Is this how you feel once your day has started?
How about by the end of your day?
About three years ago, I was in a terrible frame of mind - every day. Significant changes had been occurring at work, and at home, I had no idea what would be expected of me next, and I felt I had no control of any of these situations. So I woke up one morning, and said enough.
I quit my job and took some much needed down-time. I spent yet more time re-grouping and analyzing my career, my experiences, and my passions and ambitions in life. I was lucky enough to do this with the support of my spouse, who had a safe and reliable source of income to keep us going. It also allowed me to spend tremendously more time with my kids, who are growing up way too fast!
During that time of reflection, I realized many things.
I remembered again that I loved what I had been doing for the past several years - driving and leading change in the industrial realm, working to educate, engage and assist project and operational teams to alter their plans, designs, and processes. To ensure safer, cleaner, less resource-intensive methods of development and production, and to ensure higher levels of environmental protection, prevention of future contamination risks, and quicker recovery of disturbed lands.
In my last article, I indicated just how much of a challenge some of this work really is. And it has been a challenge for much of my career. So it begs the question - why do I do this? Why am I writing about this, and why am I sharing this with you?
Let’s start with the why I am writing and sharing my story with you. I feel this is three-fold:
- I’d like for you to understand what I’m all about, what interests, inspires, and drives me.
- I’d like to invite you to support me in my endeavours, in whichever way that you might - be it to like, or share my message, to explore working with me, or even just to give me some constructive feedback - perhaps you disagree and I can learn something new from you (this always happen, I find).
- I’ve been challenged to do so. You seen, this blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 2 - and I’m not one to give up on a challenge very often...
So let’s get to the why of what I do, which may be a bit more lengthy.
That part about freedom? For me, that’s a nice to have for now, although in running my own business, I have some flexibility in when I do my work, so that I can get my kids off to school and be home for them when they are done, to take mid-day breaks, and run errands as I please. In the long run, I do hope to be able to choose how much I work, as well as provide that same level of freedom to my spouse. Maybe we could even live wherever we want and move around if we so choose. But that is later.
What is more of a drive for me is this. I have been working in industry for 20 years now, over which time I’ve seen a few things shift. The awareness and outcry of our non-industry stakeholders of the need for environmental protection, and the response by regulators and industry alike, to step up their game, to develop and abide by standards designed to reduce risks and impacts to people and the environment.
A lot of people may not agree with this statement, but in reality the sector has moved towards acting much more responsibly than one might believe - and they are monitored quite closely by regulators too. I can say this because I know it to be true - much of my earlier career was spent working in the waste management area, monitoring construction and performance of waste containment facilities, and looking for solutions when challenges began to appear.
The mining industry is much more aware of the impacts it can incur, and they work very hard to prevent these risks (and not just because they have to - honest.)
I’ve seen a much greater awareness and activities for all things safety, throughout the sector, as has been the case for most industrial sectors. But another thing I have seen a massive shift in, and a continuation of change continues, is with respect to external stakeholder engagement.
Working with local communities around proposed and operating developments - to determine what their concerns are, to determine what supports they may need within their communities, to provide education, training and more so that the residents may be able to obtain jobs both with the development (if they so desire), and to bring economic prosperity to the local region.
For me, I’d like to see much more of this, and I know it is possible - proactive environmental protection and inclusive decision making with local stakeholders.
It isn’t yet common practice everywhere within the sector, or around the globe - the sector is still learning - and every location is unique in what is required for a win-win situation. After working this long, I am aware of the types of risks that exist, how we might prevent and mitigate them, and of the processes that require adjustment to make such changes seem natural - part of the everyday process.
I’d like also to see much more value derived from the developments we initiate. If we are going to disrupt a natural area, altering the ecosystem within its space, we should ensure we’ve extracted the greatest value from that disruption. And we should do our best to minimize what that disruption is, both during development and operations, and after we are gone too.
I believe that all of this is possible, for there have seen significant, positive shifts in other industrial practices during my lifetime. I grew up, after all, in the heart of the Clayoquot Sound region, in the heart of long-ago clear-cutting practices (and all the protests that went with that).
I grew up in a sleepy pulp and paper, raw lumber producing community - and yes, protests eventually brought changes, and those created significant impacts to the local economy for a while - but then it recovered. People and business adapted - with more value-added products, with processing and conversion of wastes into new products, with the production of recycled-content materials too.
And you know what?
In the end, it was better for business, better for the environment, and for all of us living there too - breathing cleaner air, and having access to cleaner water. It brought more tourism to the region, more appreciation of the natural spaces in which we lived.
People understand this more now. With the awareness of climate change, they are starting to understand how critical our natural environment is for our survival, for our future generations. And I want my children to have a resource-filled, healthy environment in which to raise their families as well.
Change is occurring everywhere right now, with people becoming more vocal in their opposition to things that put them and/or the environment at risk. And businesses are responding - particularly in the manufacturing of consumer goods. If you haven’t heard of the circular economy, and noticed how many products are now “green”, contain recycled content, highlight how much more efficient their processes are now, or have minimal packaging, you’ve been living under a rock.
It’s time for the upstream industrial sectors to get on board and do the same. And if they are proactive and start to make changes now, and introduce them gradually, it becomes much easier to implement, much less impactful on the economic bottom line during transition. And we all know what happens to laggards too - often these are the companies that disappear.
I’m here to help make transitions, to educate leaders and teams to do so, and to see positive end results.
That’s what gets me out of bed every day! Do you have a reason?