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Success Stories: Women In Engineering At Canadian Natural Share Their Career Experiences

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Canadian Natural’s diverse workforce has been a major key to its success.

As one of Canada’s largest independent oil and gas producers, Canadian Natural is committed to fostering a culture where students and new grads can thrive and develop into successful professionals. From field work to office placements, each role offers young professionals a unique challenge with plenty of opportunity to build valuable skills and foster long-lasting working relationships.

Want to learn more about where a career at Canadian Natural can take you? We connected with two talented engineers who shared their experiences in the field and their insights into the company culture.

Read on to see what they had to say!

Meet Kate and Tasha

Kate Finnigan
Exploitation Engineer
Canadian Natural

Kate and Tasha both work in Canadian Natural’s exploitation department. While they have a lot of different responsibilities throughout the day, their roles largely revolve around the acquisition and management of oil and gas reserves.

“I think of exploitation as ‘the big picture thinker,’” says Tasha. “We work on short and long term development plans of oil and gas properties, predicting performance and evaluating how much we believe properties are worth.”

Tasha Kingsbury
Exploitation Manager, Southern Plains
Canadian Natural

Tasha has been working in this department her entire career. She started out as an Exploitation Engineer where she sharpened her skills and familiarized herself with the team and their processes. These early experiences provided her a great platform, and eventually helped her advance to her current Exploitation Manager role. Today, she works with a team of engineers and a technologist to develop Canadian Natural’s Southern Alberta properties.

“As an engineer, I loved the process of digging into a problem, trying to figure out what was happening and working towards a solution,” says Tasha. “Since moving into management, I love identifying and shaping the strategy and direction that we want to take the group.”

Kate first began her career journey with Canadian Natural in a co-op placement. She worked for a year as a student, developing her skills and benefitting from the friendly and supportive work environment. These early experiences eventually helped her land a full-time position at the company – an opportunity she was more than willing to accept.

“Everyone from the engineers I worked with as a co-op student, to the field operators who trained me as an EIT (Engineer in Training), to the HR student advisor who hired me, were extremely helpful, positive, and made me feel welcome and appreciated from the start,” says Kate. “I knew it was a company with diverse career opportunities and one with the resources to help me develop the skills I need to be an effective engineer.”

As an Exploitation Engineer, Kate collaborates with a team of skilled professionals to come up with new locations to drill wells, while maintaining and optimizing production on the existing wells in her area. Even as a full-time employee, she continues to learn and develop her professional skills each and every day.

“I enjoy working as an engineer because of the challenge and variety in my job responsibilities,” says Kate. “There’s never a dull moment!”

A typical day

No two days are the same for Kate and Tasha, and they like it that way. Although their overall responsibilities are different, each day is action-packed with new problems to solve and tasks to tackle.

The role of an exploitation engineer involves a lot of economic analysis. It’s their responsibility to predict a wells performance and decide whether it is worth investing money into its development. It can be difficult to balance a budget and oversee an oil well at the same time – that is why it’s so important for them to work closely with their colleagues to come up with innovative ways to solve problems and achieve goals.

Kate usually starts her day by checking her email for messages from team members, managers, and field staff. Depending on what is a priority at the time, she says she usually spends at least part of the day working on oil well reserve evaluations and analyzing data to determine which company projects will yield the best profit.

“I’ve found that the best way to overcome challenges is to work as a team and share information and possible solutions,” says Kate. “Five minds working on a problem together are better than one!”

As a manager, Tasha’s role has evolved from her time as an Exploitation Engineer. Even though she is still in the same line of work, she coordinates things from a higher level. She says that most of her time is spent consulting with the various members of her team to discuss upcoming goals and responsibilities.

In a typical week, Tasha will meet with her fellow co-managers to discuss their projects and determine what they want to accomplish. She also communicates with the exploitation engineers in the area to keep them up-to-date on what is happening in the company, and defines their primary tasks and responsibilities. Lastly, she conducts one-on-one meetings with the exploitation engineers to go over new ideas and next steps.

“I think one of the things I love most about this position is the variety of what I do,” says Tasha.

Team culture

Every employee at Canadian Natural has benefitted from their supportive team culture at some point during their careers. Kate and Tasha are no egg-ception – in fact, this positive work environment played a huge role in their success so far.

The energy industry is a highly-technical field so naturally, an engineer’s work requires critical thinking and attention to detail every step of the way. Transitioning into a new role can be a challenge for any young professional, however, the support and encouragement Kate and Tasha received from their colleagues helped them overcome this hurdle.

“When I started, everyone I met was very friendly, knowledgeable, and willing to help and answer questions,” says Kate. “You can tell right from the start that people enjoy working here.”

“I think that’s why it’s so great that we work in teams,” adds Tasha. “We can discuss the facts and make suggestions on what the root cause is, or ideas on how to move forward.”

It’s not just the camaraderie that makes the team so effective. Each employee contributes through their unique background, knowledge, and skill-set – together, they are able to effectively approach and solve daily problems that arise on the job.

“We all have very distinct roles and responsibilities, but everyone has to pull their weight in order to successfully manage an area,” says Kate.

She continues: “I couldn’t evaluate whether or not new locations are viable if the geologist and geophysicist didn’t map out the reservoir to determine which places have the best chance of drilling successful wells. Similarly, we couldn’t keep the wells pumping effectively without the production engineer.”

“We all work together, all the time,” says Kate.

Advice for students and grads

Kate and Tasha have learned plenty from their time at Canadian Natural – not only on a professional level, but on a personal level as well.

One of the most enriching aspects about working in engineering is being able to see the direct impact of your work. For Kate, one of her most memorable moments from her time at Canadian Natural was the day the first oil property she evaluated was drilled.

“It was rewarding to know that our evaluation and presentation led to the construction of the pad, the drilling of the wells, and now the oil that is being pumped out of the ground,” says Kate. “It was also neat to think about all the jobs that were created because our pad was approved.”

Her advice for students and grads looking to hatch a career with Canadian Natural is to research the industry and get as much experience as possible. “There are many EITs who start in the field at Canadian Natural,” says Kate. “It’s one of the best ways to learn about the industry.”

For Tasha, it’s the flexibility and culture of innovation that have kept her engaged in her role and helped her achieve long-term success. The energy industry is fast-paced and always changing and the learning never stops at Canadian Natural – as the company evolves, so does she.

If you’re an aspiring engineer looking to get your start with Canadian Natural, Tasha highlights the importance of being a team player. Working effectively with your colleagues and being engaged and excited about your work is integral to your individual success as an engineer and the overall success of the company.

“I think what I’ve learned over my career in the industry is no matter what you are doing, it is important to have a positive attitude, learn whatever you can from the opportunity in front of you, and enjoy what you are doing,” says Tasha.

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Interested in hatching a career with Canadian Natural? Learn more about their opportunities here!

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