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Women in STEM and Canadian Energy

Posted By Heather Christie-Burns, Monday, August 12, 2019

Heather Christie-Burns

I’ve always been a geek. Since childhood, I’ve been interested in how things work, and the parts that create systems. “Why?”, and more importantly, “why not?” both featured often in my speech. I became an engineer; it felt like the right fit for me, connecting science and the practical application of it in the everyday. I have never felt that I was limited due to my gender.

The ability to solve challenges in finding and producing oil and gas, and the phenomenal opportunities to do this in the province of Alberta were gifts I received. I progressed from the training of a larger Company, sitting rigs in Southern Alberta, to starting up and running small Companies with teams of other technical professionals and learning all the aspects of the business. Now in my late 40s, I remind myself of my “Why?” and I keep this spirit of discovery alive. This is especially important today working in the Canadian Energy Industry.

We are living in a polarized time in our country on issues of energy – related to the environment and to our economy. Our resources are our lifeblood, no more felt than in Alberta right now. We want to use them carefully and thoughtfully. For all the effort being spent on social media missives, we would do far better to get together and look for those “third ways” – how do we spend not only our money, but our time?

What appears to limit us is only the proving ground for the solutions to come.

We need the biggest networks of people possible, minds from all backgrounds, working on better technologies, new ways of thinking, and “third ways” of solving a problem. The data technologies emerging will generate new methods in managing our projects – this is already starting to happen. Canada is a leader in environmental technologies, and our home grown systems can be exported around the globe.

I will say to anyone, if this opportunity intrigues you, then STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career fields need you. STEM fields have been known to be male-dominated, and I will also say that THE TIME IS NOW for more women to join these fields and contribute their gifts to society.

I have answered “Why?” on the question of the opportunity for women in STEM, and specifically in the Canadian Energy Industry.

If you know an inspiring woman that is making an impact in ANY STEM field please help recognize her contributions by nominating her for Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 in the new STEM category [Manulife Science and Technology category]. This category will help acknowledge and recognize women in STEM fields and create visibility for other women in STEM.

Because, as we continue to share our stories, the question should be “Why not?” All the best in your journey of inquiry.

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Heather Christie-Burns, President and CEO of High Ground Energy Inc., is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters category for 2018. She has been recognized as a woman who has made a major impact in her field, in turn making a significant contribution to Canadian society. Heather is also breaking traditional barriers as a leading female in STEM.

Do you know a female trailblazer who deserves to be recognized or a leading woman who has is breaking new ground in STEM, contributing to Canadian society? Are you a trendsetter or a woman in STEM that’s made an impact on Canada? Click here to nominate today! It's free! Deadline to nominate is June 17.

Looking for more information about Top 100? Visit our website to learn all about the awards including the CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters and Manulife Science & Technology!


About Heather:

Heather Christie-Burns portraitHeather Christie-Burns is President and CEO of High Ground Energy Inc.
2018 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
CIBC Trailblazers & Trendsetters

Ms. Christie-Burns is President and Chief Executive officer and a founder of High Ground Energy Inc., a private equity backed upstream E&P company with assets in eastern Alberta in the Viking light oil play. High Ground is one of a very few ‘blind pool’ (building from no assets) private company start-ups in Alberta in the last 4 years, with a $230 million equity backing in July 2014 from Pine Brook and Camcor Partners. The Company purchased assets from Penn West Petroleum in April 2016 and has since transformed the asset from a liability-weighted legacy gas base without cash flow into a healthy going-concern light oil project with 3,300 boe/d of production and approximately $33 million of cash flow from operations. High Ground has 15 employees in Calgary and 15 contractors managing its field operations in Consort, Alberta.

Prior to founding High Ground Energy in 2014, Heather co-founded and was President and Chief Operating Officer of Angle Energy Inc., an Alberta based, TSX- listed upstream E&P Company with an enterprise value upon sale in December 2013 of $576 million. Angle Energy was grown through the drill bit as a Canadian controlled private company, blind pool start up. The Company went public in June 2008 and was the last IPO that year on the TSX. Upon its sale, Angle Energy had 48 employees, 11,000 boe/d of production, and approximately $100 million of cash flow from operations.

Ms. Christie-Burns is a successful entrepreneur, building companies for the past fourteen years. Additionally, in Heather’s twenty-four year career as a professional engineer she has developed expertise in petroleum exploitation, M&A, corporate and property evaluations, joint venture negotiations, reservoir engineering and production operations. Previous to her executive roles at Angle, Ms. Christie-Burns was the Senior Reservoir Engineer at Bear Creek Energy Ltd. from January 2002 through March 2004. From February 1999 to January 2002, she was Senior Reservoir Engineer and later Senior Exploitation Engineer with Encal Energy Ltd. Prior roles include Fekete Associates Inc. and a field engineering role at Norcen Energy.

Ms. Christie-Burns earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Calgary. She is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). She was recognized in 2011 by Calgary’s Avenue Magazine as one of the top 40 under 40, and was also awarded recognition in Oilweek’s Class of Rising Stars of 2011. Heather has presented to a variety of audiences including the Oil and Gas Council, Women’s Executive Network (WXN), WinSETT, the SPE, the Calgary CFA Society and Calgary Women in Energy and participated as a mentor over the past four years in the Lilith Professional Organization.

Tags:  Achievements  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  female leaders  leadership  STEM  Top 100  Top 100 Awards  Top 100 Winner  Top 100 Winners  trailblazers  trendsetters  Women  Women in Leadership  women in STEM  Women Leaders  Women Leadership  WXN 

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We Are Stronger Together

Posted By Julie Quenneville, Friday, August 9, 2019

People often ask me what it’s like to lead multi-million dollar campaigns. Fundraising is a lot more than the ask, but there’s no doubt that it requires confidence and self-awareness to be able to sit down with an individual, or in front of a committee, and make a multi-million dollar pitch. As a woman, and one often much younger than the people on the other side of the table, it can be tremendously challenging. My work as president of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation has led me to cultivate skills I hadn’t anticipated honing. In my work today, I must be strong, bold and composed. I must not look away, I must be unflinching.

My career began in journalism, and from there I worked in provincial politics, where in a short time I was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff and Political Advisor to the then health minister. In 2005, I moved into a management role at the MUHC, and my work in strategic development and marketing in the health care domain took off in earnest.

Working in a hospital setting is certainly unique. Simply walking to a meeting, I pass patients being prepped for surgery, people on their way to an appointment where they will receive a life-altering diagnosis, or a new mother leaving from her latest round of chemotherapy. That ever-present essential human drama underscores the work I do, and it reminds me why I strive for excellence each and every day.

I am proud of being recognized as a TOP 100 Award Winner. When I learned that I had been selected, I was initially surprised, but I allowed myself a brief moment to feel the power that comes with recognition like this. There have been times in my career, in my life, where I have felt powerless, and to be named powerful, one of the 100 most powerful in the country, is emboldening.

It’s not for myself though that I feel a quickening in my stomach or my spine straightening just a slight bit more, it’s for the women around me every day, the women I pass on my way to the office, my girlfriends, my own daughter, my mother. This achievement, this honour, is for all of us.

Because, we are stronger together.

When women run companies, more women get promoted to senior management positions. When women sit on corporate boards, there is a diversity of opinion and perspective that was previously lacking. When women run for public office, more women vote, and little girls imagine themselves as leaders in their own right.

When we highlight the achievements of some women, we help all believe more is possible.

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We are pleased to have Julie as a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders Category as well as a contributor and speaker at our events throughout the year. 

Do you know a female in Canada who deserves to be recognized for her contributions? Click here to learn more about our Top 100 Nominations and how to nominate yourself or someone else. It's free!


About Julie:

Julie Quenneville portraitJulie Quenneville is President of McGill University Health Centre Foundation.
2018 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders

Julie Quenneville is President of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation, which supports patient care, teaching and research at the MUHC, one of Canada’s top three research hospitals.

Since assuming the leadership of the MUHC Foundation in October 2015, Julie has spearheaded a transformation of the charitable organization resulting in a 60 per cent increase in annual revenue and a drop in the cost ratio from 22 per cent to 16 per cent. Last year alone, the Foundation’s donor community grew by one quarter.

Prior to her career in philanthropy, Julie joined the political cabinet of Quebec’s then Minister of Health and Social Services, Philippe Couillard. Within a year, she was promoted to Associate Chief of Staff. She ran Couillard’s Montreal office, and was responsible for steering key health legislation such as the new national policy for mental health services, the ban on smoking in all public spaces, access to services for English-speaking and cultural communities and the public health portfolio.

Julie’s most sensitive dossier was the provincial government’s campaign to save the Shriners Hospital of Canada. Shriners announced its intention to move the country’s only hospital from Quebec to Ontario in 2003. For two years, Julie coordinated the campaign to save the Shriners which involved high profile decision makers including the Premier of Quebec, the Mayor of Montreal, and the some of the city’s leading institutions, including the MUHC, McGill University, and Montreal’s Chamber of Commerce as well as many business leaders. The victory, which was deemed impossible two years prior, was announced in 2005.

Julie proudly serves on the Board of the Banff Forum and the University Club of Montreal. She was previously on the Boards of Lakeshore General Hospital and Cheerleading Quebec. For over a decade, she volunteered for AMCAL Family Services, the YMCA and The Becket Players, a federally chartered, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the performing arts in Montreal’s West Island.

Tags:  Achievements  Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100  female leaders  strong women  stronger together  Top 100  Top 100 Awards  Top 100 Winner  Top 100 Winners  Women  Women in Leadership  Women Leaders  Women Leadership 

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