OUR GREAT MINDS

Christina Penney

Christina Penney

Product Data & Confi guration Manager, PanGeo Subsea

Christina Penney is a Memorial University of Newfoundland graduate who began her electrical engineering career in Silicon Glen, Scotland. After the dot-com bubble burst in the early 2000s, she made the most of a “redundant” situation and made her way back to St. John’s via South East Asia, Australia, and New Zealand! After numerous years working in the electronics industry, she made the switch to the energy industry, and is now the product data and configuration manager at PanGeo Subsea. In this role, she gets to assert her change management know-how, manage the engineering product documentation, and go on the occasional offshore adventure! Christina is also active in the local arts scene, as she is a passionate flamenco dance teacher and performer.

We asked Christina:

The OGM: What does sustainability mean to you?

Christina: I think we have a responsibility to future generations, to the environment, and to the health of the planet to make sure we look at the big picture, and not just use up resources to satisfy today’s “needs.” So to me, sustainability is safeguarding resources for future generations and ensuring that the environment is respected and protected.

The OGM: Have you had a mentor?

Christina: While I haven’t had a specific mentor throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to have had some really wonderful managers and colleagues who have offered advice along the way.

The OGM: What does success mean to you?

Christina: Success to me is being able to have a balanced lifestyle—the right mix of family, friends, work, and play. And having the freedom to travel a little bit too!

The OGM: If you were to describe your career in three words what would they be?

Christina: Exciting. Challenging. Rewarding.

The OGM: What advice would you give to someone looking for a career in the energy industry?

Christina: The energy industry is a tough nut to crack if you don’t have any industry work experience. I would advise them to make full use of their personal network of contacts within the industry, to find out about potential vacancies and desired candidate skills.

The OGM: Describe a milestone in your career?

Christina: When I achieved my Professional Engineering designation, and shortly thereafter my Configuration Management certification, it was a milestone.

The OGM: Describe a challenge you faced in your career?

Christina: Reinventing my career upon returning home to Newfoundland after working in the electronics industry in Scotland was a challenge. There are very few job opportunities in that field here in St. John’s. I spent some time working at a property management company while trying to figure out my next steps. It was a great experience, as it gave me an opportunity to see the business side of things, including front of house, customer service, and accounts receivable and payable, which were all foreign activities for me, having been previously immersed in the techie world of electronics … Eventually, I was approached by PanGeo Subsea to join their team as configuration manager, and I haven’t looked back since!

The OGM: What impact does technology have on your career?

Christina: It plays a major role, as at PanGeo Subsea, we’re dealing with highly sophisticated sonar systems. I also have to be up on the latest trends in data transfer and change management software.

The OGM: What do the next five years look like in your career?

Christina: I plan to continue to develop my configuration management expertise, as it’s a field that is steadily gaining momentum here in Canada. I think companies are starting to realize how it can have a big impact on their bottom line, and that’s exciting! However, I think I’d make a good project manager, as I’m a people person, and I like to keep things organized and on track. So that’s ultimately where I see my career heading in the short term.

The OGM: Were you always interested in a career in energy?

Christina: On my very first work term in the Engineering Co-op program, I missed an opportunity to work for a local oil and gas company, Brown & Root, as I was offered another job the day before, and had to take it. I remember being extremely disappointed that I had to turn down the offer from Brown & Root. I ended up with most of my student work terms in the telecommunications industry, and that shaped the early part of my career.

The OGM: What interests you to sustain a career in the energy industry?

Christina: It’s a dynamic industry with lots of potential for career growth and overseas opportunities.

The OGM: Do you have a role model you look up to?

Christina: Although she’s not in the energy industry, I really admire and look up to Lori Savory, who is a local lawyer, writer, and business owner. She’s a strong and caring person who stays true to her values and also finds time to give back to the community. She is truly inspiring!

The OGM: What does energy mean to you?

Christina: As both an electrical engineer and a dancer, I see energy as a vital part of life. It’s what moves us, and keeps us warm, and in the light …

The OGM: What is your favorite APP on your phone?

Christina: I actually don’t have a smartphone. I’ve resisted the urge to get one, as I try my best to be present in the moment … we’ll see how long that lasts! It’s getting tougher and tougher to resist the siren call of the iPhone!

The OGM: What impact will the Millennial Generation have on the energy industry?

Christina: I think the Millennial Generation will have a major impact on the energy industry. I’ve noticed that my co-op students are incredibly insightful with respect to the interactions between management and staff. They are eager to share their ideas and want to be respected as valued employees. They aren’t afraid to ask questions concerning why things are done a certain way and to suggest improvements. They refuse to stand still—their energy will most certainly translate to the industry and lead to positive changes.

The OGM: What’s your take on social media and our ever-changing digital world?

Christina: Like most things, social media has its good and bad points. It makes it so easy to keep in touch with people all over the world—it really helps to connect people. But I also kind of dislike how wrapped up people get in it too. I think we need to remember it’s good sometimes to disconnect … to make sure we’re living in the here and now and not just in the synthetic reality of the Internet.

The OGM: What social medium do you use on a daily basis?

Christina: I use Facebook as a means to stay in touch with friends and family in faraway places, to find out about upcoming events, and to advertise my dance classes and performances.

The OGM: Do you use social media for work?

Christina: No, it’s not something we’re using at the moment.

The OGM: What do you think of social recruiting?

Christina: I think it’s an effective tool for reaching a wider demographic of people.

The OGM: Why do you love what you do?

Christina: I love helping people and my job is all about making process improvements to save people time and make things more efficient and effective … It’s a great feeling to know you’re making a difference!

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