OUR GREAT MINDS

Joanna-Olivia-Desjardins

Joanna Olivia Desjardins

PEng, MBA, Project Interface Engineer, ConocoPhillips

Awarded Calgary’s Most Compelling person in 2013, Calgary-raised and educated, an MBA from U of C and a mechanical engineering degree from Schulich School of Engineering, Joanna is Chair of the World Petroleum Council Youth Forum and considers her position with ConocoPhillips Canada a career milestone.

Her maxim, “If you set out with the intention of always making something better than it was before, you’ll build something special along the way,” exemplifies her approach to her current work on an asset in Canada’s Arctic and underscores her as a mentor and volunteer to a team of young professionals.

“Energy issues touch every corner of the globe—I feel my contributions matter. I hope my career will be a collage of all the great lessons I’m learning.”

We asked Joanna:

The OGM: What does sustainability mean to you?

Joanna: To me, sustainability is moving forward while minimizing the “price” of progress. In our industry, it means we continue to grow and develop new technology, while keeping environment, economy, and society as whole as possible.

The OGM: Have you had a mentor?

Joanna: Always, and so many of them. I’ve had mentors in all different aspects of my life, and many informal. I often considered them just great colleagues or friends before I realized how many valuable lessons I’ve learned from them.

The OGM: What does success mean to you?

Joanna: Success to me is the ability to tackle challenges with two things: courage and integrity. You hope that you’re right most of the time—but even when you’re not, if you set out with the intention of always making something better than it was before, you’ll build something special along the way.

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

Joanna: Challenging. Fascinating. Rewarding.

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

Joanna: Don’t be too firm on a career plan. There are so many interesting facets to this industry, that you’ll likely stumble on something totally unexpected. Give yourself the room to explore. Sometimes these surprise opportunities are the most rewarding.

The OGM: Describe a milestone in your career?

Joanna: Starting my current role was a milestone for me. It is unconventional and challenging, yet joined all the skills I had developed over the first part of my career. All my varied interests and the “parts” I’ve been building started to converge. I got to try something totally new—and am loving that!

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

Joanna: Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know—and that can be stressful! I had to learn when to trust my instincts and when to say “I don’t know”—which is tough when you’re a young technical professional trying to earn a name for yourself. Being absolutely right every time is not realistic. You have to take ownership of your work, but you can also test a few ideas with your team, and they might not all turn out to be the greatest ideas! You become comfortable just putting your thoughts out there, and seeing what comes back—that’s when I learn the most.

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

Joanna: I love that we can connect and share so quickly. I have friends around the world who often offer insights into an issue or challenge I have, or offer a perspective on a global issue that I hadn’t considered before. I will look up something I’m not familiar with, so I can better understand what my peers are describing. Information is so plentiful, and this can be a phenomenal tool if we use it responsibly.

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

Joanna: Hopefully, working on an international project. I’ve always been interested in contributing to a few projects abroad because of the added complexity of different environments, cultures, and political settings.

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

Joanna: No, actually. My engineering degree was supposed to be a stepping stone into something very different, but I ended up taking a summer job, and then an internship that I really loved. I didn’t realize the opportunities that the energy industry had. It kept me curious enough to continue, and I’ve never looked back.

The OGM: 11. What interests you to sustain a career in the energy industry?

Joanna: Energy issues really do touch every corner of the globe—so I feel that my contribution matters. And it’s an industry that has so many different facets. I don’t know what project I’ll be working on next, and there are very few industries that can give you that breadth of opportunity to challenge yourself.

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

Joanna: Several. I work with many great leaders, so I consider myself very lucky in this respect. I also work/volunteer with a team of young professionals who continue to inspire me. I hope my career will be a collage of all the great lessons I’m learning from many of my colleagues.

The OGM: What does energy mean to you?

Joanna: Energy is evolution. It is continually changing how we frame our lives and makes things possible that weren’t possible before.

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

Joanna: I’m sentimental about the new WPC Youth Forum app because it was customized by a member of our conference team, and a dear friend.

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

Joanna: Milllennials are an informed generation. We live in a world with a lot of data and information, so we are equipped to ask challenging questions, yet also bold enough to test our own ideas and be a little unconventional. We’re also aware of our social responsibilities, and keen to learn about the new global world we live in. I think this combination will be a huge asset to our industry.

The OGM: What’s your take on Social Media and our ever changing digital world?

Joanna: Like any tool, we have to use it responsibly. It’s great to keep us up to date and informed on current events—but we also need to do our due diligence. We have a responsibility to make the right decisions—not just quick ones.

The OGM: What Social Medium do you use on a daily basis?

Joanna: I use LinkedIn occasionally.

The OGM: Do you use Social Media for work?

Joanna: Social media isn’t a huge part of my day in terms of work. But, if I meet or need a professional connection, I’ll be on LinkedIn.

The OGM: What do you think of Social Recruiting?

Joanna: Social networking is lending itself to social recruiting—I think it’s a fairly natural progression. We link professionals and interest groups; we also endorse and promote via social media. Why not find talent via these communities?

The OGM: Why do you love what you do?

Joanna: I like that it’s different. I’m interested and curious about the things I do every day—and that makes it fun.

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1 comment
  • Kali Taylor

    Love this photo of you Joanna!


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