As seen in Oil Week:

Young Women in Energy (YWE), a Calgary-based group founded to advance the interests of young women working in the energy industry and address the need for heightened female leadership in oil and gas, has announced the winners of its inaugural YWE Awards, recognizing Alberta's top female talent.

"This year's award winners represent the future of the energy industry," YWE founder Anna Murray says. "Through their innovation, dedication and passion, they are paving the way to a bigger and brighter future for us all. We are so proud of this year's cohort and commend them for their leadership and vision."

Scroll down to meet the 10 inaugural selections for the 2014 YWE Awards:


IMG_4594-EditAlina Gabdrakhmanova

Subsea Project Engineer,

Alina Gabdrakhmanova, subsea project engineer at WorleyParsons, chose the engineering profession because of a gift of math and physics. Growing up in Ufa, Russia, oil and gas was a common field of employment so she decided to pursue a pipeline engineering degree. She spent the first few years of her career working on both onshore and offshore pipelines and facilities, and after completing her Masters of Engineering Management in Australia, accepted a position with WorleyParsons in Moscow, Russia.

Alina had always intended to start her career with an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company as she wanted to see how "projects are designed and executed", and has been given the opportunity to work on international projects. In the immediate future she is hoping to gain more field experience and eventually move into project management where she can influence how projects are executed.

Alina's ambition is also applied outside of work through her involvement with the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada (YPAC), where she is currently president. Founded in 2012, YPAC recognized the lack of knowledge transfer between baby boomers and the next generation and wanted to provide a forum where technical and engineering knowledge could be passed on, as well as attract and retain young people to the pipeline industry. To facilitate this, YPAC has recently partnered with the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) to create a formal mentorship program in 2015. Alina says she is a "strong believer in providing more exciting opportunities for young people in our industry, and if through our organization they are able to learn something new or establish a necessary connection to make that happen, I feel that my goal is accomplished."

As a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) award winner, Alina is optimistic about the future of the pipeline industry. "Considering the amount of public attention the industry is getting, the knowledge and recourse gap, and the fluctuations in oil price, companies have to find new ways of executing projects in a more sustainable and efficient manner. The desire for a win-win between everyone involved in the industry, and those affected by it has already caused substantial changes." Alina says. "All players, including the upstream and downstream, contractors and EPCs, will have to keep improving in order to stay ahead; it's a necessary process and welcomed change."

-- Katie Smith

Andrea Grant

Management Consultant,

A 360-degree window of the energy industry is a novelty to many. By working with oil and gas companies, governments, and energy industry associations on environmental and social issues, Andrea Grant, a management consultant at Stratos Inc., has this opportunity.

For Andrea, having worked on sustainability issues for her entire career, winning a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) Award is a sign of changing attitudes within the energy industry. In particular, it indicates the energy sector is paying greater attention to environmental and social challenges.

This shift is something Andrea sees in her day-to-day work as a thriving leader and catalyst for change. Andrea provides multi-disciplinary insight, leadership, facilitation, and communication services to clients such as Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), Natural Resources Canada, and the Alberta Energy Regulator. With a BSc. in environmental biology, a masters degree in public policy and administration, and a Certified Management Consultant designation, Andrea assists oil and gas and government clients to develop the strategies and management systems necessary to deal with questions of sustainability.

In doing so, she has witnessed tremendous leadership from the corporate sector, examples of which include seeing oil and gas competitors collaborate to address environmental and social issues that cannot be solved alone.

"I see the energy sector facing more complex problems than they have ever faced before. It's one thing to figure out how to get more oil out of the ground, or how to respond to commodity prices. It's another thing to figure out how to improve the international reputation of the entire sector, or how to earn public trust," Andrea says.

"Both corporate and public sector players are applying increasingly sophisticated solutions to these complex problems," she says, citing examples such as the government of Alberta's land use framework, provincial governments' ongoing work on a Canadian energy strategy, and COSIA's collaboration on environmental technologies for the oilsands.

These solutions usually involve multiple stakeholders, and are an encouraging sign that multi-stakeholders initiatives, such as the ones led by Andrea, will continue to be instrumental for shaping the future of energy.

-- Alessia Varaich

Anne Harding

Sr. Advisor, Stakeholder and Aboriginal Relations,
Suncor Energy

Since earning her masters degree in corporate-aboriginal relations from the University of Calgary, Anne Harding has gone on to found Forum Stakeholder Relations, serve on the board of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) Canada, and has been actively involved in her local community association and Inn From the Cold.

Currently working as a senior advisor, stakeholder and aboriginal relations for Suncor Energy, Anne applies her lifelong passion for people, and the joy she derives from learning their stories, to work with communities impacted by resource development. She is recognized by her colleagues for her "tireless efforts to advance social prosperity, community engagement and aboriginal relations, inspiring critical change while directly contributing to sustainability within the company".

As a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) award winner, Anne believes effective dialogue is the key to the evolving energy sector. She sees the industry moving to a place of greater transparency and collaboration with more, better-informed, and empowered stakeholders rising to work collaboratively with other interests.

"You see it with the controversies and conversations around the pipeline or oil clean ups," she says. "Even five years ago, you didn't hear as much about these issues, but with how information currently flows, stakeholders are no longer willing to accept the status quo." As such, the ability to hold conversations effectively becomes ever more important.

Dialogue is also what keeps Anne driven outside of work. As president of IAP2, Anne established a mentorship program where she seeks to use conversation to inspire by example. "It's important to share our successes and hold up for others what paths we took to get where we are, so that they may see a bit of themselves in us and be inspired on their own journey."

Working in the fledgling field of stakeholder relations makes her efforts all the more impactful, she says. "I found such value early in my career in being able to talk to people about what they did. It's really important to pass that on. Because the field of stakeholder relations is not really well defined in terms of the path to get there, it's an opportunity for me to help put a face to it."

Reflecting on her career within the energy industry, which often meant being the only female, and often the youngest at the table, Anne encourages others to approach their career with an "I belong here" mindset.

-- Alessia Varaich


Brittney Ramsay

Britt Land Services

At 26, Brittney Ramsay became one of Calgary's youngest presidents in the energy industry.

Though she became president nearly 10 years earlier than expected, Brittney fearlessly transitioned Britt Land Services, her family's legacy company, into a new-era business with a passion for people, culture and growth. Since her leadership transition in 2011, Brittney has enhanced the multi-million dollar company's presence, implemented focused core values and continues to set an exemplary standard of female leadership and strength.

With a communications degree from the University of Calgary, and fresh off a 21-day Outward Bound experience in New Zealand, Brittney served initially as the business development manager for Britt Land Services. In this role, she was instrumental in driving growth within the organization and client-base. Following her degree, Brittney also went on to receive her licensed land agent designation.

Through her ambition and unyielding fortitude to face substantial challenges, Brittney has become a leader in a number of membership-driven organizations including Entrepreneurs Organization and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landman.

"Since I became president at such a young age, I compensated for my youth and inexperience by joining [organizations] where practiced industry professionals participated. This allowed me to not only make connections within the industry, but also helped me to get advice on difficult decisions that I was facing within my organization."

Brittney is also a dedicated volunteer for an organization that has closely affected her family. "Eight years ago, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Since then, I have been active in Parkinson Alberta. In 2011, my sister and I put together a fundraiser which raised over $53,000 for the organization. This fundraiser was one of the most successful fundraisers for Parkinson Alberta to date."

Brittney was nominated for a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) award by her fellow leaders and colleagues at Britt Land Services. "Receiving this award provides me with a strong platform to connect with fellow young women and entrepreneurs to help them navigate through challenges and difficult decisions."

-- Kaitlyn MacMillan

Chelsey Reschke

Vice President, Coating Division
Keymay Industries

Chelsey Reschke joined KeyMay Industries in 2013 as vice president of its newly-formed coating division. With a background in coating integrity and quality management, her technical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit were required to spearhead the research and development of a fully automated fusion bond applicator for pipeline field joint coating.

Chelsey understands the impact her field has on the pipeline industry. "Over 75 per cent of pipeline failures happen at the field joint. We want to focus on that, take the guesswork or human error out of it, so we can have pipelines that are safer and last longer. Better coating applications support better pipeline integrity, therefore improving social, environmental and economic benefit for the industry."

Chelsey has been strategic in designing her career and working toward future aspirations. She strongly believes in the importance of hands-on experience and was able to gain critical field experience as a coating inspector and coating applicator in northern Alberta and British Columbia as an independent contractor. Chelsey took a leap of faith and accepted an opportunity to become a key team member on an international LNG project in Australia. To further her technical expertise, Chelsey is also pursuing the highest level of certification for her industry–Protective Coating Specialist through NACE International.

As a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) award winner, Chelsey is passionate about promoting the coating trade throughout the pipeline industry.

"The Harper government has recently introduced legislation to support the use of best available technologies, including materials, construction methods and emergency response techniques. I see this as a significant opportunity for companies who embrace innovation to further enhance Canada's world class pipeline offerings, and that's precisely what KeyMay is focusing on."

Chelsey credits mentorship as a major factor in her success. The men and women who have been mentors and career champions throughout her career have been instrumental in her successes. Chelsey hopes to pay it forward through mentorship and speaking opportunities, with a specific interest in mentoring other managers who have entered into a leadership role at a young age.

"You're given opportunities to mentor every day. It takes a certain level of confidence to understand that people are interested in what you're saying. You need to be ready to recognize those opportunities."

-- Katie Smith

Chidinma Thompson

Sr. Associate,

As a senior associate at Borden Ladner Gervais, energy litigation and regulatory law has drawn Dr. Chidinma Thompson through the innermost workings of the Canadian energy industry. Her area of practice includes licensing and approval for development of oil and gas, oilsands, LNG, and pipelines projects, to name a few. Her legal experience is extensive, spanning international borders from Canada to Africa.

Chidinma's interest in law was piqued as a little girl. "I used to watch TV shows featuring lawyers and I was fascinated by how they figured things out. I wanted to be like them. I had that dream. I worked towards it and here I am today."

As the first Ph. D. graduate at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Law, Chidinma has made history. Her doctorate research focused on the socio-economic challenges of large-scale energy development. She studied Alberta's oilsands to find viable solutions to infrastructure and labour shortages challenging energy development.

Chidinma sees opportunity all around her and as a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) Award winner, she feels that improved energy laws and policies are capable of changing the industry for the better.

"We're doing well and there's always room for improvement," says Chidinma. "It is an honor to be recognized by my peers. I am very pleased to have my hard work and accomplishments acknowledged by the energy industry."

As for inspiration, Chidinma powers her passion by teaching at the University of Calgary and from her loving husband and two children.

-- Allyson Simpson

Christina Pilarski

Manager Campaigns,
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers

Christina Pilarski has a challenging role to fill, bridging the gap between Canada's energy companies and Canadian citizens by communicating the importance of oil and gas to Canada.

At the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), Christina works alongside key members of the energy industry to communicate a common voice for the industry. "Other brands do a great job creating buzz and how that particular brand or industry affects their life every day. I believe the energy industry is no exception. Petroleum products are such a big part of our lives; it's in our cars, our clothing and impacts our food. My job is to make sure Canadians understand the impact and importance energy has on our country, and to equip them with the tools they need to share that message with their friends and family. It's about instilling pride for Canada's energy in all Canadians."

As a master's graduate from the University of Calgary, Christina has worked in a variety of communications roles including time with the government of Alberta. "I love paying attention to current events. Being involved in political campaigns was always something that interested me and was a great fit for my passions. That's why when I joined CAPP, initially as a digital communications advisor, a campaign-based portfolio was a natural transition. In my current role as manager, campaigns, I focus on cultivating awareness of the energy industry and empowering people."

When Christina is not developing and implementing new campaigns such as Canada's Energy Citizens, a national awareness campaign for the industry, she actively volunteers on numerous political movements, her involvement in the 2014 Alberta provincial by-election being the most recent. Christina is also a strong believer in mentorship as she frequently coaches young professionals on conflict resolution and political management.

Through motivating Canadians and challenging the status quo, Christina is one of ten women to have received the 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) Award. "Receiving this award is an absolute honor. It not only is allowing me to broaden my professional network but is providing me the opportunity to showcase the multi-dimensions of the energy industry."

-- Kaitlyn MacMillan



Holly Turner


Functional Excellence Lead, Finance, ConocoPhillips Canada

A desire to understand how things work and why, led Holly Turner into the mathematical field and her need to recognize efficiencies and improve processes brought her farther, into the field of finance and accounting. She entered the industry in 2002, joining the finance team at ConocoPhillips Canada (COP), and has built an admirable career with them since, beginning as an analyst and currently residing in a leadership role as Functional Excellence Lead.

COP strives to connect individual achievements to overall strategy and success, and this shows, as Holly was nominated for a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) award by her colleagues.

To Holly, this award shows that women's contributions are valued in the energy sector, and high profile companies, such as her employer, are encouraging and promoting women's success.

Outside of her career, this award is also an important symbol to her children, who she also draws on for inspiration. "They keep me grounded and remind me of what is important, and motivate me to be better. I see myself in them, and I want them to be the best people they can be. That drives me to set good examples and keep my integrity at all times".

She plans to use this opportunity to expand her network through YWE and build relationships with others outside of COP. "I want to see many more women succeed in their careers, have a voice at all levels, and take advantage of the many opportunities this industry affords us. I would love to use this to help me connect with other up and coming leaders".

Having different platforms that provide opportunities to connect will also become increasingly important, as the energy industry evolves. "Communication will become more important than ever. More organizations will become multi-national, virtual, and employ a wider variety of people. Those who can keep up with technology but still keep their relationship skills will be vital to our success".

-- Anji Hardy

Jacqueline O’Toole

Operations Engineer,
Husky Energy

Jacqueline O'Toole, an operations engineer at Husky Energy, developed a passion for engineering and energy at a young age. Since her father is an engineer, she had early exposure to the field, and saw first-hand the positive impact engineering has on improving the quality of life for society. "I became excited about the energy sector in Halifax, Nova Scotia while working for ExxonMobil as a drilling and completions engineering student. After graduation from Dalhousie University with an electrical engineering degree, I followed the oil and gas industry to Calgary".

Jacqueline's promising career has been notable for her positions in technical engineering, risk management, project and construction management of mega projects, and operational engineering. These varied positions have gained her a comprehensive understanding of the energy business. She has received several accolades, including forum chair for the North American Women in Energy Forum and Husky Energy's CEO Award of Excellence.

For Jacqueline, receiving a Young Women in Energy (YWE) award is an honour, recognizing the hard work she has put into building her career, but more importantly highlighting the contributions women are making in the energy sector. She hopes the continued promotion of women's achievements in the energy sector will inspire the next generation of women to select careers in science and engineering.

"Mentorship is an empowering form of learning. It is not only about guidance with career planning, it is about having role models for cultivating the soft skills of leadership such as effective communication and persuasion; motivation and delegation. In addition to mentoring, for career advancement, women need opportunities to showcase their skills in leading challenging and high-profile projects and initiatives."

-- Anji Hardy

Jennifer Winter

 Associate Director, Energy and Environmental Policy,
The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary

Dr. Jennifer Winter is the associate director, energy and environmental policy at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. Following a short-term opportunity with the government of Canada, Jennifer decided influencing public policy was better accomplished working for an influential think-tank.

In the wake of falling oil prices and global sanctions, energy and the environment remain top of mind for Canadians. The hot debate continues about Canada's role in climate change and responsibly advancing our energy future. Through research, public appearances and media commentary, Jennifer, strives to provide a balanced discussion on the key policy issues impacting energy development, our economy and the environment.

"I love being a neutral and impartial voice in energy and environmental policy discussions. It's one of the best parts of being at an academic institution. I'm going to continue to do what I do best: research policy issues that I'm passionate about."

Part of Jennifer's role is to facilitate multi-stakeholder discussions on controversial energy policies.

"Energy development is getting more challenging; public acceptance isn't a sure thing. I think the industry is going to have to rise to this challenge and show its environmental stewardship credentials, instead of focusing on the economic benefits."

As a 2014 Young Women in Energy (YWE) Award winner, Jennifer is raising the bar on energy and environmental policy; creating a space for rational and informed energy discussions.

Outside Young Women in Energy, Jennifer is a member of the World Petroleum Council Canadian chapter. When asked what Jennifer's future holds she says; "I want to use the tools I learned from my Ph. D. to improve public policy in Canada and the energy sector. I want to push the envelope even further."

-- Allyson Simpson