June 23 marks International Women in Engineering Day (INWED) – a day that celebrates the remarkable achievements of women engineers around the world and plays a vital role in encouraging young women and girls to pursue careers in engineering. We recognize INWED as part of our commitment to an inclusive and diverse workforce.
To celebrate INWED, we got to know some of the extraordinary women engineers that have worked alongside each other on the Elk River Pipeline project management team - Adriana Hubert, Hazel Plana, Joanne Powell and Kimmy Guo. These four women are all engineers by trade and have held roles within the project management team from Manager to Field Engineer-in-Training (EIT). They are all inspiring change, challenging gender roles and helping build towards a brighter future.
Joanne is a project engineer on the Elk River Pipeline project management team and is responsible for the management of engineering and design for the construction of the project. She holds an Environmental Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia.
Have you encountered any challenges with being a woman in engineering?
The biggest challenge to me is the inherent bias that still exists. I knew going into engineering that I would be a minority. In my graduating class, women were less than 25 per cent of the population, so I always knew I was going to have to work just as hard, if not harder, to move up and get where I wanted to go. But that never deterred me from pursuing engineering.
How has your experience on the Elk River project team differed from other past experiences?
I think it’s the caring nature of this project that really sets it apart. We work towards having a cohesive project where we all put our best foot forward and do the work, but also care about each other. We always check in on each other and ask how everyone’s doing, including the construction team and extended project management teams. That’s something I haven’t really experienced before.
Joanne also noted that although they are the face of the project management team, there are numerous other women and male champions that stand behind them that are equally as deserving of recognition. “Although we are the face of the team, we’re supported by everyone.”
“As women in engineering, I think we all understand the hurdles we face working in the energy industry, but we are compassionate towards each other and always work to help and support each other. If one of us rises, we all rise.” – Joanne Powell, Project Engineer
Hazel started out at TC Energy almost 15 years ago as an engineering intern after completing her Civil Engineering degree. She held the role of project manager for the Elk River pipeline project for about one year before recently taking on a new challenge in Canada Gas.
What is it like being a woman in engineering?
Honestly, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s normal. I met three of my best friends through engineering and they are all women, so it hasn’t necessarily felt any different. But it also makes me feel really proud. The industry is changing, and it makes me feel proud to be at the onset of all of the discussions about equality and breaking the bias.
What are you most proud of about the Elk River project team?
I think what I’m most proud of is how much the team cares about the people that they work with and the work that they do. We had a very successful first season of construction and the team continues to work hard to successfully complete season two as well. I think those accomplishments are really attributed to the competency of the team and how much they care about what they do.
“Everybody gains experience one day at a time, regardless of who you are. Don’t ever feel like you need to be in a certain place at a certain time; you are on your own path.” – Hazel Plana, Project Manager
Adriana is one of the managers of the Pipeline Projects in Implementation group in Canada Gas, managing a team of 20 along with a large portfolio of gas pipeline capital projects under construction in Canada. She has both a degree in Industrial Engineering and Applied Petroleum Engineering Technology.
What has been the most challenging thing about being a woman engineer?
I have been very fortunate in my career to be surrounded by welcoming and respectful peers and leaders that have always made me feel included and valued. One of the challenges I faced earlier in my career was being the only woman in a team. This drove me to work harder to demonstrate my skills and overcome any cultural and gender biases. Today that is not the case; the industry has evolved, and it has shifted in a way that it is more receptive to and inclusive of women engineers.
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a team?
We have been able to build a strong, psychologically safe team that has a lot of confidence in each other. I am proud to have created an environment that has empowered people to trust each other and to trust me as their leader. I trust them completely.
“Being able to break outdated stereotypes and inspire the next generation of young women engineers so they can become industry leaders and role models to other women is really fulfilling.” – Adriana Hubert, Manager
Kimmy pursued a Chemical Engineering degree at the University of Alberta before joining TC Energy almost two years ago. She is currently a Field Engineer-in-Training (EIT) on the Elk River Pipeline project management team based out of Drayton Valley, AB.
What is it like to be a woman in engineering?
I never really thought about being a woman in engineering as “different” or “hard” because there are a lot more women becoming engineers these days. I do think it is less of a challenging time as the industry is trending in the right direction and we are getting more and more support from both men and women engineers. There are some challenging times for sure as it can sometimes be intimidating to work in a more male-dominated field. But I do think, as women, we have our own unique perspectives that we can introduce to the field.
What stands out to you about the Elk River team?
Something we’ve done really well in our team is that we are really collaborative. Not only within our project management team but also with our construction team. We have a really good culture where we embrace everybody’s opinion and we respect each other. And that has worked really great in our favour and has really helped us to achieve some of the big milestones on our project.
“The more women that go into engineering, the closer we get to breaking the bias and really introducing diversity into the field of engineering. Through hard work and dedication, we can all achieve anything we set our minds to.” – Kimmy Guo, Field EIT
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