Fresh evidence (did we actually need any?) that resources offer vibrant, responsible, leading-edge opportunities for women
What happens when you bring professional women from a broad range of British Columbia activities together, for the first time, around the common cause of building a shared vision for our thriving natural-resource society?
That is not the start of a modern or new-age riddle.
In fact, a group of some 200 current and future female leaders from across the resource economy did precisely this on May 4 at the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s downtown campus.
Breaking through the glass ceiling in resources is important because resource workers in British Columbia are among the highest earners, and women increasingly want to be part of this story.
Resource Works partnered with SheTalks Global to produce SheTalks Resources, a day-long program of speakers and ideas under the SheTalks umbrella. It is a unique formula of information sharing and networking that has a social dimension rarely found at business-oriented gatherings.
Speakers and ideas
Fifteen women from a broad range of occupations took the podium in succession.
The speakers were drawn from executive suites, the trades, entrepreneurship, conservation, administration, and professions.
They were the faces and voices of safety and responsibility – the factors that for the Canadian public today are paramount when it comes to natural resource extraction and use. For without credible assurances that our activities in resources are done responsibly, it will become increasingly challenging to deliver the vast economic benefits that have historically flowed from the sector.
Each speaker was allotted eight minutes to share a life story connected to her chosen path in resources.
What the audience heard was women from across society talking about what they believed to be the keys to their success. For those in the audience it was a moment to affirm what they knew and what could be learned from others.
With networking events, lunch and a range of booths in the outer conference area, there was every reason to stay on hand through the day.
No wonder women want to advance in a sector of the BC economy that offers more potential than other areas.
SheTalks Resources provided a platform for leaders of the resource sector to share their challenges, opportunities and success stories.
The day started with a presentation by habitat ecologist Marian Adair of the Nature Trust of British Columbia. Additional speaker information is below as profiled by our media sponsor The Province leading up to the event.
Many attendees also said that this was a sector that is advancing best practices, a sector that British Columbians can be proud of, and one that supports the future of BC’s families, economy, and provincial success.
Jill Tsolinas is with RODOS Consulting Inc. in corporate affairs.
Highlights of coverage by SheTalks Resources media sponsor The Province:
She has the triple-A education and has performed at the highest level for one of the world’s largest corporations, but Susannah Pierce’s message at SheTalks Resources will be balancing personal and professional lives.
With a master’s degree in economics, energy, technology and the environment from Johns Hopkins University, Pierce rocketed to the top, overseeing a vast array of global enterprises for Shell Oil, ranked No. 2 in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies.
Ellie Marynuik sees her job as presiding over a cultural shift for one of B.C.’s last male bastions.
There’s a reason they’ve always called them longshoremen, but Marynuik is on a crusade to find maritime workers of the female persuasion.
And she’s had considerable initial success: The number of women in B.C.’s maritime industry has tripled from 200 to 600 in her eight years as vice-president of human resources for the B.C. Maritime Employers Association.
Martinuik admits the job isn’t meant for everyone, especially as the industry is undergoing a significant demographic change.
“You have to have a thick skin,” Marynuik concedes. “I think that’s the case with any male-dominated industry.”
Michelle Pockey has taken women’s business networking to a whole new level.
When she and three friends founded the Professional Women’s Network, it seemed like a nice little idea. Then her friends pulled out, leaving Pockey in charge of what has become two large networks, with 1,000 members in Vancouver and 300 more in Calgary.
And, perhaps in a sign that the world truly has come full circle, 50 men are now members of the Professional Women’s Network.
Pockey believes women bring a special flair to the business she’s involved in — she’s a lawyer specializing in resource development. She tries to shepherd companies through the many legal, political and community hurdles that must be overcome to launch a major resource development.
Striking a balance between resources and biodiversity is one of B.C.’s most important challenges going forward. SheTalks Resources, habitat ecologist Marian Adair will be pointing out that development and conservation can, indeed, go hand in hand.
At SheTalks Resources, habitat ecologist Marian Adair will be pointing out that development and conservation can in fact go hand in hand.
While resource development brings affluence, Adair says locating those projects carefully for less environmental impact and more sustainability is a key to B.C.’s long-term health and growth.
“Unless we do that, we won’t have the forestry, we won’t have the fishing,” says Adair, who works with The Nature Trust of B.C.
She says women have an important nurturing role as B.C. strives to develop while preserving its natural wonders.
Vivian Krause believes U.S.-based foundations wield too much influence over Canada’s resource industry.
As a writer/researcher, Krause digs into the fine print to find out who’s funding the activists and environmentalists who protest projects and pipelines.
One key beef: She figures the U.S. foundations should clean up their own house first.
“They don’t mess with Texas,” says the plainspoken Krause, whose controversial research has created a backlash among those fighting for conservation.
“I think it’s important to follow the money.
“Environmental organizations always ask for transparency from the oil companies, and that’s good.
“It’s fair to ask for transparency in the funding of environmental groups.”
Businesswoman Maninder Dhaliwal is a featured speaker at SheTalks Resources, and says the May 4 event is a good opportunity to exchange knowledge and expertise.
Scenes from the day