ARCHIVED - Harnessing your Professional Passion
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National Energy Board
November 13 2013
Slide 1 speaking notes (click to view)
- Today I have been asked to offer you my views about professional passion and what I think it means to harness it.
- Through giving you a brief overview of my career path and speaking about what we do at the NEB to promote and nurture professional passion, I want to offer you my thoughts about what professional passion means to me, and where I think it comes from.
- I believe "professional passion" is often ignited at a really young age. The connection between one's professional passion and early curiosity cannot be overstated.
- In my view, professional passion develops from seeking and following up on opportunities and some serendipity.
Slide 2 speaking notes (click to view)
- When I think about what it means to pursue one's passion Commander Chris Hadfield comes to mind. Chris Hadfield recently spent five months aboard the International Space Station as the commander. He talks about how he watched the rockets launched on television as a young boy, and how that ignited his passion for space travel and his desire to be an astronaut when he grew up. He pursued that passion.
- Chris Hadfield gave the world - and Canadians - an important and unique view of this planet we live on, and changed the way in which we see space.
- Commander Hadfield had the following advice for a young Canadian about following your passion.
- "Decide in your heart what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that… You may not get exactly where you thought you'd be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in."
Slide 3 speaking notes (click to view)
- As a youngster I spent many nights around a dinner table listening to conversations about the challenges of building and delivering energy to people and communities in developed and developing areas of the world.
- My introduction to these challenges sparked my curiosity about how we, as a society, should address questions associated with integrating social and economic development and environmental protection.
- The decision to train in the environmental biology field was not something that was immediately obvious to me in my youth. In fact, this study path resulted from a combination of life events and as I look back, it was serendipitous that I studied environmental biology.
- My undergraduate training taught me how to problem solve. This training has helped me in many aspects of my life.
Slide 4 speaking notes (click to view)
- There were not as many opportunities for women in science at the time I was making my decisions about my career as there are for girls and women today. (Expand on personal experience)
- As I look back over my career so far, it is my view that if you are doing what you believe in, if you are following your passion, the hurdles, the challenges will help shape how you find your passion.
Slide 5 speaking notes (click to view)
- Like Chris Hadfield, following my passion did not involve following a clear or straight path. So far, it has been an amazing journey which I have had the good fortune to experience.
- Not limiting myself to a specific destination – while staying true to the vision and my professional passion - has provided me an incredible career path.
- I sought opportunities and was fortunate to be given them. Many of these opportunities have required me to tackle new challenges which has allowed me to grow and develop as an individual. What I have learned from one experience has better prepared me for the next.
Slide 6 speaking notes (click to view)
- Before joining the National Energy Board, I was a Board Member with the Natural Resources Conservation Board for five years. I also spent about 15 years in the environmental consulting business- much of it as a vice-president and partner in a firm.
- Working as a member of a team has always been important to me. I believe that by considering a broad diversity of expertise and perspectives, we challenge ourselves which leads to better solutions.
- There were a number of different choices that took me to where I am today.
Slide 7 speaking notes (click to view)
- How did I become a Board Member at the National Energy Board?
- I applied as part of an open competition – I saw an advertisement in the newspaper and applied.
- And I am glad that I did. The NEB is a place where people come to work who are looking for interesting and challenging employment; people who want to make a difference; people who want to work in the national public interest.
- What is the NEB? Let me provide you with a bit of background about it.
Slide 8 speaking notes (click to view)
- The NEB is an independent federal agency established in 1959 by the Parliament of Canada to regulate international and interprovincial aspects of the oil, gas and electric utility industries.
- We are a quasi-judicial tribunal that regulates pipelines, energy development and trade in the Canadian public interest.
- My role at the NEB is to participate in Board decision-making processes as one of nine permanent members, to be involved in the management of the organization and to act for the Chair when required.
Slide 9 speaking notes (click to view)
- We have regulatory responsibilities for oil and gas exploration and activities on frontier lands in Canada's North and in some offshore areas on both the West and East coast.
- We regulate approximately 73,000 kilometres of pipelines and approximately 1,400 kilometres of international power lines across Canada.
- We work to keep the public safe, protect the environment, make sure Canadians benefit from efficient energy infrastructure and markets, and that the rights and interests of those affected by NEB-regulated facilities and activities are respected.
Slide 10 speaking notes (click to view)
- We have a broad range of expertise at the NEB.
- We have employees who specialize in engineering, safety, the environment, socio-economics, finance, corporate services, information technology, law, and GIS - just to name a few.
- Having a diversity of views is critical to making good decisions – not only gender diversity, but diversity of perspectives from different ethnic backgrounds, geography, ages and abilities.
Is there a gender difference when it comes to professional passion?
Slide 11 speaking notes (click to view)
- I don't believe there a gender difference when it comes to professional passion.
- There are different realities and considerations, and there may be different obstacles or factors to consider for women and men in how they choose and/pursue their passion.
- Professional passion is, in my view, a great equalizer in the workplace.
Slide 12 speaking notes (click to view)
- The Board is committed to having a diversified workforce. One aspect of our diversity goals is to provide a workplace where gender is not a limiting factor to career advancement.
- 60% of employees at the Board are women, and many of them are in Leadership roles.
- 50 % of middle management and 30% of senior management positions are filled by women.
Slide 13 speaking notes (click to view)
- There are many like me at the NEB – those who are driven to follow their professional passion, make a difference and contribute back to their communities and our country.
- You don't need to take my word for it -- we asked a couple of women at the NEB about what role professional passion plays in their career choices and their decision to work here.
- See what they have to say…
Slide 14 speaking notes (click to view)
- I bring my professional passion to work every day and I am surrounded by people who share my drive to make a difference.
- I believe that organizations like the NEB have an important role in helping Canada be the best it can be. To do that, we need people who are experts in their areas; who's passion for their work allows the Board to continually improve in the delivery of our regulatory mandate.
- In order to attract and retain outstanding people, we need to be an outstanding organization and that is what we strive to be.
Slide 15 speaking notes (click to view)
- In October 2013, the NEB was named a Top 100 employer in Canada for a fifth time.
- We have also been named as one of Canada's Top Family Friendly organizations.
- Let me describe some aspects of our organization that I believe are important to attract talented people.
Interesting and Challenging Work
Slide 16 speaking notes (click to view)
Interesting and challenging work in the national public interest
- As I said before we have a wide-range of expertise at the Board, and these people work on projects across the country – from coast to coast to coast. A day at the office may involve a large contentious public hearing, traversing a pipeline in the countryside, meeting with local Aboriginal groups or meeting with affected landowners.
- For many of us, the NEB is a place where we are able to practice the best part of our profession – our advice and expertise is valued and recognized. This is true in terms of our regulatory business and our corporate areas – human resources, information technology, finance, and other professional and administrative careers.
Fosters learning and professional development
Slide 17 speaking notes (click to view)
A workplace that fosters learning and professional development
- We support staff in pursuing their education outside of work.
- We also provide ongoing training on the job, encourage participation at conferences, and offer a leadership development program. We help people grow and develop, and achieve their career and learning goals – whether that is to earn a degree, learn a new language (we are a bilingual workplace), or focus on particular areas of learning to expand their professional depth.
Fosters learning and professional development
Slide 18 speaking notes (click to view)
- We promote hands-on learning -- coaching is a key component of employee learning at the NEB. Through our Technical Excellence Program, the expertise of staff is supported by a culture of continual learning, knowledge networks, and communities of practice. Here, our staff can discuss issues relevant to their discipline, best and emerging practices and collaboratively develop innovative solutions to challenges.
Supportive and inclusive
Slide 19 speaking notes (click to view)
A supportive and inclusive workplace, underpinned by a strong culture of values
- At the NEB we believe that respect and safety are everyone's right, and are committed to creating a positive environment, where everyone can achieve their full potential. As an organization we are passionate about a values-based culture – so much so we measure how well we are doing on a regular basis, and it's part of our performance assessments – corporately and individually for leaders.
Each quarter, we ask all staff to comment on:
- the extent to which the NEB offers work-life balance that works for each person;
- whether they feel they understand the reasons for decisions and direction;
- whether they feel their ideas and input is heard and addressed by leadership.
Supportive and inclusive
Slide 20 speaking notes (click to view)
- Le Collectif Franco was established at the Board to promote French-Canadian culture within the NEB as well as the use and retention of the French language among our employees. The group encourages networking and cultural activities in French in Calgary, an asset to our French-speaking employees new to the city.
Supportive and inclusive
Slide 21 speaking notes (click to view)
- Every year we celebrate Aboriginal Awareness week at the Board to recognize the diverse and unique perspective of Canada's Aboriginal culture and its contribution to Canada's rich history.
Value work / life balance
Slide 22 speaking notes (click to view)
- We recognize that everyone has different realities that affect their day to day life, and this sometimes impacts the way in which they work. At the NEB we seek to be responsive and flexible so that staff have a work/life balance that works for them.
- We have staff who work part –time; staff who bank time so they can balance busy work times with time for other commitments and interests; and we are flexible with start and finish times for those who are commuting from the far reaches of our city.
Value work / life balance
Slide 23 speaking notes (click to view)
- We also have staff who telework from home on a full or part-time basis. We have employees working as far east as Newfoundland, and as far west as Vancouver Island.
Slide 24 speaking notes (click to view)
- At the NEB, I am fortunate to work with very smart people who collectively want to do the "right thing". Determining what is the "right thing" to do is guided by our collective professional passions.
- My work allows me to live up to my own vision of what I want out of my career – to be part of a team that makes a difference, even (and especially) when challenging times arise.
Slide 25 speaking notes (click to view)
- What I want to leave you with today is this:
- Know that professional passion is ignited early, and think about how important your dinner table conversations are with the young people in your lives.
- Nurture your professional passion. It has been my experience that if you stay true to what drives you, you will find opportunities that lead you to interesting places.
- Find a place that supports you in the demonstration of your professional passion.
- With that I will conclude, and thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences and views with you today.
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