government and 20 companies worldwide, Golborne successfully directed the technically complex, 69-day rescue efforts with discipline, efficiency and transparency — all while under the scrutiny of 1400 reporters and a captivated, worldwide audience.
In a case study about the handling of the disaster, MIT Sloan Management Review outlined twelve "Principles for Leadership Decisions During A Crisis" based on Golborne's actions. With a strong foundation in management, he proactively took responsibility for the crisis resolution, assembled and focused a team of qualified experts, and created strategies not only for efficient, technical decision-making but for compassionate social support for the families, and for open, effective media communications.
While Golborne gives credit to the strength and faith of the trapped men, as well as to the many people involved in the effort, he is acknowledged to have been the prime mover of the miners' safe return. An estimated 1 billion people watched "Los 33" emerge from deep in the Earth — it was a triumph of leadership and management as well as of the human spirit.
Golborne sits on the boards of several major South American companies. In addition to Secretary of Mining, he was Secretary of Public Works, and Secretary of Energy. Prior to his time in public service, he was CEO of the South American retailer Cencosud, where he led the company's expansion from local enterprise to a conglomerate operating in five countries. Golborne completed both the Stanford University Executive Program and the CEO Management Program at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and holds an industrial civil engineering degree.
The speech, supported by an original PowerPoint presentation, videos and audios, tells the story of the rescue of 33 miners trapped in the mine San José in 2010, from the perspective of one of the main protagonists. The Minister Laurence Golborne was the person in charge of leading the all process on field, covering the technical, human, social and media aspects of the crisis that culminated with extraordinary success. The approach can be narrative only, or can be focus on aspects of leadership and crisis management needed to organize and succeed in a complex task that involves different dimensions. The story has inspired several movies, the latest will be released in the last quarter of 2015, starring Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Rodrigo Santoro and other famous Hollywood’s actors. The speech can be in Spanish or English.
A Leadership Moment: An interview | Knowledge@Wharton
Michael Useem interviews Chilean Mining Minister Laurence Golborne
One year after the Chilean mine rescue, Minister Laurence Golborne reflects on leadership under pressure