OUR GREAT MINDS

Kimberly Gray

Corporate Communications Coordinator, Connacher Oil and Gas Limited

Originally from Ottawa, Ontario, Kimberly Gray currently serves as corporate communications coordinator for Connacher Oil and Gas Limited. Guided by her passions for energy and environmental stewardship, Gray has held diverse communications roles with various industry associations prior to her work at Connacher.

Throughout her career, Gray has contributed to a wide range of environmental communications initiatives. As the co-organizer of an award-winning energy education program, she helped successfully engage with thousands of students, teachers, and community members across Western Canada to build awareness about energy’s impact on our daily lives. She was recently recognized as a 2014 delegate for Leading Change Canada’s Emerging Environmental Leaders’ forum held in Vancouver in March. Gray also sits on the Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Committee with the Alberta Council of Environmental Education, works with Inside Education on their student and teacher development programs, and is involved with the global non-profit organization Student Energy, which is creating the next generation of energy leaders committed to transitioning the world to a sustainable future.

Gray has a Bachelor of Applied Communications in Public Relations from Mount Royal University in Calgary and is now finalizing her Master of Arts in Environmental Education and Communication from Royal Roads University in Victoria.

We asked Kim:

The OGM: What does sustainability mean to you?

Kim: Sustainability is about making decisions that empower us to give back to our communities, creatively innovate, and reduce our impact on the planet. It means thinking in systems and approaching problems with a balanced, long-term holistic mentality.

The OGM: Have you had a mentor?

Kim: There are so many amazing people in this city who are willing to share their knowledge with the next generation. I’ve been fortunate to have a few mentors throughout my career so far. My first boss continues to be a very important person in my life. She’s led a diverse career in communications and corporate social responsibility initiatives across Western Canada, all while raising a family. Our relationship has evolved so much over the past few years, but we remain close. She is always encouraging me to be a better communicator and an active global citizen, and she was my source of inspiration for pursuing my graduate studies. She’s practical, honest, and supportive with her advice. Having a strong, career-oriented woman as a mentor has truly been a gift. The lessons she has taught me have undoubtedly shaped who I am.

The OGM: What does success mean to you?

Kim: Success for me is giving back to my community by making a tangible difference in the environmental/energy discourse. We’re on the verge of a global shift in consciousness in the way that we do business and care for the environment; and my generation will play a vital role in this discussion over the next few decades. I want to educate and inspire people to think about Canada’s energy systems in a dynamic and inclusive way. Let’s talk about the environmental challenges we’re facing and contribute to a meaningful and progressive national energy strategy.

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

Kim: Diverse. Empowering. Meaningful.

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

Kim: Never underestimate the power of your networks. They can take you places and introduce you to people that will change the trajectory of your life.

The OGM: Describe a milestone in your career?

Kim:  The most notable milestone in my career to date is when I made the choice to pursue my master’s degree. I knew that I wanted to further my education, and I also knew that I wanted to work on the complex, big picture issues – to me, that meant an environmental focus. I am now starting to see career opportunities in the energy industry that call for skills in both communications and environmental studies, so I’m in a great place to leverage my work experience and the knowledge that I have acquired through the research for my master’s thesis. I feel like I’ve found my niche.

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

Kim: The biggest challenge for me is saying ‘no’. These are progressive times and Calgary is alive with opportunity! There are so many exciting things that I want to be involved in, but I have to hold back so I’m not spread too thin.

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

Kim: It’s in everything I do. Communications has evolved to a point where it can’t possibly exist without technology, and it moves at the speed of light, so it’s imperative that I’m always plugged in.

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

Kim: The world has become a global community, so I will continue to specialize in corporate sustainability and expand my knowledge through education and travel. Our worldwide energy and environmental systems are very complex, and eventually I’d like to gain experience in international energy development, education, and policy work.

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

Kim: Growing up first in the Nation’s capital until age 15 and then the energy capital, I was always interested in the big picture environmental issues. It wasn’t until I spent my first summer in Fort McMurray that I realized that I wanted to work in energy and that I could influence progressive change from inside this industry. I saw the publics’ concern about industry’s impact on the environment, and I recognized the communications challenges that it was facing. At the same time, I was witnessing the industry’s incredible dedication to innovation, research, and development to mitigate those impacts, not to mention the benefits it was bringing to our quality of life. I recognized the national importance of this topic and I knew that this was something I wanted to be a part of, learn more about, and hopefully help resolve.

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

Kim: I have dedicated my career to educating Canadians about the inextricable connection between our energy and environmental systems. I believe that Canada deserves a strong, holistic energy strategy that balances innovative extraction of our non-renewable resources and investment into renewable technology. I think I’m living in the right place at the right time, and I’m very enthusiastic about discussing our energy challenges. Canada has the potential to be global leaders in energy and environmental policy, and I am committed to doing everything in my power to contribute to this.

The Millennials will be required to meet the environmental targets that government and business are setting right now, so it’s important for young people who are passionate about the energy conversation and its conservation to get involved in whatever way they choose. My good friend, Kali Taylor of Student Energy, calls us ‘pragmatic environmentalists,’ or ‘Hippies in Suits’. It’s this community of young, dynamic, and environmentally-conscious people working in this industry that inspires me to continue doing what I do.

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

Kim: I really admire Christine Bader’s work. She’s wonderful because she has taken the philosophy of creating change from within an organization and unpacked the key emotional themes that many of us face on a daily basis. Her theories on ‘Corporate Idealism’ really resonate with me and go hand-in-hand with my thesis research on individuals, like me, who work in oil sands communications. I would be honoured to meet her in person one day.

The OGM: What does Energy mean to you?

Kim: Energy is the lifeline of our society. It’s never created or destroyed, but it changes through multiple forms. Energy allows us to function as individuals and as a society. It’s in everything from the food we consume, to the things we purchase, to the way that we travel, and to the way we communicate.

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

Kim: Twitter is still my go to. It’s my source for news on every day matters, and I use it a lot at events. My appreciation for Twitter grew exponentially last year during the Alberta floods. My neighbourhood was one of the hardest hit in Calgary, and I was glued to my Twitter feed for days. It has the ability to provide information in real time from real people – that kind of connection is invaluable in times of crisis.

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

Kim: I’ve heard people call Millennials the most connected, entrepreneurial, and socially minded generation of our time. I can’t predict what impact we’ll have on the energy industry, but when I think about certain people who I know working in energy and communications, I believe that the impact can be a lasting and meaningful one that encourages change for the better.

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

Kim: It’s become mandatory in my work as a way to gather information and network, but, like all tools, it’s all about how you use it. I think there’s still more value in a real interpersonal connection. Unfortunately, social media can be overused and abused.

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

Kim: Twitter.

The OGM: Do you use Social Media for work?

Kim: I’ve used social media as a two-way communications tool for work in previous positions. It all depends on the audience you’re trying to reach. In my current work, social media has become a research tool. It helps me to get a pulse on what’s going on or what’s being said on a particular issue.

The OGM: What do you think of Social Recruiting?

Kim: It’s great for our generation to be able to have access to so many opportunities and to share their talent broadly. I think social recruiting helps us to really refine our professional goals because you never know who could be following you online.

The OGM: Why do you love what you do?

Kim: I love the people I work with, both at the office and in the communities I’m involved in, and that makes a big difference. It’s a real joy to wake up every morning and know that I’m contributing to something bigger; something that affects all of us.

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