In the second installment of a three part series on women leaders in the spotlight, David Connor speaks with Kym Fawcett, Manager Safety & Social Responsibility at Enerplus Corporation.
Hi Kym. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with the CSRwire community. We’ll get straight into the questions to discover the highlights of your professional and particular Enerplus stories to inspire and guide the future women leaders of tomorrow…
Everybody has a different career history in the world of sustainability. What were the individual eureka moments that have steered your journey?
An early eureka moment was in the early ‘90s when I was working on a large scale, multi-year aquatic ecosystems study for the pulp and paper industry. The experience made me realize how critical collaboration is in our discipline and that collaboration needs to exist between both an organization’s internal and external stakeholders, regulators, academics and industry peers. Collaboration can result in solutions that are good for everyone, lead to the better or best result, and an increase in trust and acceptance.
Another eureka moment for me was that the environment, health and safety, regulatory and stakeholder engagement teams need to be structured so that sustainability benefits and everyone is on the same path. At Enerplus, we brought these teams together to complement or mirror what we know is a sustainable structure, one that supports external collaborative relationships.
Lastly, but a very important eureka moment for me, is that the art of influence is an essential skill for sustainability professionals.
If you had to write your CV as a Tweet how would you use the 140 characters?
Professional sustainability pusher. Twenty plus years developing/leading HSE&SD organizations & programs. Active volunteer and advocate. I push it at home, too.
Are there any particular books or authors that have stood out that have informed or inspired a course of action?
A few of the ones that quickly come to mind are:
Talent, Transformation & the Triple Bottom Line, by Andrew Savitz
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things, by William McDonough and Michael Braungart
Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, by E.F. Schumacher
Have you had any mentors, and if so, what did you learn from these?
Yes. I have been very fortunate to have some great mentors and they taught me valuable lessons, including:
Be scrupulous in your attention to detail and commitment to accuracy;
Be able to substantiate statements, facts and numbers;
Always seek feedback, and do not shy away from receiving constructive feedback;
Learn from mistakes and bravely turn negative feedback into an opportunity for improvement;
Have patience, as things rarely happen as quickly or easily as you want;
Be a genuine and active listener; and
Do what scares you but will move the needle forward.
Which areas do you feel women leaders bring the most significant strengths to in accelerating the sustainable business movement?
I think women leaders have many strengths that can accelerate the sustainability movement. Three of these are:
Women are wired for collaboration. This is a critical skill requirement in the sustainability discipline, which is all about successfully connecting and threading together many pieces and audiences.
Women care not just that people think, they care about what they think. This information is essential for accelerating the sustainability journey and solving complex sustainability challenges and opportunities.
Multitasking. We juggle home and family, our work team, the team’s role within the company, our volunteer commitments and everything else that makes up the big picture, all while keeping a strong focus on the vision. Sometimes, each of those pieces have their own vision, making the juggling that much more interesting.
Where does your role sit in the wider CSR / sustainability blend at Enerplus?
I lead the team responsible for managing health and safety, environment and sustainability, regulatory affairs, and stakeholder and indigenous relations across North America. We call this the Safety & Social Responsibility team. We are like artists. We: sketch out the greater picture; bring the people together who want to help paint; foster their creative ideas and help them get their piece done; and then ensure the finished masterpiece is a vision of which everyone wants to be part.
Sustainability really is a mindset at Enerplus. I am fortunate to get to work every day with people from departments across the company who also really care about moving the company forward in our sustainability quest. We believe that by working together, we can be a great neighbour, and model what corporate sustainability should be and how an energy company can be.
What do you think makes Enerplus stand out from the growing crowd of sustainable businesses?
Being a safe and sustainable company is the most important thing we focus on. Keeping people and the environment from harm is paramount. We care about being one of the most responsible operators and a great neighbour, we care about being the best place to work and we care about being an attractive and profitable investment.
We often hear from new employees and visitors that they can feel that Enerplus is different than most other companies. They sense the excitement and commitment we have to sustainability. We want to work hard at it, we want to engage with others who share our passion and because of that, we will continually improve. We also want to help and mentor other companies who want to be sustainable.
Who are the ‘intrapreneurs’ you believe deserve praise for their often unseen impact?
I think it is often the quieter people, the ones who have great and innovative ideas but have not yet found the voice to comfortably and confidently share them. I believe leaders need to work at finding those individuals, helping them find their voice and encouraging them to share their ideas.
What one piece of advice would you offer women wanting to make a career in EHS / sustainability?
Easy: go in with your eyes wide open. It is a fascinating career and you have many opportunities to make a difference and touch a lot of people both inside and outside your organization. Be tenacious, stay flexible, listen and keep your eye on the vision.
Kym Fawcett is a member of NAEM's Board of Directors and is on the organizing committee for NAEM’s Women’s EHS & Sustainability Leadership Roundtable, taking place April 14-16 in San Antonio. To network and learn from leaders like her, please visit http://womensleadership.naem.org/index.php