We sat down (virtually) with a few of the hard working Operator Technicians at our Westridge Marine Terminal. Tiffany, Claire, Roselyn and Amanda told us about their roles keeping our Terminal operating safely and shared the different career paths and experiences that brought them to their current positions.

Pictured left to right: Claire Morton, Amanda Walsh, Roselyn Gritten Not pictured: Tiffany Wesolowsky

What was your career path on the way to becoming an Operator Technician with Trans Mountain?

Tiffany: In 2007, I started the Power Engineering Co-op program at Keyano College in Fort McMurray. From there I completed two work terms, one at a hydrogen processing plant, the other at a crude processing plant. The crude processing plant hired me post-work term and I was an operator there for five years. It was a great experience as the plant was new and I was able to be a big part of a lot of the commissioning. I also was part of the Emergency Response Team and was lucky enough to go to Texas and receive my 1080 industrial firefighting certificate. I was then offered a contract job with Major Projects at an oil and gas company in Alberta and was there until I started here in 2018. I’m very grateful for all of my previous work experiences and all of the wonderful people I have been lucky enough to work with. They all taught me different aspects of the job and helped to mold me into the operator I am now.

Amanda: After graduating high school in 2007 I acquired my 4th class power engineering ticket at Keyano College in Fort McMurray in 2008 and have been working as a process operator in the oil and gas industry ever since. I’ve been working at the Westridge Dock since May 2020.

Claire: Before I moved to Canada six years ago my full-time job was as a Firefighter. My day-to-day role was helping people in what could potentially be the worst day of their lives. I joined Trans Mountain in 2016.

Roselyn: I have a degree in Chemical Engineering but after university, I worked as an offshore Chemist in the North Sea for seven years. During that time my husband and I applied to immigrate to Canada. Four years later we flew first class (as a treat) and landed in Calgary on January 29 and it was -27 degrees Celsius. We stayed there for three weeks then rented a car and drove up to Fort McMurray. I kept my offshore job in Scotland because I wasn’t sure we would like living here. I was on a two weeks on, three weeks off work schedule so I was able to commute to my job while living in Canada for another 18 months. I worked at a waste management and industrial services company in North Vancouver for four years before joining Trans Mountain in 2019. After we decided to stay in Canada, we adopted a little girl and I pursued a Canadian qualification. I now have a 3rd Class Power Engineering certificate.

What drew you to a career as an Operator Tech?

Roselyn: The hydro-carbon business.

Tiffany: Originally, I knew I wanted to be in a trade, and at the time Power Engineers were in very high demand. I enjoy working outside, troubleshooting, being part of a team, and wanted to learn something completely new to me. When I saw my current role advertised, I applied, Trans Mountain interviewed me and thankfully here I am.

Amanda: My father and grandfather were process operators mostly in pulp mills up until my father moved our family from Nova Scotia to Fort McMurray in 2006 to work in the oil and gas industry. Since then both myself and my younger brother have become operators as well.

How do you describe your job to family and friends?

Claire: Although part of my role is Operations my job title is Emergency Response Technician. I am responsible along with my colleagues for training and leading employees to respond to any emergency situation.

Roselyn: I help load ships in a safe manner. Before I started at Trans Mountain I never imagined I would ever learn to drive a crane. I can’t wait to get my speed boat license!

Amanda: Keeping the oil in the pipes.

Tiffany: I try to ensure the day-to-day operations of the tank farm are as seamless as possible. We manipulate valves, we prepare lock outs, we troubleshoot, we respond, we write permits, we do inspections, we take samples, we work as a team to complete projects and we try to stay on top of things and be prepared for everything.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Amanda: Being by the ocean every day.

Roselyn: The atmosphere, there is high morale. People have respect for what they do and respect for colleagues.

Tiffany: The people. Our team is growing and there is so much experience and knowledge from different backgrounds; we learn a lot from each other. It’s also very exciting to see and be part of the Expansion Project. It’s fast paced and going to be very interesting to see it through from beginning to end. There are lots of training opportunities, experience to be gained, and opportunities to progress within the company. The past two years with Trans Mountain have been wonderful, and I look forward to growing with the company.

Claire: I enjoy training with the team here at Burnaby and Westridge and trying to ensure we are all knowledgeable and confident to respond to any incident.

What advice would you give someone looking to pursue a career in the industry?

Amanda: A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. Get as much hands-on operating experience as you can.

Tiffany: It has turned out to be a rewarding career choice for me. My best advice would be to research it, talk to people in the industry, and to consider all aspects of the job while deciding if it’s right for you.

Roselyn: Do it. There is plenty of opportunity for growth and improve your skills. Training is well organized and the pay and benefits are good too.

Claire: This is what I would say to any young girl choosing her future… we can do anything we set our mind to, don’t let society dictate what career is appropriate for you!