Inspirational Pioneers: Rio Tinto Retirees Give Back to the Community

Gérard Dufour lors d'un séjour au Burkina Faso en 2016.

Évelyne Bouchard, Gérard Dufour and Johann Ellefsen worked for Rio Tinto and formerly Alcan for over 35 years each. In 2015, they founded the 3S&E Network, which now comprises 32 members, who devote their expertise, skills and time to helping national and international organisations better integrate and manage HSE dimensions within their operations.

The three founders had rewarding careers at Rio Tinto during which they crossed paths at various points. “Our employer invested a lot in developing people’s skills,” said Gérard Dufour, President of the 3S&E Network, and Évelyne Bouchard, Director of Communications & Media of the 3S&E Network. “Through our assignments, we had many opportunities to gain experience and knowledge. We now wish to share what we’ve learned.”

Johann Ellefsen and Évelyne Bouchard met at the Isle Maligne plant in the early 1980s. Ms. Bouchard started out in human resources and had the opportunity to work in various capacities at different facilities and on multiple projects. Toward the end of her career, she transitioned to a leadership development position at head office.

Mr. Ellefsen, for his part, started his career in public affairs before joining the Isle Maligne plant, where he developed an interest for the environment and eventually took on the role of Health, Safety and Environment Auditor. His work brought him to foreign countries such as South Africa.

Gérard Dufour worked in operations in Shawinigan and at Arvida Works, the Isle Maligne plant, Vaudreuil Works and Laterrière Works before taking up a position in safety (AS&C). He moved up the ranks to eventually become Vice President, Health Safety and Environment at Rio Tinto. Toward the end of his career, he established a program with Ms. Bouchard that helped Rio Tinto plant managers worldwide develop their health and safety leadership skills.

In February 2015, while Ms. Bouchard was preparing to retire, Mr. Ellefsen, who took the initial steps to launch the 3S&E Network, said aloud what others were thinking.

My idea was to pay it forward by sharing the knowledge we had received,” explained Ellefsen, Business Development Director. “It’s also a way to reconnect and work with our former colleagues. It’s easy to forget this, but working together brings us closer to one another.”

This was all it took to rally the other members and create, in September of the same year, the 3S&E Network, a group of professionals and managers in health, safety, society and environment (HSSE) as well as in quality and safety.

“Being a network, we’re prepared to meet any needs that arise,” said Ellefson, referring to the safety component, which became particularly important when the 3S&E Network was called upon for a project in Haiti.

“Because of our professional backgrounds, we always know someone who knows someone else who is an expert in the field where services are needed,” said Dufour.

“The idea is to equip small organisations that would otherwise be unable to afford the services of experienced consultants,” said Bouchard. “Our approach involves helping them take charge by transferring knowledge and skills.”

Since it was created in 2015, the 3S&E Network has contributed to a dozen projects, including several in Africa, in collaboration with the Centre for International Studies and Cooperation (CECI). “The work we did with CECI in Burkina Faso focused on medium-term HSSE capacity development among the mining companies in the Alliance des Fournisseurs Burkinabè de Biens et Services Miniers,” said Dufour. “The goal of this initiative was to help these companies perform better and seize more opportunities in the extractives sector by creating jobs for young people and women all while protecting workers, communities and the environment.”


At the regional level, Groupe Coderr has benefited from the Network’s expertise in a workplace improvement project in the halocarbon sector; the company will integrate what it has learned into a new plant that will begin operations in 2023.

The 3S&E Network continues its involvement in various projects. These efforts give its members great satisfaction. To improve its service offering, the Network is always interested in connecting with new members.