There are many ways one can give back to your community and make an impact, and Terri Steeves, Vice-President of Canada Gas Operations, is checking off all the boxes.
Not only is she a mother, engineer, inspiring leader and strong advocate for women and students in engineering – now, she is also a recipient of the Schulich Alumni Leadership Excellence Award from her alma mater the University of Calgary. She looks back on her time at the university as the catalyst of where her leadership experience took flight.
“The Schulich School of Engineering has evolved and innovated to create a space for students to learn and develop skills to become future leaders, while also serving as an important talent pipeline for our industry in Alberta and beyond,” reflects Terri. “I feel privileged to have attended the University. In fact, I began my own leadership journey as Electrical Engineering Student President.”
It was no surprise when others heard Terri was nominated for this award, although for Terri it was a bit of a shock. The award recognizes alumni who demonstrate excellence in their profession and community endeavours during their career, and inspire others with their leadership, innovation and knowledge.
Vice-President of Canada Gas Operations
Terri leads the pack as a mentor and coach for young professionals through many organizations, including the University of Calgary, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA), Construction Owners Association of Alberta, United Way and TC Energy. As a volunteer with APEGA, she provides guidance as a member of council, a mentor to engineering students and a science presenter in local schools.
When it comes to safety, it’s not only a core value at TC Energy but something Terri cares personally about.
“What I’ve learned as a leader, is that when it comes to safety, it all comes down to the connection you make with people,” shares Terri. “In our Canada Gas Field Operations, we have this amazing sense of family, and family always looks out for one another. You understand your family’s ‘why’ and what matters to them. That understanding helps drive situational awareness and other safety aspects, whether at home or at work, to protect your family.”
Despite studying Electrical Engineering, Terri is not your typical engineer. Her passion is people. Early in her career, Terri was given feedback that her desire to connect with people was perhaps seen as “inefficient,” but she pressed forward, developing relationships and recognizing that it’s important that everyone brings their differences to the table.
It wasn’t a straight road that led to this successful career as a woman, engineer and leader.
“Going through uncomfortable experiences helps shape and define who you are, it’s what motivates you, and how you learn what you don’t want to do. You’ll discover something new about yourself in every experience,” shares Terri.
“Many years ago, I was in a job that I felt really unhappy and unmotivated in, and I could not figure out why,” remembers Terri. “It took a while, but I realized that there’s a right job for everyone. If you see someone motivated and excelling at their job, that doesn’t mean that same job is right for you – and that’s okay.”
Through her experience, Terri found her passion – project management. With perseverance she moved forward – quite literally knocking on doors until she found an executive, any executive, who would talk to her about how to get a job as a project manager, and she pursued it relentlessly.
This tenacity, combined with her passion for inclusion and diversity and her desire to make a meaningful difference, are what make her the relatable, inspiring leader she is, and a deserving candidate for this award.
Read more about The 2020 Schulich Alumni Award recipients