I was born/grew up in: Sidney, British Columbia
I now live in: North Vancouver, British Columbia
I completed my training/education at: Camosun College, Victoria BC – Environmental Technology Diploma
Royal Roads University, Victoria BC – Bachelor of Science
What I do at work
My work involves a wide range of activities that changes every day, which is great. One day I am out on a massive oil barge in the ocean running an oil spill response exercise. The next I might be meeting on a cruise ship to review their wastewater treatment systems. Or I could be participating in a working group to find ways to protect endangered Killer Whales around Vancouver Island. Some days I have a lot of meetings and have to write reports. I visit our shipyards, ferry terminals and especially out on the boats and barges whenever I can.
I use my science background, particularly in biology and chemistry, every day. My background helps me when I am reviewing technical reports such as site assessments, marine habitat surveys, water sampling, noise studies and air quality analysis.
I do a lot of problem solving in my work. For example, I often have to figure out how to carry out such things as ship repair and oil barge operations in the most safe, responsible, and efficient way, while remaining profitable. It is important for industries operating on our coasts to consider environmental and community impact of operations in their decisions. For example, when I make decisions, I try to consider all potential results. I consider where things can go wrong, or what can be improved. Then I work with our highly skilled operational team to plan for them.
A background in STEM helps to understand how industry may affect the communities and our ecologically sensitive B.C. coasts. For example, we now understand how sound produced from ships can affect sonar communication of endangered killer whales. We also understand how certain chemicals in paints may affect the ability of salmonids (salmon-like fish) to reproduce. I use this, and other knowledge, to limit the effects of our operations.
Being able to work as a team is critical in this field. When we are looking for solutions to problems, often the best ideas come from unexpected sources. This means it is important to create a diverse team environment where all feel comfortable to contribute and speak up.
My career path is
I always knew that I wanted to do something meaningful. I went to university where I started taking general science courses. I discovered that I was very interested in the Environmental fields and completed a BSc in environmental science and management. During my degree program, I took a coop job with the federal government. The pay wasn’t great, but gave me a diverse experience in the environmental field. I got to work on a variety of projects. This included sampling drainage from silver mines in the middle of the Yukon, and species surveys at various National Parks. I even worked on developing a waste management plan at a maximum-security jail! Those experiences inspired me to work in the environmental field.
Our ability to have a negative effect on the environment and communities is becoming more and more apparent these days. It can be discouraging at times, but I am happy with I chose this career path where I can have a real positive influence.
I am motivated by
My job is most rewarding when others get involved and excited about protecting the environment. This could be when our engineers are leading the way in battling climate change by building North America’s first high-powered electric tugboats. It might be when a pipefitter comes up with an innovative plan to use bubbles to keep salmon from being trapped in our dry docks. I love that my work is continually advancing environmental protection in real-time.
I also like talking with people in our communities. I especially enjoy working closely with our First Nations across the lower mainland and coasts. Their respect for the land and waters and communities, as well as the resiliency of their people and the kindness they offer to all is inspiring.
How I affect peoples’ lives
The best part of my job working in the Environment field of a private company is that I am actively working to protect our coasts and our communities. At the same time, I am helping the company achieve long-term success. This success includes supporting the economy, jobs, national defence, and transportation of essential goods to coastal communities. Seaspan Shipyards employs over 2,800 of my family, friends, neighbours and fellow B.C. West Coasters.
Outside of work I
My relaxing time is spent with my family, in nature, or out on the sports field playing baseball or soccer. Oh, and travelling and seeing the world is a must for me!
My advice to others
Research different careers and opportunities in the field. Talk to people in the specific fields that are of interest to you.
Professional Certifications and designations help, but so does hands on technical and operational experience. It all depends on type of work you want to do.
Find something that you look forward to doing when you get out of bed in the morning!