At J.D. Irving, Limited we are proud to have more than 4,500 women working across our diverse organizations. From building the next fleet of Canadian Navy ships to recruiting talent internationally these women continue to pave the way for women in a variety of industries and be an integral part of our businesses success.
We recently sat down with a variety of women in our businesses to hear their stories.
Building Ships for Canada
As Director of Engineering at Irving Shipbuilding, Nancy Lochhead oversees engineering teams on the Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ship (AOPS) program. The role is well-suited to her technical knowledge, commitment to communication and authentic leadership style.
First joining Fleetway in 2004, Nancy held various roles within the company before moving to Irving Shipbuilding in 2017 as Design Manager, going on to become Director of Engineering in 2019.
Nancy attributes much of her success to her work ethic and the desire to constantly improve – and that’s exactly how she feels it should be.
“My approach has always been to be the hardest worker. Know your work, be your best, focus on your outcomes. Through my career here, I haven’t faced barriers because I’m a woman, and for that I feel thankful. I believe a man with the same qualifications would have taken the same path. To me that’s equity,” Nancy says.
Still, as a female director in a traditionally male-dominated field and industry, Nancy is proud that her career shows a path for other women within Irving Shipbuilding.
“I hope they can see that I started in the exact same roles they did, worked hard and was able to see my career progress because of that,” she says.
Nancy’s leadership is recognized across Irving Shipbuilding, with both men and women often seeking her out for mentorship. She notes that she benefited from managers who recognized and supported her desire to take on challenges and stretch roles. She strives to do the same for her teams.
While it’s hard to pick a favourite highlight of her career to date, two stand out to Nancy: the day the lead AOPS, the future HMCS Harry DeWolf, began Builder’s Trials, leaving Halifax Shipyard under her own power; and the day it was announced Irving Shipbuilding had won the combat contract under the National Shipbuilding Strategy. In 2011 - the largest shipbuilding contract in Canadian history.
Nancy describes the National Shipbuilding Strategy - Canada's decision to build ships for Canada by Canadians- as a turning point for shipbuilders across the country, explaining that the stability created opportunities for the entire generation of shipbuilders to have long, meaningful careers at home.
It’s that stability that has allowed Irving Shipbuilding to invest significantly in facilities, people, processes and technology, developing strong leaders like Nancy.
Looking forward, Nancy is proud to be building ships for Canada, noting that the innovative nature of shipbuilding continues to inspire her. “I love when we have to push to meet a challenge,” she says. “That feeling of solving a difficult task really drives me.”
Paving the way for Female Leaders in Home Improvement
In 2003, after retiring from a 31-year career as a corporate senior manager in Telecommunications, Brenda Power was looking for personal growth and found it in retail at the newly built Kent Building Supplies located in Rothesay, New Brunswick. With little retail experience, she began in merchandising for the store opening. Seeing potential, her manager assigned her to the Project Centre to assist customers with their project needs.
With the home improvement industry traditionally attracting men, it was not a surprise that Brenda’s new co-workers were male. The men at the Project Centre were very supportive of their new colleague and were great mentors for Brenda. She was a quick study and surpassed her sales goals in her very first year.
Seeing the commitment that Brenda had in her role, the Kent’s General Manager and approached Brenda to consider taking on the role of Store Manager. She happily accepted and became the second female Kent Store Manager and launching a career that would see her achieve two significant sales milestones in her three-year tenure. There are now 46 female Store Managers and Assistant Store Managers at Kent.
Brenda found success in all her roles by believing that people will see your strengths and you can make positive change by taking on challenges and embracing the opportunity to improve. Her method as store manager is to focus on people and engaging the team whose efforts are vital to accomplishing goals.
In 2009 the role of Corporate Training Manager was introduced at Kent. Brenda was asked once again by senior leaders to fill the role and she was happy to accept yet another new challenge. Since starting that role in 2009 Brenda has seen close to 200 next generation leaders graduate from the Management Development Program that she created, many of many of whom now occupy management positions at Kent.
Having limited retail experience had its benefits says Brenda. “By not knowing what to fear about the business, I didn’t fear anything. I was open to the challenge and learning with each new team.” Since beginning her 16-year career at Kent, Brenda has had the opportunity to support other females in the company, opening doors and paving the way for more female leaders in the home improvement industry across Atlantic Canada.
Leading the Way for Women in Power Engineering
Krista Parker, a Steam Plant Operator from St. Andrews, New Brunswick has just received her First-Class Power Engineering license. S he is one of only 96 people with a First-Class license in New Brunswick. Currently, out of those 96, Krista is the ONLY female to receive her First-Class.
In 2010, Krista graduated from NBCC with her Third-Class Power Engineering license. After completing a 6-week work-term at Lake Utopia Paper in St. George she was hired on full-time.
Her journey to becoming a power engineer began more than 15 years ago during Take Your Kids to Work Day.
“In 2004, for take your kid to work day, I went with my grandmother to Point Lepreau Generating Station. It was an excellent tour and eye opener to employment in an industrial setting. While I was there that day, I followed a Power Engineer. She showed me what her typical day consisted of and when asked, she told me that her strong classes in school were math and science, which were also my strong areas. I found the industrial setting and her day to day work interesting and something that I could see myself doing for a career. In the fall of 2007, I applied to the Power Engineering Technology program at NBCC.”
For the last 9 years, she has worked tirelessly towards her goal of becoming a First-Class Power Engineer.
“A lot of studying and exams has gone into this. The short answer is that it takes 8 three-hour exams plus 6 years of related practical experience in the field to obtain your first-class license. The company supported me every step of the way.”
When asked how it feels to be the first female in New Brunswick to obtain a first-class license her response is “unreal”.
“I still cannot believe that I am the only female. It wasn’t something I even thought about while writing my First-Class. I wrote it to challenge myself and to further my education. When I found out that not only was I, one in 96 First Class Power Engineers in New Brunswick but also the first female, I was shocked, and still am.”
Skilled Trades Exploration Program for Women
Chelsea Savoie, Welding Apprentice and Jean MacDonald, Electrician Apprentice are both working for NBM Railways after their completion of the Skilled Trades Exploration Program for Women (STEPW).
STEPW is a partnership program between J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI), New Boots and the Government of New Brunswick. The focus of the program is on upskilling women in trades. After completing the program, the new graduates start work immediately at better paying jobs that J.D. Irving, Limited has guaranteed. This effort builds on the successful program pioneered by JDI at the Halifax Shipyard in partnership with Women Unlimited.
“My Experience personally with STEPW was great, I have so much gratitude for that program. I honestly cannot wait until they do it again in Saint John. I have gained some lifelong friendships as well,” said Chelsea.
When asked how we can encourage more women to go for a career in skilled trades Chelsea said, “I think we have already encouraged it. Through STEPW alone there are so many women interested in it, being able to try different trades would interest anyone, even men have said that they would have loved to be able to do that. But just women alone talking to women about their experience will spark an interest!”
For Jean MacDonald her end goal is set on obtaining her Red Seal, “My whole goal and plan is to work toward my Red Seal however, I'm still just starting out so I'm taking it block by block and trying not to get ahead of myself. I really look forward to the day I get my Red Seal and can call myself an Electrician.”
For 2020, J.D. Irving, Limited looks forward to participating in the next STEPW program happening in northern New Brunswick with CCNB.
Hiring the Talent of Tomorrow
Susan Wilson, Director of Immigration, has been with JDI for more than 11 years. Susan leads the company's Centre of Excellence for Immigration. In this role, Susan supports all JDI businesses in filling workforces needs where they have not been able to recruit Canadian candidates. From the immigration process, newcomer settlement, ad arrival and integration into their new community – Susan works with her to team to manage it all.
“I am fortunate to have been asked to take on this role, which was a new role for JDI. It is exciting to build a new foundation and capability for the company that will help our businesses to meet our workforce needs for the future. Immigration is a growing field, and it is changing all the time so that is definitely a very interesting part of my role. From a personal standpoint, I have gotten to meet many newcomers who have undertaken a huge personal and professional journey to move to Canada. Learning about their stories, their challenges and their accomplishments is very humbling and very impressive.”
Making Canada Home
Sheryl Galorport, Procurement Analyst with our Information Technology (IT) team will soon be transition to the Telecommunications Lead for IT. In 2017, Sheryl decided to immigrate to Canada from Singapore. Months after arriving in Canada she landed a job at JDI.
“I had been working in Singapore for 6 years and always felt the need for a better quality of life for my family, hence, why we immigrated to Canada after we received permanent residency from New Brunswick. Having a background in engineering and manufacturing, we chose an industrial city, Saint John and arrived on Canada Day, July 1, 2017. I joined JDI 2 months after, as a Procurement Analyst who supports and manages all commercial activities.”
Sheryl is in the process of transitioning to the Telecommunications Lead for IT. This role will have her managing voice, data and mobile telecommunications services used daily across JDI businesses.
“Diversity in the workplace provides an opportunity to learn from each other. It also opens the workplace to new perspectives from diverse professional experiences and skills. This triggers engagement between employees and drives a core shared value which is respect. And engagement with respect always drives a positive culture on workplace.”
Into the Woods
Elizabeth Lawson is a Regional Administrator for Central New Brunswick Woodlands. She joined JDI in June of 2017 as an Accountant for Woodlands, where she led several improvements on Forestry accounting, reporting and forecasting. In August 2018, she transferred to be a Regional Administrator, and continues to lead administrative and financial improvements in Chipman, New Brunswick.
Elizabeth leads the payroll and administration team for Central New Brunswick while also overseeing the financial reporting and analysis for the team. This position requires interfacing with frontline supervisors and senior leaders to manage the business cost effectively.
“I really enjoy the people I work with. Having a positive team environment can make all the difference. I feel like an important part of the Chipman team because I am able to bring a specific skill to support senior management and decisions.”
Building the Leaders of Tomorrow
Ame McDonald is an Operations Supervisor at the Truro planer mill. Since 2018, Ame has been actively involved in safety, leadership, and people-building, while working as part of the sawmill team to ensure the best quality lumber is produced for our customers.
“I enjoy learning and improving my leadership skills while also gaining experience in all different management facets of the industry. My favorite thing is using that knowledge and experience in helping others to develop their skill sets and abilities.”
Learning from the Best
Shanna Waye is a Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist for the Construction and Equipment Division. Shanna began with JDI over five years ago in the Transportation and Logistics Division. During this time she has held a variety of positions that have provided her with exposure to the different operations across JDI, and the chance to be inspired by women in the workplace.
“I think that JDI is a perfect example of employing strong women and developing them into future leaders. In my time with JDI, I have been fortunate to be able to work with strong, inspiring women and learn from them, including those in non-traditional roles.”
JDI Women Connect
From within the organization, JDI Women Connect is an employee-based group that is focused on supporting the current and next generation of women realizing their full potential in the workplace.
Over the next three years, JDI is forecasting 6,800 full time hires in Canada and the US. We will also hire over 2,700 students across our diverse operations. 400 of these full-time hires will be skilled trades across all divisions. 81% of these skilled trades jobs are in Atlantic Canada.
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.