I was born/grew up in: I was born in Victoria, B.C., Canada and grew up in the Cowichan Valley. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and is located on the West coast of Canada on Vancouver Island.
I now live in: Victoria, B.C.
What I do at work
At Seaspan, I work with our trade employees (e.g., welders, electricians, painters, labourers and metal fabricators), and project managers. My job is to prevent or reduce the negative effects on the environmental as we build or refit ships and submarines. We talk about the work that needs to be done on the vessels. This includes such things as welding, painting, sandblasting, and transferring fuels. Then we make a plan to prevent spills and other impacts on the environment. I will often rely on my science background to figure out what the risks from each activity are. For example, I consider the chemical compositions of products, whether there are sensitive species in nearby ecosystems, and the relevant water quality guidelines. Our biggest concerns often involve impacts to marine waterways and/or freshwater systems nearby. I often face many open-ended problems, meaning there is no single ‘correct’ solution.
In addition to operational tasks, I also manage several environmental programs in the shipyard. These programs focus on reducing spills, waste, and energy use. They also aim to minimize impacts to wildlife and to the surrounding community (e.g. light and noise). To do this, I work with many different people. This could include government, community and environmental compliance organizations. I lead two committees, provide training to employees, and discuss concerns with people living nearby. I also help any injured wildlife onsite.
Environmental law plays a big role in my position. I know which regulations apply to our site and make sure we follow them. I also assist Seaspan in maintaining our environmental certifications. This includes our ISO 14001 and Green Marine certification. These certifications are important because without them we would have difficulty meeting customer and government requirements. This could have a negative effect on our business.
My career path is
When I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I wasn’t ready to commit to a degree but felt pressure to choose a career. I found the Environmental Technology Program at Camosun College. I liked that it was a three-year diploma with co-op work terms. I was interested in learning more about the environment and this program offered courses in biology, geography, chemistry, ecology, and computing. The co-op part provided hands-on experience. I also liked that at the end of the program, I had different choices for a career and could even transfer to a university to get a degree.
While at Camosun, I completed two work terms. For the first one, I was at a vessel repair facility with the Department of National Defence (DND). For my second work term, I was installing seismic monitoring stations with Natural Resources Canada. I learned a lot about what I like in a job and gained some great contacts.
I completed my diploma and started a Bachelor of Science in the Environmental Science at Royal Roads University. Once I graduated, I joined DND as an Environmental Technologist. After working at DND for a few years, I joined Seaspan as Victoria Shipyard’s Environmental Coordinator.
I am motivated by
I like working with open-ended problems. I like being able to explore different solutions and find something that works for both my company and the environment. I find it rewarding when I’m able to find a solution that reduces our impacts on the environment, saves money, and supports other departments in the shipyard.
I enjoy the variety in my work too. I get to work both outside and in an office with some projects that have short deadlines, while others have no deadlines at all. I am self-motivated and I like setting goals and achieving them. I get excited when I think about the future, planning for what I want our environmental programs to look like and how we can get there.
How I affect peoples’ lives
My position focuses on preventing or reducing negative environmental impacts from activities performed within the shipyard. The aim is to protect nearby waterways, land, and air from pollution. We want the wildlife, resources, and habitats to be around for future generations. I find this position fulfilling because the work I do has a positive impact on the environment.
Outside of work I
I enjoy being outdoors and like to go hiking, camping, and backpacking. I also like to go for walks with my dog Zelda. I’m a Scouts Leader with a local group in Victoria, BC.
My advice to others
It’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do when you finish high school. Try finding something broad that you’re interested in, like environmental science. You can always specialize once you learn more about what you’re interested in and what careers are available.
Science and math can be intimidating, but don’t let that deter you. I struggled with math in high school. I was able to work through this in college by getting extra help and working hard. Many colleges and universities have help centers, where teachers are available to help you outside of class hours.