TORONTO—Larry Parnell, who spent the past four years in senior communications and public affairs positions at Ernst & Young, is joining Canadian mining company Barrick Gold as senior vice president of communications and investor relations.
Parnell says he was attracted to the position by two factors: first, the opportunity to report directly to the company’s president and chief executive officer Gregory Wilkins; and second, responsibility for a broad range of communications functions, including public relations, employee communications, investor relations and public affairs.
“I have been involved in a lot of investor relations stuff over the years, and I was not able to take advantage of that experience at Ernst & Young,” says Parnell.
The other intriguing aspect of the job, Parnell says, is that it includes a significant international component. Barrick Gold has operations in North and South America, Australia and East Africa. It is also dealing with some significant issues that require public relations support. “There are some serious permission-to-operate issues in places like Chile and Tanzania and removing natural resources,” Parnell says. “That’s always controversial.”
In Tanzania, for example, Barrick has invested more than $6 million in job training for Tanzanians; built a water pipeline from Lake Victoria to its mine to meet the water needs of 30,000 villagers along the route; and is funding a sustainable program of health promotion, disease prevention and improved community health.
“Larry brings a broad perspective that meets our needs as an international company where effective and open communications to all constituents is essential,” says Wilkins. “His leadership will considerably strengthen our existing investor relations and communications teams.”
Parnell will work with a team of four public relations professionals and five investor relations executives, as well as individuals in the company’s overseas operations who are responsible for local public and community relations. He says he will be looking for a senior IR executive, and assessing Barrick’s agency relationships.
Ken Kerrigan, meanwhile, continues to head Ernst & Young’s corporate communications function on an interim basis, while the company searches for a senior communications pro. That search is being headed by Don Spetner of Korn Ferry, and is expected to be concluded shortly.
Parnell joined E&Y as head of U.S. public relations in 1999 after serving as senior vice president and group manager at Ketchum. His previous experience includes positions with Gavin Anderson & Company and Manning Selvage & Lee, and on the corporate side with GTE Corporation and People’s Bank of Connecticut. He was promoted to director of global public relations in 2001 and earlier this year was given a new assignment to create a new public affairs function at the firm.