Shauna Holmes came into the oil patch the way many in Calgary do: by happenstance. At a friend’s dinner party, she met someone from an oil-and-gas services company who thought Shauna would be great working in the company’s marketing department. Shauna took the job and has never looked back.
Eleven years later, Shauna proudly supports Canadian oil and natural gas, and works to educate her community and the public about the benefits of the petroleum sector.
An avid paddle boarder (with her spaniel puppy hitching rides), hiker and skier, Shauna hails originally from Smithers, British Columbia. She grew up with little exposure to the oil and natural gas industry. She notes that even now there isn’t always a lot of understanding about her industry and how vital it is to Canada’s economic wellbeing.
“There’s a stigma that if you’re part of the oil and gas industry, you’re part of the dirty tar sands,” she says. “I am an advocate for the industry so that people don’t have that negative stigma associated with them.”
Shauna likes to help others understand how the oil and gas industry benefits all Canadians, not just producers and developers. She talks about the products made from oil and gas, like plastic, fleece and fuel for cars and airplanes, as well as the role consumers play in creating energy demand. She also talks about the great jobs the industry creates that span numerous sectors across the country.
Shauna is particularly engaged in helping her female friends understand more about the industry. “When I talk with my friends who aren’t in the industry, I try to explain the benefits of this sector and really help spread the word and educate people to provide a balanced perspective,” Shauna says.
Shauna also strives to help women working within the industry in Calgary learn more about oil and natural gas, share their experiences and feel supported. In 2012, Shauna joined a group called Calgary Women in Energy (CWIE). The 100-member-strong group attracts women of diverse backgrounds who work in the industry, providing professional development, volunteering and networking opportunities.
"When I talk with my friends who aren’t in the industry, I try to explain the benefits of this sector and really help spread the word and educate people to provide a balanced perspective."
Shauna, now co-director of membership for CWIE, originally joined the group to network and make contacts after getting her marketing and business administration degree at Mount Royal University. But today she says she enjoys the technical meetings and guest speakers the group organizes to help women in the industry increase their knowledge on a range of different aspects of the oil and gas sector. Shauna also enjoys the opportunity to give back to the community; CWIE regularly holds events to raise money and recruit volunteers for charitable organizations in the city.
Shauna encourages other young women to get involved in the dynamic Canadian oil and natural gas industry. It’s a great industry to work in, she says, and one doesn’t have to be an engineer or project manager to get exposed to the innovative technologies being used or to learn more about how this vibrant business works.
“My days are never the same – some days I am in the office, and some days I may be on site and it’s great,” she says. At first you can sometimes feel intimidated, but it is like anything else that the longer you do it the more familiar it becomes,.” Shauna adds, “There are female welders, there are female pipeliners. The industry is moving forward.”