Lana Kirk attended Kalamalka Secondary School in Vernon and, having shown an aptitude for math and science, she initially thought she’d pursue science.
But, after earning a $20,000 entrance scholarship to Simon Fraser University in 1995, she chose a new path. Largely influenced by a class she took in Grade 11 and couple of cousins pursuing accounting at the time, she decided that finance would be a good fit.
While completing the final year of her bachelor’s of business administration in 2000, she was recruited by the firm of Price Waterhouse Cooper. Having worked with the company since graduating, she celebrates 19 years at PWC this September. She noted her career has progressed “naturally”. She earned the role of partner about seven years ago.
“When I first started at PWC, I did a variety of accounts: cereal companies, car dealerships, you name it, and I did a lot of stuff in the private company space. Fresh out of SFC, my introduction to mining came from one account I had where I’d go to Fraser Lake to work there at the mine for a couple weeks out of the year.”
Soon, around 2006, she switched disciplines to focused on mining exclusively. Kirk is currently working in PWC’s insurance group and audits financial statements of mining companies.
“I didn’t know anything about mining when I was growing up in Vernon, but mining is a pretty big piece of B.C.’s economy.”
It was her work in this industry that earned her her most recent accolade: she was named one of B.C.’s Most Influential Women in Finance (2019). Officially announced online March 7 to coincide with International Women’s Day, a reception was held in Vancouver to celebrate the women, including Kirk, who had earned recognition.
“When I made partner, I started a program for diversity and inclusion of resources — at the time it was called Women in Mining — and it was just acknowledging the fact that mining is a male-dominated industry and we wanted to create a program where we have events to talk about the challenges of diversity and inclusion, especially in the resource space, see what we can do to move the needle on having more women stay in mining and move into more senior roles.”
She holds events twice a year where women in the industry meet and talk about the industry. Though the focus is on women and the underlying issues women face within the mining industry (she cites unconscious bias as an example), she said that men are also strongly encouraged to attend.
“You can’t just have the women talking about the issue because, especially in a male-dominated field, if you don’t involve the men and they don’t help you in your effort, you’re not going to make much change.”
Her most recent event saw a 40 per cent male attendance, which, she noted is a record.
“I’ve also seen is more women moving into CFO roles than has happened in the past so there’s a larger group of women in those roles and I think that’s great to see because that’s a stepping stone. The stats still aren’t great but we’re making progress.”
Kirk also wishes to thank her parents Mike and Ev Kirk and her sisters Tina Ward and Lisa Schwartz for their support.
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