Thirty-four-year-old chemical engineer Ada Fong believes oil and gas will continue to be crucial as the world’s energy mix transforms to reduce emissions. And she wants to encourage the next generation of future leaders to pursue a career in energy and do their part to fuel that transformation.
“We need all forms of energy, especially responsibly produced oil and gas,” says Fong, who chairs the Society of Petroleum Engineers Young Professionals (SPE YP) committee and will soon take on the role as chair of the SPE’s Calgary section.
Once thinking she might end up working in veterinary medicine, an influence she says comes from her family, Fong initially had no idea what a job in the energy industry would entail.
Based in Calgary, Alberta, Fong immigrated from Hong Kong when she was five years old and is currently a senior site operations process engineer for Cenovus Energy at its Christina Lake oil sands facility.
She is proud of working in the industry and believes it is resilient and on the leading edge of innovation to produce sustainable oil and gas. She is equally proud of those working in the industry, from rig hands to engineers, for being always ready to tackle those challenges.
Though traditionally a male-dominated industry, as a woman, she has always felt welcome.
“I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with mentors and peers -male and female- empowering me to fulfill my potential and helping me gain the skills and knowledge to grow and advance in my career,” she says.
Fong says for any junior employee, keeping an open mind, having good work ethic, and bringing positive energy and value to a team is a surefire way to feel at home in a new job. There are also many young professional groups and internal company programs and clubs out there that offer support.
Fong credits her education as a chemical engineering student at the University of Calgary and participation in extra-curricular activities with the Engineering Student’s Society and Petroleum and Energy Society. One event in particular convinced her to pursue a career in the energy industry.
“One of the more memorable events that I was involved in the planning of was the inaugural Alberta Student Energy Conference,” she says.
“Aside from the excitement of putting on this conference for the first time alongside a team of eager volunteers, I remember the event being filled with very inspirational speakers and very interesting breakout sessions. This event sparked my initial interest to join the workforce within the energy industry.”
Since then, Fong has been a strong advocate for young Canadians to become more involved in the energy industry. She has been with the SPE YP committee for five years. Starting off as a sponsorship lead, she has been the organization’s chair for the last two years.
Many energy-focused young professional groups are headed by women, and Fong is encouraged about the future of leadership in the industry.
“I love to continue seeing women stepping up to lead,” she says. “Keeping in mind that you don’t have to be in a leadership position or have the ‘title’ to lead.”
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