Sometimes engineering chooses you
Before Teresa Waddington earned her professional engineering designation, she wanted to design mountain bikes and skis. If that didn’t work out, she decided, she would become an engineer—just like her parents, her brother, and her sisters.
“I applied to every bike manufacturer and was rejected by all of them. Shell was my back-up plan. Over my 16-year career with them, I continue to fall more in love with the kind of work you get to do and the impact you make on people’s lives by delivering energy to people, the creative process of designing projects that costs millions and millions of dollars, and the chance to make major decisions that impact an entire country’s energy infrastructure,” she explains.
Sticking to it leads to life-changing opportunities
“In the first part of my career, I became either fascinated and fully enthralled with the work I was doing or I was bored out of my mind doing those career-building tasks that you get new engineers to do,” she remembers. “I completely understand why we lose a lot of people early in their career—they are bored. It can be difficult to keep a fledgling engineer fully topped up with work.”
Waddington was fortunate to have her parents there to guide her through the early years of her career. She continues to pay this forward by taking the time to be a mentor and a leader in every role she takes on. Her dedication to coaching young engineers has not gone unnoticed—she was awarded Mentor of the Year by Oil and Gas U.K. in 2019.
Calculating risks in exchange for career growth
Waddington continues to redefine herself through her work. She continually shifts from technical roles to positions that include more stakeholder engagement and leadership opportunities. As a joint-venture representative, she was the Shell delegate of co-owned, multimillion-dollar energy facilities. As a maintenance manager, she helped lead the logistics of keeping a team of 70 tradespeople safe and getting the facility operational during the Fort McMurray wildfire.
But when she wanted to become a development engineer, the hiring manager said no.
“He looked at my background and the commercial work I’ve done, and he said that I was useless and would never make it. I decided that I didn’t like that advice and convinced them to hire me into the role anyway. I promised that I would quit within six months if it didn’t work out, and I took it as a lateral move even though it was supposed to be a promotion. That was my career pivot point.”
Coming back to Canada
After spending three years managing the Fife Natural Gas Liquids plant and the Braefoot Bay Marine Terminal for Shell U.K. in Scotland, Waddington is starting a new role as health, safety, security, and environment manager for LNG Canada Development in Calgary.