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From Exclusion to Inclusion

Women's rise in Calgary's energy hub

CWiE presenting $155,000 donation to WBF.

In the world of energy, Calgary stands as a bustling hub, historically dominated by male figures. However, a significant shift is underway, with the emergence of organizations like Calgary Women in Energy (CWiE) and Axis Connects, which focus on empowering women and transforming the landscape of the industry. These organizations are reshaping the narrative, drawing attention to the pivotal role of women in energy and the critical need for diverse representation and support within this traditionally male-dominated sector.

CWiE provides a pillar of support and empowerment to women in energy. Established in 2002, CWiE is a non-profit organization with a comprehensive approach focusing on philanthropy, education and networking. The organization is a testament to solidarity and collective growth. Its impact extends to raising substantial amounts for local charities ($1M raised to date), fostering conversations around gender equity and providing a supportive network for women within the industry.

Shauna Holmes is the president of CWiE and the business development and marketing lead at Artic Therm. She underscores the importance of diversity in energy and the CWiE’s commitment to mentoring individuals at varying career levels.

Holmes says, “Diversity in energy is powerful. I believe in the power of mentorship, whether an individual is new in their career or more senior. Mentoring up and down is a very valuable exercise.”

Calgary-based Axis Connects is led by a group of women and men who understand the value diverse leadership brings to businesses and the community. It offers an array of programs and events designed to bolster women’s presence and influence in the energy sector.

Executive director Amber Griffith says, “Axis Connects offers a variety of programming and events including monthly Career Development workshops, Lunch with a Leader program (intimate mentoring round table sessions) and an annual Leadership Forum, which is a one-day summit that supports professional development and networking for women. What makes Axis Connects unique is that our programming is applicable to professionals in all sectors including the energy sector and helps to broaden their networks.”

While the energy sector is still largely dominated by men, women in energy can also benefit from building allyships with their male counterparts. Max Chan, senior vice president and corporate development officer at Enbridge, emphasizes the importance of diversity in the workforce. He underlines that enhancing diversity, particularly the representation of women in the energy sector, fosters better organizations, brings in a diverse set of talents, ideas and leaders, and thereby contributes to overall success.

Chan speaks confidently of the transformation he has personally witnessed within his team at Enbridge, highlighting the shift from a largely male-dominated group to one where nearly 40 per cent are now women. This transformation, spearheaded by accomplished women in leadership roles, has proven that success breeds success and serves as an inspiration for other women to consider and thrive in fields traditionally dominated by men.

“Today, we have a number of women in our group at various levels with backgrounds ranging from sciences to engineering to finance. It’s not complicated, but it takes conviction and courage to build a good, well-balanced and represented team. The Corporate Development team at Enbridge is an amazing group. Not that long ago, we had all of two women on the team.”

Chan adds, “The M&A and Corporate Finance disciplines have long been male-dominated areas, and I believe the success our group has had demonstrates that this doesn’t have to be the case. Seeing other women thriving in this field has really helped inspire many others to consider this area and industry as a real career option.”

Korrina Warners is manager of marketing and communications at Strike Group, a company that provides energy and industrial construction and maintenance services across Canada. With a background in construction and a diverse range of educational qualifications, including an Executive MBA, she has experienced rapid career advancement from an administrator to a management role within a decade. She says her involvement with CWiE contributed to her growth and stemmed from a quest to expand her network post-MBA.

“When I attended my first CWiE event, I immediately felt welcomed and included and was impressed by the quality of information I learned at their Technical Session. The first event I attended was led by an engineer who discussed the construction of oil storage tanks, of which I had no prior knowledge, but by the end of the session, I felt like I had the confidence to have an educated discussion around that topic.”

When it comes to advice for other women in energy, Warners says, “Be yourself and lean into the many female strengths that you possess. I encourage all women to lead with empathy, be vulnerable, excel at multi-tasking and be strong communicators. In male-dominated industries, women supporting other women is crucial for our success. When one of us succeeds, we all succeed.”

Warners hopes that other women will consider careers in the energy industry for its financial stability and opportunities for growth.

As women continue to carve their paths in Calgary’s energy sector, organizations like CWiE and Axis Connects play an instrumental role in reshaping the industry’s narrative. The collective efforts of these groups inspire future generations of women to lead, succeed and make a lasting impact in the energy sector.


Empowering brighter futures
The Impact of CWiE’s Support for Women Building Futures

In the heart of Edmonton, a beacon of hope and transformation stands tall, shaping destinies and altering the course of countless lives. Founded in 1998, Women Building Futures (WBF) is a non-profit organization that has been instrumental in rewriting the narratives of women who face unemployment and underemployment. Their commitment to empowering women through education, training and support services has established them as a vanguard of change and progress in the region.

The core mission of WBF is to provide a pathway for women to attain economic security in fields where they are traditionally underrepresented. From the very outset, the organization aimed to address the systemic barriers that hindered women from achieving financial independence.

Thanks to an impressive and generous donation of $155,000 from Calgary Women in Energy (CWiE), WBF can further its mission and growth within the region.

Carol Moen is the president and CEO of WBF and says, “Our ability to grow our impact is very important. This money from CWiE will provide us with some flexibility to try some things and build that future, so we’re really excited about that.”

WBF is fortunate to have passionate individuals lead the organization and make a positive change in the world. After an illustrious 26-year career in the petrochemical industry with Dow Chemical, Moen retired in 2017. However, she says, “I was missing leadership and missing purpose. In 2019, the opportunity to lead Women Building Futures landed in my inbox and reflected on where I was at in my career and what I felt was important, which in my mind is helping those that are coming behind me. I’ve been in this role now for four years and it’s really made me a much better person.”

“I am so grateful for having this connection to CWiE. They bring women together to develop themselves both as people and professionals. They’re stronger together and they know and celebrate that together. And while they do that, they also want to give back, which is what women want to do,” says Moen.

She adds, “Our WBF model is very similar to CWiE’s even though we are serving a different demographic of women. But the theory on which CWiE is basing their networking and personal and professional development is incredibly synergistic with the approach that WBF uses to support unemployed and underemployed women. The partnership has been remarkable.”

CWiE president Shauna Holmes is proud to support and be connected to WBF. “The donation to WBF provides hope, enriches lives and continues to empower women.