Rochelle Estep

Manager of Development Engineering and Joint Venture at Bonavista Energy

Describe a typical day

While there are some day to day rituals and routines, I love that there is always an element of the unknown.  New deals and ideas come up on a daily basis, so I never quite know what my day is going to hold. Drilling approval/planning meetings and acquisition and divestiture reviews occur weekly but the content of those discussions continually changes and evolves.

Mentoring and reviewing projects with my team is also a big part of my day, as I have been very fortunate to have amazing mentors throughout my career. Their experience and insight helped lay the foundation of my technical knowledge and industry understanding, so I like to try to do the same for my group; especially those new to development and reservoir engineering. I also continue to seek out guidance and perspective from my peers and supervisors, as there is always opportunity to grow and learn.

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

One of the biggest perks of my job is that I get to interface with a variety of different groups within the organization (drilling, geology, joint venture, land, production etc.) and in doing so, I have been able to really expand my knowledge base beyond my primary role. In my current leadership position I am able to play a role in the decisions and direction of the company.  I find it rewarding to see projects that I have been involved with come to fruition and the outcomes produced. One final perk of my current position is the ability to interface and present to our board of directors. To discuss projects, results and future plans with this very educated and knowledgeable group is an amazing opportunity.

In terms of Bonavista the thing I like the most is that we are a work hard, play hard company. There are significant expectations from each employee but we have a lot of fun too. From corporate challenge, to golf tournaments, to team volunteering and get-togethers there is always an opportunity to celebrate our successes.  Autonomy and accountability are also a positive that comes when working at Bonavista. Each technical employee is given quite a bit of room to come up with new ideas and bring them forward. Having a sense of responsibility and ownership in the projects I am working on is huge for me.

Proudest accomplishments both in and outside of work.

I am proud of the growth in my roles and responsibilities within Bonavista. When I started with the company I was a junior reservoir engineer but over the past 10 years I have taken on positions with increasing responsibilities and have moved from a working engineer into a management position. While growing my engineering skill set, I recognized that I had a significant interest in the area of finance so focus I completed my MBA while working full time, to expand my capabilities beyond technical engineering. It was a lot of hard work but provided me with knowledge and networks that I wouldn’t have developed otherwise.

Finally, as my career has grown, so has my family.  Being a working mother is a continual balancing act but it is so rewarding when you can continue to pursue your career while also enjoying all the fun that comes with having kids. My husband and extended family are a big support system, who help make it all possible.

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

In the 14 years I have worked in the energy sector I have seen a lot change in terms of technology and the way we develop oil and gas reserves. Multi stage fracking unlocked significant oil and gas resources that were previously thought to be uneconomic to pursue.  As a development engineer, whose primary goal is to find economic plays that add to our companies value, I think it will be important to stay educated on new technology that might unlock new reserve potential. Continually pushing the envelope and trying to new ideas will be important to driving the oil and gas sector in Alberta forward.

Current community involvement efforts.

There are so many great organizations within Calgary that I like to volunteer with a variety of them.  A few of my favorites include Habitat for Humanity, Adopt and Family and the Mustard Seed.  My company is also very involved with the United Way and runs a fun and engaging campaign each year that raises funds and educates our employees on the differences the United Way makes within the community here in Calgary.

On a more personal front, with my kids are starting school, I find more of my time is going to volunteering for different programs and activities within the school.  I have coordinated the school wide year end sports day, helped organize the home reading program and have spent time reading with students to help improve their early literacy skills.

Why YWE?

Women have been, and continue to be, a minority population within the energy sector.  I feel it is important that we educate and encourage women to pursue opportunities within the energy sector.  A significant opportunity to do this resides with young women just embarking on their careers, a demographic that YWE specifically targets. By providing a platform to network and connect, YWE is helping create a community of females who can grow and learn from each other’s insights and experiences.

What are you reading?

I am currently reading The Confidence Code by Katty Kad and Claire Shipman.  Another one of my favorite reads is Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  Both of these books take a hard look at why women are underrepresented, particularly in senior positions, and offer some suggestions and perspectives as to why this is with practical advice of how to overcome these challenges.  Both are very interesting reads with key takeaway’s and insights.