OUR GREAT MINDS

Karen Winsor

Chief Operating Officer, Atlantic XL Inc.

Karen is responsible for the continued success and growth of Atlantic XL of all operations and for the  delivery of innovative and cost effective solutions and services to Atlantic XL’s  clients in North America. With a team of eight others at Atlantic XL, they continue to excel in the area of communications systems for Newfoundland oil and gas, mining and utilities industries. Additionally they have recently taken the company to new places, clients and implemented new technologies, the latest of which is an expansion into fiscal metering here in the province, and successfully negotiating a multi-million dollar communications national standing offer from the RCMP.

Through her position at Atlantic XL, Karen also sits on the management team of XL Group Ltd, (Aberdeen, UK) where she is involved in business planning and quality management. This direct link into XL Group allows Karen to enable any requirement for the transfer of knowledge gained from XL Group’s decades of experience, back to the local Atlantic XL office.

We asked Karen:

The OGM: What does sustainability mean to you?

Karen: I am a firm believer in not putting all my eggs in one basket, and that is the first thing I think of with regards to sustainability. It is important to be diversified enough that we can thrive in more than one environment, but only inasmuch that we can continue to deliver a consistent, quality solution to our clients. I believe this philosophy will serve us well into the future.

The OGM: Have you had a mentor?

Karen: I am fortunate. I have two. They come together in my mind – Bill Fanning and Colin Laird. I worked with them when I started with Atlantic XL nearly thirteen years ago and I continue to work with Colin now. They were there when I needed them for guidance and support, but they also gave me the freedom to carve my own way when I began my career at Atlantic XL. Thirteen years later they are both still on speed dial!

The OGM: What does success mean to you?

Karen: Hard work by all involved. Success doesn’t come easily, quickly, or by accident. The most successful projects or businesses I have seen are the culmination of hard working people putting their best efforts forward. This success through hard work applies at home and to all aspects of life.

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

Karen: Diversified. Exciting. Challenging.

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

Karen: Newfoundland and Labrador’s energy industry is larger and wider reaching than ever before. From oil and gas, to Nalcor’s Lower Churchill Project, to mining – the careers are endless. One thing they all have in common is a drive to move these projects forward in a safe, sustainable manner. If you are passionate about working hard and want to continuously move your work to the next stage – this is the place for you!

The OGM: Describe a milestone in your career?

Karen:  Coming back to Atlantic XL in 2012 was a notable milestone. I was struck by the change in the industry and the number of opportunities that had developed. Those few years had really been the turning point where we have a growing number of operational projects, new ones on the horizon, as well as ‘new’ projects like none we have ever seen such as Lower Churchill. There is a real energy, pardon the pun, in the province and its people, and it is great to be a part of it.

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

Karen: Challenges are what help us grow. For me, having children in what I thought was a busy life and achieving the right balance was a challenge. At the tender ages of two and four, they force work life balance every day and I could not be happier about it. I do not want to be all things to everyone, but I know that if I am met at the door by two smiling kids, I am doing something right (at that moment anyway!). While my clients and colleagues don’t normally scream and run to the door when I arrive, I will settle for continuing to work hard with a continuous goal of delivering solutions that meet, or surpass the need.

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

Karen: Huge. The work that we do as a company is all about looking at the next technology in communication, controls, metering, etc. This, in turn, has an impact on my career and how I do proposals, what clients we should notify of changes in technology, and on and on the list goes. Besides that, like everyone, technology allows me to work from anywhere which is great in this fast paced, ever moving world.

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

Karen: I plan to be COO at Atlantic XL – wait now, that is what I am doing! That is not to say I want to stay the same. We will be working hard to expand, replicating the XL Group scope of services. I am excited to be part of taking Atlantic XL to that next level.

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

Karen: Since I finished high school – yes. There was a lot of excitement at that time around Hibernia and so much hope for the future. I couldn’t’t help but want to get in on it. When I started the commerce program it was great that I was able to dig a little deeper into the energy industry by doing a work term and school term abroad in Norway. Those experiences were the clincher.

The OGM: What interests you to sustain a career in the Energy Industry?

Karen: There is still so much work to be done in this industry. I cannot imagine being anywhere else. The level of exploration and activity going on in this region continues to climb with no end in sight. My want to have a long and fulfilling career in the energy industry is not just about my career, it is about being a part of something that is changing the face of the province and who we are to the rest of the country and the world. That is pretty awesome.

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

Karen: Heather Dalton. She is one of those people that you are better off knowing. She is the most well rounded professional I know and has shown me the importance of getting involved in the community and finding time to give back where possible. When she is not busy being president of one of the biggest ad agencies in Atlantic Canada, that is. Volunteering with Heather on Broken Earth has been rewarding to say the least. Their work puts it all in perspective.

The OGM: What does Energy mean to you?

Karen: The Energy industry is vital to this province. It represents success, prosperity, and hope for the future. Newfoundland is energized!

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

Karen: The Weather Network at the moment. I keep looking to see if something has changed – did they really mean snow because it is spring after all? There must be something wrong because it says rain, drizzle, and fog for the next 10 days and that just cannot be.

The OGM: What impact will the Millennial Generation have on the Energy Industry?

Karen: The Millennial Generation is going to keep us on our toes, especially from a technological perspective. No different from the generations before them, they will also bring a youthful, clean view of what we are doing and what they want to change or improve. I like to think that they will raise the bar on the environmental front as well as how we behave in a global marketplace with its political and economic challenges.

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

Karen: Social Media allows me to network in ways that are almost unimaginable. I can reach out to almost anyone I can think of sitting at my desk. Although, it does not replace the telephone or human contact. Hopefully that does not become obsolete.

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

Karen: My main social media use is in the area of content review. Twitter, YouTube, and Wikipedia would be the top three. I am always amazed at the amount of information out there and if I question something, someone else already has and likely created a forum to work through many of the pros and cons of the issue.

The OGM: Do you use Social Media for work?

Karen: Some, but not at the pace of others.

The OGM: What do you think of Social Recruiting?

Karen: It is great! The reach is far and wide.

The OGM: Why do you love what you do?

Karen: The number one reason I love what I do is the work is always changing. Cut and paste is not an option. The other reason I love to come to work in the morning is the people I work with. Each person brings something different to the table and, as a group, we work well together.

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Tina Olivero

Tina Olivero

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