At J.D. Irving, Limited we are proud to have more than 4,000 women working across our diverse organizations. From building the next fleet of Canadian Navy ships to running tissue making machines, women continue to be an integral part of our businesses success and are paving the way for many more women to follow in their footsteps.
We recently reached out to a variety of women across our businesses to hear their career journey and advice.
Tara Coleman has been with JDI for 4.5 years, holding various positions over the course of her career such as Harvesting Supervisor, Newcomer Settlement Officer, Trucking Supervisor and most recently Woodlands Facilities and Property Manager.
"I see a lot of men realizing there is a real role for women to play in the Forestry industry. We bring a different skill set, perhaps a listening or communication skill. We look at problems differently and having another perspective can help solve the problems. Diverse workforces are more successful, and everyone benefits from workplaces that are inclusive. Gender equality is important in all areas of life, but especially important in an industry that has always been male dominated."
"My advice to a young female considering whether or not to go for a non-traditional role would be to get out of your own head. I was my worst enemy in creating a fear of entering the Forestry industry. I think the most important thing is to set yourself up with good mentors and for me that has been the most important part of being successful in the industry. JDI provided me with people who taught me, educated me and advocated for me."
Chrissy Cusack started with JDI in 2018, having various positions such as Interpretation Guide at the Irving Nature Park, working with Woodlands operations in the winter and most currently working as the Park Manager at the Irving Nature Park!
"I believe that productivity is at its best when teams have been built with diversity. Passion for the same role or industry can come from males and females, all with individual strengths and weaknesses. Unconscious bias can sometimes happen when pursuing a passion for work in non-traditional fields, most of it being unconscious. If we are truly engaged in the field we choose, are qualified and want to learn, we need to share our strengths and acknowledge our weaknesses!"
"My advice to someone considering a role that is particularly male-dominated would be to just go for it. Women shy away from putting themselves forward because of a lack of confidence coming into a traditionally male working environment. By switching focus and finding mentors that can help us, we will feel more confident and team members will in turn feel more confident with us."
Jessica Madia recently started with the JDI Moncton Group in a new role as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion. With a Bachelor of Commerce from Mount Allison University she brings valuable knowledge and experience in helping us build awareness and understanding around creating an inclusive environment for a positive employee experience.
“There are plenty of studies that have proven diversity is good for business from improved financial performance and employee engagement, better employee attraction and retention to increased innovation and productivity. That said, we cannot begin to realize the full potential of diversity unless we have created a safe environment that encourages people to be their authentic selves at work. A culture of belonging, where everyone feels they can thrive and contribute fully is critical to a great employee experience.”
“I have had the privilege of learning from many strong leaders (both male and female) throughout my career, but there have been two strong consistent Mentors that I have stayed connected to. These women, now both Chief Human Resources Officers have sponsored me, challenged me, supported, and guided me throughout the many milestones of my career. What makes these women inspiring is that they both had to go outside their comfort zone to achieve what they have created for themselves today. It is important to have people that you can look up to, people you can reach out to for advice and support.”
Sima Eskandari, Director of Organizational Development joined the JDI Moncton Group in 2019 after moving from Tehran, Iran. With a Master of Science in Business Administration she brings a wealth of knowledge to our operations to help develop strategies on how to build capabilities in our organization and in our people to achieve greater effectiveness and meet our vision.
“Diversity brings synergy to the organizations. We can create a positive, inclusive workplace culture by welcoming individuals from all backgrounds and embracing their differences. Encouraging employees to share their ideas with the rest of the team helps promote inclusivity.”
Monica Fraser, Acting TM1 Superintendent at Irving Tissue in Saint John has been with JDI for more than 12 years. As Acting Superintendent Monica works with operators to troubleshoot operational and quality issues on both a daily and long-term basis. Coaching supervisors on best practices to increase quality production in a safe and efficient manner. With a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of New Brunswick, Monica began working with JDI as a student in Silviculture Payroll and has now worked her way up to be the only female Superintendent.
“One thing we often say at our mill is 'Get us together in a room, there aren’t a lot of problems we can’t solve.' This philosophy is all about getting the right people in the room. Increasing diversity in the workplace can help make sure you have the right members for your team.”
“When you bring people together with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives then we can learn together, and all become stronger. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during my career is to get to know the people you are working with, build those relationships and draw on each other’s strengths.”
Emily Morgan, Associate Process Engineer at Lake Utopia Paper in St. George recently join the team. Her JDI journey began as a student at Irving Pulp & Paper and Irving Paper. In both roles, it helped to provide her with technical support to operations and environmental departments through process improvement projects. The experience she gained as a student helped her land a full-time position after graduation from the University of New Brunswick,
Emily’s current role focuses on monitoring and driving the quality of our products to meet the requirements of our customers. She supervises the quality lab which performs testing to ensure the quality of our process.
“I see diversity contributing to making our teams stronger. Diversity within our group brings varying perspectives that help us solve problems more effectively.”
Heather Tait is a Senior Corporate Paralegal & Trademark Administrator has been with JDI for 12 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Law and Psychology from the University of New Brunswick. In April 2020 she was one of four in Canada to receive her professional designation as a Trademark Administrator, achieving 98% on the exam..
“Before coming to JDI, I was looking for an opportunity to grow my career and was open to learning different areas of law. My legal background was in corporate law, but I always had an interest in intellectual property. In 2010 when our trademark paralegal retired, I expressed an interest in being trained in this field. JDI’s support has been an integral part of my career. I am surrounded by a team of people who mentor and encourage me to be my best.”
“I think it’s very easy to believe 'we can’t' and just give up. Part of the journey in our successful lives, is in our struggles that take us there. I think the most important thing you can do is to believe in the “power of you”. Work as hard as you can and tell yourself you can do anything you put your mind to. When you get overwhelmed just pause and say to yourself... What if?"
Ashlyn Moody is a Maintenance Planner at Grand Lake Timber. She began at JDI as an engineering student with the University of New Brunswick before being hired on full-time into the Maintenance Planner role.
“Having women in a male dominated environment – whether it be forestry, engineering, or trades – is incredibly important on both an individual and organizational level. The most successful teams are the ones which provide a variety of different skills, experiences, and approaches to problem solving, as they allow us to consider many aspects of a given challenge.”
Marie-Josee Therrien is the HR Manager for Northern New Brunswick Sawmills. When Marie-Josee joined JDI she was given a variety of leadership positions, which lead her to become HR Manager.
“I was fortunate to be promoted quickly and found myself to be the only woman in the room for many meetings, but my goal is to stay focused on the things within my control and drive results. My suggestion to future women is do not be afraid to voice your opinion, be authentic, believe in yourself and know that you own your career success.”
Natalie Urquhart, Director of Finance for the Sawmills Division has been with JDI for more than 24 years. During this time, she had moved from JDI Finance, to working in the field at one of our sawmill locations, to her current leadership position.
“Over the years, JDI has supported my professional growth by permitting me to complete a CPA designation and more recently, an executive MBA. Today, I am proud to lead teams of talented professionals in finance, analytics, and sales.”
“In building a successful career, it is important to be passionate about the business, to trust your creativity and problem-solving skills while being a vocal contributor to the team. I am fortunate to have worked with a lot of supportive people that have mentored me and supported me throughout my career.”
Laura Bostwick is a Project Manager for Gulf Operators. She started her career with JDI more than 2 years ago.
“It’s important to have women, as well as other individuals who might be a minority in various fields, as it brings a diversity of perspective. The ideas and experiences that women can bring to the table can result in a wider range of skills and opinions, as well as different means of problem-solving.”
Kaitlyn Parker joined Irving Equipment in July of 2020 as an HR Business Partner. As she continues to grow as an HR professional, she aspires to shift organizational cultures to better enable operational success.
“To ensure that we at JDI are continuing to provide highly innovative and original solutions to the marketplace our workforce must be diverse. It is crucial that our business includes individuals who bring a wide variety of perspective and experience to each discussion.”
At KENT we support all women who regularly challenge the norm, raise their hands, and pave the way for inclusion. Today and every day, we celebrate you! Show your support of #IWD2021 by striking the pose, raise your hand and actively #ChoosetoChallenge.
Ayisha Corey, Director of Distribution
“I’ve always considered part of my role to change people’s mental constructs (unconscious and conscious biases) regarding the capabilities of women and others who are underrepresented. The strongest teams with the best results are those who embrace thought diversity.”
Sabrina Ferris, Store Manager at the KENT Fredericton South, NB
“I believe that as an organization we are on the right track to breaking through the traditions of a male dominated industry. Our box stores are run equally by men and women. We are giving the women in our company the platform and opportunity to promote their stories. More people raising their hand will continue to attract a higher caliber of candidate. These steps allow people to see what KENT has to offer them. I am very proud to work for KENT.”
Jill Spindler, Interior Sales Specialist – Contractor Sales
“It’s nice to see the construction industry start to normalize the presence of a woman on a job site and in the office. The more job sites I visit, the more women I see working different trades. This makes me very proud to do what I do and to work for a company that is willing to give a woman the same opportunities.”
Recent years have seen a major push within the Transportation & Logistics Division of JDI to create more opportunities for women working in the transportation sector, and to support women already working to network and grow their careers. With the global pandemic, many of these initiatives had to pivot quickly; but, we're pleased to report most activities and programming went ahead with COVID-aware protocols.
We acknowledge that many jobs in the transportation sector have traditionally been held by men. But, over the last 20 years, we have seen many trailblazers across our businesses - women who have set a precedent and have become role models for future generations of girls who love the road, rails and seas.
An Atlantic Towing all-female tug crew stationed in Halifax, NS earned national news coverage in 2018 when it was formed spontaneously. The company's crewing team noticed that, by chance, a female tug master (captain), chief engineer and deckhand had all been scheduled to work a shift aboard the Atlantic Willow together. When the team did some digging, they realized it was a first, not just for the company, but for Nova Scotia! To celebrate this milestone, we brought the crew (Andrea MacDonald, Kelsie MacLean and Jocelyn Smith) back together late in 2019 to film a special episode of CBC's "Land and Sea," celebrating female mariners and their legacies. We were able to add a fourth female crew member (deckhand, Nita Duguay) during filming, to escort the film crew around. The episode aired in early 2020 and was received with praise!
Andrea MacDonald, in addition to being Atlantic Towing's first female tug captain, and member of that all-female tug crew, also volunteers as a mentor with Techsploration Nova Scotia - a group dedicated to empowering girls to learn more about STEM, and explore non-traditional career opportunities. For years (excluding 2020 due to pandemic reasons), Andrea took cohorts of middle school students on a tour of whichever tug she was stationed on as part of Techsploration's annual programming. Irving Shipyard is also a sponsor of Technsploration NS.
At Universal Truck and Trailer and NBM Railways, STEPW participants continue to thrive and move forward in their apprenticeship blocks. Launched in 2019, the STEPW program is an initiative aiming to reskill women currently in the workplace - working with candidates and partner-organizations to identify areas of interest and find placements for these women to apprentice in a skilled trade. In their own words:
Kayla DeBow, Truck and Trailer Apprentice, UTT:
“The STEPW program was an excellent program for me. It gave me the opportunity to really get me hands on the tools and get experiences with the different trades before stepping in the shop for the first time. Coming into the shop on my first day, I was a lot more comfortable and less intimidated than I would have been just coming in off the street.”
Businesses in the Transportation and Logistics Division continue to receive national recognition for their work in inclusion, gender and employment equity.
• RST Sunbury received a Employment Equity Achievement Award in the "Sector Distinction" category, as well as its third Trucking HR Canada "Top Fleet Employer" Award, and a diversity award from the Trucking HR Sector Council Atlantic.
• Atlantic Towing received its second Employment Equity Achievement Award in 2020.
And in addition, a female leader was also recognized in 2020 for her work in making her business more welcoming to women. Stacey Miller, Director of HR with RST Sunbury, was a recipient of the Trucking HR Sector Council's "Women Who Inspire" Award. On receiving her recognition, Stacey wrote:
“It's incredibly humbling to be recognized as a Woman Who Inspires," writes Miller, "Working as an HR Leader in trucking is by far the most complex, challenging and personally fulfilling role I have ever undertaken. Every day I can make an impact, and let me tell you, it’s an incredible feeling to witness the transformation.
"I work with the best transportation professionals and a senior leadership team who have my back; they embrace my creativity, and sincerely want to see women in transportation thrive.”
Audra McCreesh is Manager of Industrial Participation at Irving Shipbuilding (ISI). She earned a bachelors degree in Business Administration with a minor in French language and settled in Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia before joining ISI nearly four years ago.
As a part of the Industrial Technology Benefits (ITB) team, Audra supports the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) and Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC) programs with meeting ITB commitments under the National Shipbuilding Strategy, including a commitment to employment equity.
"I have been part of an evolving Diversity, Equity and Inclusion strategy steering group within ISI. When I started in Human Resources, the ‘Women Unlimited’ Pathways to Shipbuilding program had recently concluded. This was a cohort of diverse women who were supported by the Irving Shipbuilding Centre of Excellence to obtain their trades diploma to become welders at Halifax Shipyard. I quickly became involved in facilitating the Indigenous Pathways to Shipbuilding program that was underway and led planning and support for the subsequent Pathways to Shipbuilding program for African Nova Scotians."
"Choosing to challenge is the very first step in a chain of events. You are choosing to let someone hear your voice and showing strength and vulnerability at the same time – which can inspire others to do the same. If something is worth challenging, it should have a positive impact on as many people as possible and become an opportunity to improve an environment or someone's state of mind. In my experience, I have challenged the way we connect people, processes, and environments together to make them better for the whole."
"If anyone is uncomfortable with change, bring that feeling to the forefront and try to understand what that fear may be about. Just as someone has been courageous enough to stand up and challenge the status quo, be brave enough to face your fear."
We're committed to growing the diversity of our team and we are currently hiring in Canada and the US. https://careers.jdirving.com/
As we recruit the workforce of the future, we are also working with great partners at local universities and community colleges. We are reaching out with co-op programs, case competitions, scholarships, and career fairs.
Are you a new grad looking to start your career? Visit http://students.jdirving.com/recent-graduates/ to learn how you can grow with JDI.