Mentor of Distinction
Being one of only about 10 women in her graduating class at the University of Calgary, Gina exhibited the qualities that would later make her a success at a time when women were just breaking through in the workforce. Gina began her career with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering and began work at Shell Canada as a production engineer for the Peace River Expansion Project. Here, she had an active role monitoring, designing and providing technical support for the completion of the 213 oil well development. From there her talents branched into the management of a private oil production company in Southeast Saskatchewan, followed by joining the team at Crestar Energy as a project engineer. Her accomplishments there included coordinating the drilling, completion and testing of 6 oilsands production wells. Today, Gina’s expertise in the field of production and operations engineering and project management helps her job in the Surmont oilsands project at ConocoPhillips.
Although Gina was aware of the career she could make for herself, she also had a keen sense of family. She met her husband, also a mechanical engineer, working as a summer student at Shell and together they raised 3 children, now teenagers. Because she felt strongly about providing a good education, both in and out of school, Gina stayed home for 11 years to support her children as they grew up. However, she soon returned to the workforce, ironically, to the same job and to the same project she had been a part of prior to her new role as a mom. She took on a new capacity, though, as a consultant, and was able to see the final days of production for the project she had been involved in designing and starting up.
Gina admits that part time work was not an industry accepted option, especially when her children were young, and the challenges of being a mom and an engineer have been trying at times. But Gina’s constant resilience and strength of character has allowed her to balance the best of both worlds. She relishes the role she plays as a mother and fondly describes her workforce experience involved in the development of not one, but two commercial oilsands projects as “having a ball!”
Today, Gina is actively involved in Operation Minerva, an organization that is geared towards exposing female students to the many possibilities open to them in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering. “I have been blessed throughout my career, both in and out of the workforce with exciting challenges and great opportunities” says Gina, “which is what continues to prompt me to encourage other young ladies (and men) to take up engineering.” The life experience Gina brings to Operation Minerva contributes to the ultimate success of the program because students are exposed to a positive role model, one who has done it all and done it well – a wife, mother, and engineer. In a world where there are increasing pressures involved with balancing all three, Gina is able to show her students, through example, that success is possible. Gina’s generous devotion to sharing her stories and giving encouragement to other young potential engineers rightfully earns her an award as a Mentor of the Millennium!