Michelle Barker

Distribution Representative for NGL & Olefins Marketing at Williams Energy

Describe a typical day

There is rarely a typical day for me at work, although my morning routine usually starts off by reading through multiple reports I receive from my operations team. The reports cover off what our current production rates are at our two liquid extraction plants as well as our ROF fractionator located in Redwater, AB. The current production from our liquid extraction plants then flows down our Boreal pipeline and feed our ROF fractionator.  I am responsible for managing our rail car fleet in and out of the ROF terminal for our olefinic and parrafin commodities. On a day-to-day basis I’m not only managing our logistical side of the business for Canada but I’m continuously maintaining and building relationships with our external customers all over North America. I act as an industry liaison and support contract negotiations with the railroads to ensure we are capturing the best possible rates.

Perks of your job and things you like about your current company.

I enjoy being part of a company whose business focus is unique and unlike any other energy or oil and gas company here in Canada. Williams Energy is the only processor of oil sands upgrader olefinic offgas in the world and the owner of the only fractionator in Canada. It is very exciting to be a part of a company that is well-positioned for growth and new opportunities! As a result, I am privileged to work with colleagues who bring years of expertise to our group and who are helping mentor me throughout this growth period in my career.

Proudest accomplishments both in and outside of work.

I am most proud of my transition from my previous role at Williams as a Buyer, working with our Engineering and Construction group and into my current role as a Distribution Representative, managing all logistics for our Canadian business. Coming into this new position I knew I needed to jump out of my comfort zone and learn as much as I could about the logistical world because I never learned about this sector throughout my post-secondary program. I soon became a sponge and soaked up as much information as I could from my colleagues who bring years of expertise in the industry. I realized if I was going to be successful in this new position, I needed to be open to change, adaptable to situations, be brave and confident in my own skin, and most importantly, not afraid to make mistakes. One of my favorite quotes that got me through this rocky transition and on my way to developing myself in my new career was, "Success is often achieved by those who don't know that failure is inevitable” - Coco Chanel.

One of my many passions outside of work is running. I’ve been an avid runner and fitness junkie since my university days and over the past few years, I have ran in more than a handful of half marathons and 10 km races. This past summer I ran in my first trail race where I came second place overall!

Thoughts on the future of the industry as it relates to your field.

Logistics is a fast pace industry that never sleeps and will always be a vital part of this industry! In today’s economy it is vital to focus on ways to reduce transportation costs, right sizing fleets, re-negotiating contacts, and maximizing those strong customer relationships.  These areas of focus are becoming a lot more complex and involve more strategizing and collaboration than ever before. I believe we will be seeing continuous improvements and development in logistical infrastructure especially since Canada’s economic success has always been linked to its natural resources. I’m excited for what the future has in store!

Current community involvement efforts.

Since starting at Williams in 2013, I’ve been involved in many volunteer opportunities. A large portion of my volunteer efforts have been at the Calgary Drop-In Center, Calgary Food Bank, and supporting the United Way in many of the fundraisers. Just last summer I had the opportunity to raise money in support of a grassroots non-profit organization, CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society). I gathered a group of colleagues and friends together to raise money and run in a trail race in support of the organization. Needless to say, we all had a blast raising money and running for a great cause!

Why YWE?

Being part of a group of women that empower each other is such an amazing feeling! It’s allowing us to build our confidence up in this male dominant industry while learning the importance of networking. Not only are we meeting women that are all talented, educated and intelligent but we all have common goals and aspirations!

What are you reading?

A House in the Sky” by Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett. I just recently went to a very powerful talk called “As We Forgive…” which was put on by the MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) where Amanda Lindhout spoke about her story.