Heather Christie-Burns – Women’s Energy Council Interview
Women's Energy Council
Heather Christie-Burns, President and CEO, High Ground Energy Inc.
As part of our Women’s Energy Council, we are conducting interviews with our members to find out what their experiences are of working in the energy sector.
What do you think can be done to make it easier for more women to enter the energy sector at all levels?
I believe that the importance of the work to be done in the energy sector, in total (hydrocarbon and other sources), needs to be communicated effectively at the secondary school level. Women are attracted to work that has a defined purpose, and we are at a critical time of change that requires diverse input to solve issues both locally and globally. We can equip women to participate in the sector by communicating this purpose and providing a vision of where technology and collaboration can take us. Also, we need to share our stories in the industry – both men and women – so that the mysteries and misunderstanding of the sector are better resolved. This will keep women working forward in the industry and encourage them to use their skills to contribute. We are a technology and operations heavy industry – but require strong communicators and problem solvers in areas like finance and human resources to move forward as well. So, even if women are not attracted to careers in STEM, there are other areas that the industry requires support in as well.
In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge with regards to diversity/ equality in the energy industry?
I believe there are capable and appropriate candidates for senior roles in the energy industry who are diverse in background, ethnicity, and gender. The biggest challenge is for the decision makers who are in the senior roles now to identify these individuals and support them in development – putting resources or reputation at risk to do so. When a tipping point occurs, and it is no longer unusual to see women or other minority groups in senior roles, the rest of an organization can more easily reflect that diversity as well.
If you could give one piece of advice to young women who are looking to work in the energy industry, what would it be?
If you are attracted to a career in STEM (Science, Math, Engineering and Technology) energy is a critical sector to put your interests and talents to work. The industry is going through massive change and adoption of new technologies at a rapid rate. Coming into the industry with this training, and coupling it with skills in communications and financial literacy, is a strong combination that women can use to have impact and influence.
(published: October 2018)
Heather is proudly part of the Global Female Influences in Energy by Women’s Energy Council